When the good folks at B&H Books asked me to read and review the updated and expanded version of Brothers, We Are Not Professional: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry, first I said, “But I’m not a brother.” Then I said, “Also, I’m not a pastor.” Doesn’t matter, came the reply, both read your blog. And so this is how it came to be that I added BWANP to one of the twelve coveted open spots for 100 in 2013.
I’m glad too, because this is less a book to brothers only or pastors only, but to all followers of Christ. Never have I read a more succinct, helpful, scripturally soaked treatise than this. Every page abounds with references to the Word and reminders of the gospel. Every suggestion is bolstered by scripture and every challenge is backed up firmly. I closed each chapter knowing with more certainty the call of Christ is one of coming and dying. It helps that the author is such an accomplished writer as well. Many can say these words, but saying them with eloquence is another matter altogether.
Much has been written on the original book already, so I’m not going to spend much time there. Instead, I’d like to just highlight a few things from some of the added chapters.
Brothers, God Does Make Much of Us: I am deeply grateful for this chapter specifically because often “Making Much of God” can shove aside the fact that we are deeply, deeply loved by God. With five points given to how God loves us and seven points given to how He makes much of us, it would be difficult for a reader to walk away feeling that they are only a puppet in a Master’s play.
Brothers, God is the Gospel: Gospel has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, and though I don’t think that means we ought to find a replacement, I do think it’s a great opportunity for us to relearn, or recalibrate on what is the gospel. In God is the Gospel, there are laid out very clearly the components of a correct understanding of what the gospel is. In some measure we will only see in part until we see face to face, but in the meantime we ought to clearly grasp and communicate what it is the Gospel is until that day.
Brothers, Pursue the Tone of the Text: Recently someone described a certain conversation in my church circles as “tone-deaf” and it happened to be at the same time that I read this chapter. This chapter was somehow written tonefully, to coin a word; it sounded like music and I don’t think that was an accident. The message of the Gospel is hope, yet so often our pulpits are filled with cheap substitutes or pounding diatribes. Here the author reminds us that hope is full of joy, but sometimes the joy is eventual—so we ought to be mindful of our tone. Sorrow can lead to joy, but only if we sorrow according to those who have hope.
Brothers, Act the Miracle: The author confesses his most besetting sins and does not offer a four step program to defeat them, but instead illuminates the power of the cross over them. He reminds Christians that our sins have been canceled, and so therefore they may be conquered, while too often we do the latter in an attempt for God to do the former. This was my favorite chapter as this is one of my besetting sins.
There is much to be gleaned from this book and I highly, highly recommend it to anyone, pastors or new believers, mothers or children. It’s a book about being a disciple who makes disciples and this is the call on us all. It would be appropriate to go through with a small group. I even think it could be tailored to be appropriate to go through in family devotions. The chapters are short enough and structured in such a way that discussion points could be simplified and filtered for differing audiences.
You can purchase a copy here: Brothers, We Are Not Professional: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry by John Piper