the weblog of Alan Knox

The Jesus Paradigm

Posted by on Apr 4, 2009 in blog links, books, discipleship | 10 comments

I’ve heard about this book for almost a year (but it was called The Downward Path of Jesus then). Now, Energion has agreed to publish Dave Black’s new book. Here is the publisher’s announcement, and the book’s web site (although there’s not much there yet).

This is what Dave Black (Friday, April 3, 2009 at 8:47 a.m.) says in the first chapter of The Jesus Paradigm:

What might this kingdom-focused church of the twenty-first century look like? It will be a serving church. Its organizational structure will be simple, unencumbered by bureaucrats and bureaucracies. Its financial priorities will reflect a commitment to missions, local and global. Capital expenditures will be reduced and the savings earmarked for discipleship. Most jobs that are currently salaried positions will be filled by volunteer help or eliminated. Denominations will make drastic reductions in funds spent on publications that are a waste of the church’s money (bulletins, glossy magazines, and Sunday School quarterlies – the Bible will be used instead). Church buildings will be used for primary and secondary Christian education. Believers will gladly work transdenominationally and cooperatively, especially at the local level. The church will proclaim the Good News of the Gospel as its first priority while not neglecting the cultural mandate. A full-fledged lay ministry will replace clericalism. Individual believers will be expected to assume specialized ministries according to their giftedness. Churches will provide regular lay training and build voluntary programs of education into their structures. Worship will no longer be confined to a single time or place. Preoccupation with church buildings will be seen for what it is – idolatry. The church will no longer cling to its prerogatives but take the form of a servant. It will refuse any longer to shun the secular. Trained pastors will become humble assistants to the “ministers” – every member. Disciples will take the going forth as seriously as they do the gathering. New believers will be asked to specify a regular community involvement (neighborhood council, PTA, volunteer library staff, nursing home visitation, etc.) in addition to their commitment to a ministry in the church.

Plus, Henry Neufeld, the publisher, has read the book and responded to it in his blog post here. Here are some of his remarks:

Normally, prospective authors inform me of the tremendous sales possibilities of their manuscript, how many people will love it, and why I ought to be willing to invest substantial sums in bringing it before a soon-to-be adoring public, certain to make them (and me) rich. Generally they’re very wrong.

But Dr. David Alan Black, author of more than 20 books, said: “Nobody will really be happy with my book.”

And that is a book that I choose to publish. This is not because I object to selling books or want to make people unhappy. It’s because for me, Energion Publications is a ministry, and ministry means service.

The bottom line is that I think that every Christian, especially in America, would do well to read this book. I have just made my first complete run through the manuscript, and that conviction grew stronger with every chapter. Do I agree with everything said? No. Did each and every page give me a glowing feeling inside? No. Do I think you’re going to love every minute of the time you spend reading it? I don’t.

The fact is that this book hit the spot for me. Now “hit the spot” is an expression we use to refer to comfort. After a good meal, we might say, “That really hit the spot.” But there’s another kind of spot-the one you find in the center of a target. You know, that big red circle surround by all those concentric rings. The arrow of conviction hit the spot.

There are many reasons that I’m looking forward to this book. The publisher mentions several in his blog post. For me, there’s another one: I’m attracted to what I see God doing in Dave Black’s life. For those of us who know him, I think this book will be even more important and more challenging. Why? Because, we will read his book and his life.


10 Comments

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  1. 4-4-2009

    Alan,

    If the quote from the first chapter is any indication of what the rest of the book holds, I think Dave is only partly right when he says, “Nobody will really be happy with my book.”

    Henry Neufeld said that it “hit the spot” for him. Just that small quote scratched an itch for me, an itch to tell it as it is to what has become a self-oriented, mutual admiration society.

    I trust I will be able to read beyond that small quote if it gets to our shores.

  2. 4-5-2009

    Alan,

    That for sharing the additional info about the book. I agree with Aussie John when he said that Dave is only partly right about nobody being happy with his book. I will definitely be looking for it come July.

    Blessings,
    Gary

  3. 4-5-2009

    I haven’t read any more of this book either, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.

    -Alan

  4. 4-6-2009

    On being unhappy – that’s one of those dangerous statements. I might say that I’m only happy when I’m unhappy. I like to publish books that are likely to change people, and books must challenge what I think now and how I behave now if they are going to start the process of change.

    I think this book does that. I put it in a special category of books that made me change some thinking during the first editorial read.

  5. 4-6-2009

    Henry,

    Thank you for publishing this book, and for writing your response to it. Now… when will it be available? :)

    -Alan

  6. 4-6-2009

    Advance copies become available about May 13, 2009. You have to commit to read the book and write about it on your blog to receive a free advance copy.

    Projected release date is July 20. I have been pretty good with release dates. I make most of them, and only miss by a day or two when I do miss.

    You need to e-mail pubs@energion.com with your blog URL, your statement that you will read and comment (it’s an honor system), and your snail-mail address if you would like one of the advance copies.

  7. 4-6-2009

    Henry,

    Thanks for the info!

    -Alan

  8. 4-7-2009

    I especially liked this:

    “Church buildings will be used for primary and secondary Christian education. “

    What a waste of space we have with buildings sitting unoccupied for the vast majority of the week. We send our kids to schools that cost enormous sums of tax dollars while our church buildings full of classrooms sit empty.

  9. 4-8-2009

    Hi Alan:
    I read Dave Black’s writings from time to time and really enjoy and resonate with much of what he say. But I have problems with the way in which he presents this idea that the modern church should make new members specify a community activity to be involved with, along with a ministry in the church, etc., etc.

    Pardon my passion, but all this makes me want to shout and scream, “WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS STOP??” Is Dave living in some other world…like the world of grandparents?

    I am part owner of an architectural firm, and I am sick of the hype about community involvement. I am a father of 8 and I am sick of “church” things that take me away from my duty and obligations to my wife and children in the name of community involvement and church ministry…because I am the biggest hypocrite…and the churches who promote involvement and ministry over family are awash in hypocrisy, when we fail to heed the command of God for father, in particular, to teach his children.

    There would be soooo much less need for “community involvement” and for “church ministries” if men loved their wives as Christ loved the church and if men had their hearts turned toward their children. In fact, it seems to me that just about all the “ministries” of the church are tied in some way to failure in marriage and break downs in the relationships between men and women.

    What would happen if the gifts Christ gave to the church were simply allowed to be expressed for their intended purpose of building up men to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ?

    When are we going to see that youth ministries that don’t have the effect of turning the hearts of the children to their fathers are not based on the true gospel?

    What would the power of the outreach of the church be like if every man was elder qualified, every man ruled his house well, every man was a one-woman-man, and every man was not blown about by every wind of doctrine? In other words, what would the power of outreach of the church be like if every man was built up to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ by the gifts Christ gave the church for that very purpose?

    The money concentrated on missions??? How about the mission field in the homes of each and every professing Christian, which is neglected because the father’s responsibility to teach is usurped and men are not made responsible to teach and evangelize their own children?

    Well…I’ll get down off my soapbox, but I think its time for the church to close its doors, send the fathers and mothers back home to love each other and raise their children in the nuture and admonition of the Lord. I believe that we will be shocked when the ministry power of the love, light, happiness, and hope that will fill the homes of the people of the church then flows out into the surrounding world.

    Grace to you
    Scott Parish

  10. 4-8-2009

    Arthur,

    It would be interesting to see how many different ways people could find to use those empty buildings. Of course, as long as the buildings are considered “sacred”, then people won’t allow sinners in.

    Scott,

    I think you’ll find that Dave Black agrees with your concern for the family. He wrote a book called The Myth of Adolesence that, among other things, points out the necessity of parents to disciples their children. Look through his website and you’ll find many other resources like that.

    -Alan

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