Building A Ministry Of Spiritual Mentoring, by Jim Grassi
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest book review.]
It is difficult for me to review a book like this fairly, but I will do my best. It is not rare at all for me to read and review books that are not directed specifically at me . It is worthy of note that this book is written by a Christian leader, but one who is far more concerned with cozying up to people of influence in the world and in the media and in targeted marketing and even a slightly cynical approach to seeking the support of men in order to “win” whole families to Christ. The fact that the target audience of this particular book are the secondary leaders of congregations who might be expected to plan and lead efforts at appealing to men through ministries that include small groups, alpha male activities like hunting and fishing and golf and team sports only presents a small barrier to appreciating this book.
There are more substantial issues that I have with this work, and most of them are somewhat subtle in nature. For example, even though this is a Christian work, it reads more like the writing of a worldly consultant with ready sound bytes but a shallow grasp of scripture. For another, the book seeks to make doctrinal and Christian living points with questionable translations like the Voice , which include very dubious added words loaded with interpretation (like one example of a smuggled and illegitimate “Triune God” for the baptism formula of Matthew. For another, the book has an approach like “Man Of Steel and Velvet”  where it tends to have a rather rigid view of a manly man (namely, one who is aggressive and likes to kill things) as being the natural godly leader, with a subtle but persistent insulting tone for men who are less aggressive in nature. Then there is the way that the book tends to assume that men are going to be friends mostly with other men rather than women.
It is a shame that this book has so many limitations in its approach and in its style, because it makes a good point about a very serious matter. It is hard to encourage and develop and reach men. Some men simply don’t want to talk about what they are wrestling with because they are afraid to be thought of as being too weak, too feminine, or too sensitive. So instead they adopt a strong, silent macho pose that hides the wounds and vulnerability behind a tough veneer that lets no one in. Ideally, a book like this one, written by someone who was godly and loving and genuinely encouraging rather than subtly engaged in power games, could serve a great purpose in a very needed area . For the most part, though, while this book offers a good diagnosis of the crisis of contemporary manhood, and while it offers good resources and metrics to measure the effectiveness of congregational efforts at appealing to men, it falls short in providing encouragement in men to be balanced and whole Christians, and it lacks sound biblical knowledge to apply to the problems that men face today, not only from feminists on the left, but from troglodytes on the right. He who walks in the middle gets run over by both sides. In that critical and fundamental sense, this book is part of the problem men face, and not part of the solution.
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