Monday, September 21, 2009

A Ridiculously Short Review of Deep Church by Jim Belcher

First, if this is your sort of thing -- and you know if it is -- you should read Deep Church by Jim Belcher. Belcher has had his finger on the pulse of contemporary movements in evangelicalism for quite a while, and he knows his stuff.

The Cons:
Belcher is a workmanlike writer. I do not think writing is his forte, honestly. This is evident most in the dialogue portions, which he features quite a bit in the recapturing of exchanges with key figures in the emerging and traditional conversations. But they never ring true. They are informational exchanges in dialogue form. I have no doubt he had these conversations with these people about these specific subjects and that he is accurately relaying the content of what was said. But I do doubt people in real life talk like he has them talking in every dialogue portion in the book. They sound like characters in a church skit about evolution in the classroom (for instance :-).
So he has no ear for dialogue; let's just say that. And that's a minor quibble, but it's something particular to my taste that really stood out. They just sounded fakey.

The Pros:
This is a really, really good book. It is heavier on description than it is prescription, but I don't think the point of the book is to necessarily tell anyone what to do. It is a forging of the elusive "third way," and we see that mainly in the stories Belcher tells about his own life and ministry and the lives and ministries of others.
It is also a devastating critique of the emergent church without ever looking like one. Kudos to Belcher for managing that feat without polemic or fixation. He is skillful and "silent" like a ninja. :-)
If you're looking for "How to do deep church" this may not be the book for you (but you should read it anyway), but if you're looking for "Why do deep church?" it is definitely something you should pick up.

My grade: B+

The iMonk's review is longer and more thoughtful.

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