Book Review: Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture

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I’ve written before about Jen Hatmaker’s new book, For the Love, and the incredible community I found after getting rejected for her launch team. The surprises and blessings of this keep on coming. Recently Jen’s husband, Brandon Hatmaker, contacted the reject crew (AKA #the4500) and invited us to serve as the launch team for his second book, A Mile Wide, which is coming out in September 2016. This got me thinking that I should probably read his first book, Barefoot Church, which has been sitting on my Kindle forever. (Grad school kind of cramps my reading style…) I knew the only way I was getting through another book during the holiday season and end of the semester was to buy it on audiobook.

If you’re keeping score, I have now purchased this book twice. And after listening to it while I commute, I know I’m going to have to buy it again. I need a paper copy that I can reread, highlight, and mark with notes. Barefoot Church is so clear and practical, a how-to guide for pastors and lay leaders who want to make service not just a program, but an integral part of their lifestyle as individuals and as a church body. Hatmaker encourages us to overcome our own agendas and pitch in just to serve as Jesus commanded, not to build our attendance numbers or gain a reputation – or even to win people for Jesus. Of course we hope for open doors to share the gospel, but the church has gotten caught up in serving only so we can preach to those we help. We think of ourselves as better than the poor. We made better life choices and have it all figured out – in our own minds. The truth is that we don’t have all the answers, Jesus doesn’t call us to determine who deserves help, and we’ve done a lot of damage with these attitudes. He just calls us to help and serve in love. And that kind of selfless, compassionate service will open more doors to share the gospel than any “constructive criticism” or sermon can.

“They will know we are Christians by our LOVE” (John 13:35)
When you don’t know what to do, says Hatmaker, choose love…

 – Can’t decide if you should give? Choose love.
     – Can’t seem to swallow your pride on a foolish matter? Choose love.
     – Having a hard time forgiving someone? Chose love.
     – Rather keep your time for yourself than help someone in need?
        Choose love.
     – What would Jesus really do? Choose love.
         One of the reasons I believe in a barefoot church is because I believe
     in the power of love. Not just as a feeling, but as an action. Jesus was
     clear that we are to serve the least, and he was clear that it should
     always be an act of compassion. Our love should extend toward one
     another as well. And through that love, people will see God, not us or
     our actions.

The Hatmakers planted a church based on the premise that the Church can both gather people together and send them out to be salt and light in the local community. I want my worship to be more than just holding down a pew with my lazy backside. I want to be the active, serving hands and feet of Jesus. If you and/or your ministry want to live that life, I highly recommend Barefoot Church as a guidebook on your journey.

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