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The Faith of Leap, Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure & Courage (Shapevine)
 
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The Faith of Leap, Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure & Courage (Shapevine) [Kindle Edition]

Michael Frost , Alan Hirsch
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

As Helen Keller observed, "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

To Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, so much of how we have learned to experience and understand the faith has been divorced from the overarching adventure inherent in our God and in our calling. This book is a corrective to the dull, adventureless, risk-free phenomenon that describes so much of contemporary Christianity. It explores the nature of adventure, risk, and courage and the implications for church, discipleship, spirituality, and leadership.

From the Back Cover

Put the adventure back in the venture.

So much of our lives is caught up in the development and maintenance of security and control. But as Helen Keller observed, "Security is mostly a superstition. . . . Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." And when our only experience of Christianity is safe and controlled, we miss the simple fact that faith involves risk.

In The Faith of Leap, Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch challenge you to leave the idol of security behind and courageously live the adventure that is inherent in our God and in our calling. Their corrective to the dull, adventureless, risk-free phenomenon that describes so much of contemporary Christianity explores the nature of adventure, risk, and courage and the implications for church, discipleship, spirituality, and leadership.

"Very thoughtful and chock-full of insight and practical advice, this brilliant book reminds us that we can--in fact, we must--substitute another narrative for the security-obsessed one that normally drives us if we wish to truly live!"--Reggie McNeal, missional leadership specialist, Leadership Network; author of The Present Future and Missional Renaissance

"You've got two pockets. Stick in one of your pockets your Bible and in the other The Faith of Leap. You're ready. Now go."--Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University; author of One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow

"Hirsch and Frost use their manifold gifts to show us why and how adventure, risk, and courage are at the very heart of living life together in God's Mission."--David Fitch, author of The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission; B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Northern Seminary

"This is, in my opinion, Hirsch and Frost's best work to date and is must reading for anyone who wants to release missional movements."--Neil Cole, author of several books including Ordinary Hero, Church 3.0, Journeys to Significance, and Organic Leadership

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 691 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books (April 15 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TS1MJW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,446 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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2.0 out of 5 stars Leap of Faith Falls Short Feb. 8 2012
Format:Paperback
A book review by Heather Smyth
[...]

When I first saw The Faith of Leap I eagerly jumped right into the pages. I agree with the authors that as Christ followers that we are 'called to an ongoing, risky, actional, extravagant way of life 'a life resonant with that distinctly wild 'and yes Christlike 'faithfulness of their Lord and Master'. In fact, I believe that at times in my own life that I have lived out my own stories of great faith, in obedience to what God had asked of me, even when others questioned my actions. I have also walked alongside friends who have their own stories of great faith, patiently waiting on God to fulfill His promises. I have witnessed some great stories of faith. More than that, as I read the Biblical accounts of men and women who have trusted God in great faith, they resonate deep within me. The story of Abraham heading up the mountain to offer his son Isaac as sacrifice to God, the trusting, faithful response of Abraham to his son, 'God will provide a lamb, my son' and Abraham's response in naming the place where the sacrifice was made 'The LORD Will Provide' are foundational to my own understanding of who God is and my understanding of faith. I was excited to read of more stories of people who have lived out or are in the process of living out their own 'faith of leaps' and to be encouraged in my own faith journey of trusting God in obedience to what He has called me to.

In the end, I found this to be a good textbook about the theology of faith, but really, the reading of it was tough. When I think about my friends and the faith stories that they have lived out or even my own stories of faith, they are exciting and wild, filled with groaning and waiting for God to show up in the everyday-ness of life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure, and Courage. Baker Books, 2011. 224 pgs.

In The Faith of Leap Frost and Hirsch encourage the reader to leave the idols of security and safety behind and live out our adventure with God. They remind us that faith always involves risk, that God calls us to make a leap for him and, in that leap, to have the "faith of leap". In order to develop these themes, Frost and Hirsch explore the difference between community and communitas, as well as liminality and how these things affect our churches and are lived out in our mission. Their final chapter then points us to our own communities as the places in which we live out this adventure through the "risk of neighborliness."

There is much to be praised in this book. Chapter five is clearly the highlight, as Hirsch and Frost directly assault our idol of security in an argument and encouragement to get over our risk-averse tendencies. Indeed, far too many churches and Christians are more concerned with safe-guarding their own existence rather than with being actively involved in the mission of God, no matter the cost. However, what these churches have lost is emphatically not their sense of adventure. What they have lost is their sense of calling. Thus begins my disappointment with this book.

In the preface Hirsch bemoans the fact that out of tens of millions of books exploring theology they were unable to find a single study on the nature of adventure itself. Assuming Hirsch was correct as he wrote this preface, he is still correct as I read this book, and perhaps with good reason.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Faith of Leap June 29 2011
Format:Paperback
As found on my blog: [...]

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure, and Courage. Baker Books, 2011. 224 pgs.

'All disciples of Jesus (not just a select few) are called to an ongoing, risky, actional, extravagant way of life--a life resonant with that distinctly wild--and yes, Christlike--faithfulness of their Lord and Master.'

Thus begins the book Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure, and Courage. Teaming up once again, missional church frontiersmen Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost collaborate in challenging Western Christians to get out of the safety of the pew and enter the risk of the real world. And for them, such an approach to the Christian life is not optional.

The book's title - 'Faith of Leap' - is more than simply a play on words; it offers an important distinction: Risk and adventure are not merely actions we take once in a while when necessary (e.g. 'leaps of faith'), but rather encompass a posture we need to take to life in the world as followers of Jesus. Our whole lives must incorporate a faith that is willing to risk. I appreciated the emphasis on our whole lives, not just isolated actions. Echoing Stanley Hauerwas I suspect, the authors emphasize this whole life approach to life and mission: 'The church doesn't have an agenda; it is the agenda. The church doesn't have a missional strategy; it is the missional strategy.'

Two key concepts in developing their proposal are liminality (ch. 1) and communitas (ch. 2), terms borrowed from the field of pyschology. Liminality literally means 'a threshold,' which related to Christianity is said to describe the current cultural situation. The church is in a time of transition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another must read from Frost & Hirsch May 17 2011
By Bradley J. Brisco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Over the past several years I have read every book that Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost have written individually and collectively. I have probably been most influenced by Hirsch's "The Forgotten Ways", Frost's book titled "Exiles" and their collaborative work, "The Shaping of Things to Come." Having just finished their latest book, "The Faith of Leap", I believe it may just be their best work to date. They present a theology of risk, adventure and courage that will challenge the reader to step boldly into participating in God's mission with a renewed sense of purpose.

One element that I have always appreciated about Hirsch/Frost is the way they bring together applicable material/research from a wide range of disciplines (sociology, science, business, history, etc.) and filter it through a theological/biblical lens. This book is no different. Every chapter is replete with wonderful insight, illustrations, and encouragement to engage in mission in a way that will propel the reader out of the typical self-concern to other-concern, from "holy huddle to venturing out into God's world." After reading the first chapter I tweeted that it alone was worth the price of the book. However, reading further, I discovered that I felt the exact same way with each subsequent chapter.

To fully engage in God's mission and live the life He intends for Jesus followers, we must embrace risk and adventure. Hirsch/Frost provide excellent instruction on a range of topics to help the reader do just that. They unpack the critical issue of developing "communitas" rather than simply "community." They deal with the importance of overcoming "risk aversion" and the dangers of individualism in the realm of risk taking, and the related damage caused by our pursuit of safety and security. They provide practical insight for a church to move from complacency to developing a sense of urgency for God's mission. There is also an extremely helpful discussion in one of the final chapters titled "Missional Catalysis" in which Hirsch/Frost illustrate perfectly the need to understand mission as the organizing, catalyzing (and even revitalizing) principle of the church. There is much in each of the seven chapters to encourage the reader to understand risk and adventure as an indispensible component of a life with Jesus. You will certainly not be disappointed with this excellent addition to the missional church conversation.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! May 9 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Just set down The Faith of Leap by Frost and Hirch. What Frost and Hirsch have done is created a theology of risk and adventure for the church. Sure, Eldridge and others have addressed the idea of a bold adventurous faith, but it seems that one needs to by-pass the church and live out that adventure as an individual. Drawing from the writings of Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces, the authors outline, not just what the adventure can be...but should be as a missional church. After all, "When all our church ever expects from us is attendance and tithing, we hardly feel as though our lives are at stake." I read a lot of books and after picking this one up I couldn't set it down.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the Arms of God April 6 2012
By Roger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
How many kids remember their dads saying, "Jump! I'll catch you." What a thrill for a child both to fly and to be safe at the end of the flight! Fast forward a few years, when perhaps the most common complaint one hears from church kids is that church is boring. I rarely disagree with them. Does that surprise you coming from a pastor? Regrettably, American Christians and their leaders have fallen victim to two insidious forces--centuries of tradition and decades of prosperity. Neither tradition nor prosperity are inherently harmful or evil, but either may easily revert to idolatry without many even suspecting their mistake. It is so easy to accept the way things are and the way things "have always been" without ever examining those things more carefully. Then, when a young person or even a less compliant adult finds these established customs unpalatable, we react like they were challenging the gospel itself. Most of us are long overdue in looking at the situation more closely and more honestly.

Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost cut to the heart of the problem in The Leap of Faith: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure, and Courage. Their premise cuts to the heart of what it means to be a Christian community of gifted disciples who are truly committed to reaching others for Christ, with the clear suggestion that such a community is not simply a "safe place" for worship. Rather they would restore the sense that living as a believer is living on the edge, a kind of adventure that takes risks and that requires courage in living it.

Personally, I have been troubled for some years regarding the word "peace" as it is almost exclusively understood among believers. For most, it is serenity or quiet, closely related to security. As the nearly predominant understanding, it omits almost totally the idea of peace that comes from ending conflict or warfare. Instead of becoming blessed peacemakers, Christians are often merely conflict avoiders, pretending to be serene in the face of unreconciled, broken relationships and varying degrees of strife. In the quest to avoid controversy, the Church has become rather tepid and sadly pointless. Jesus said we must "make disciples" wherever we go. His is an edgy, challenging mission, but we have settled for occasionally asking a neighbor or co-worker to our less than exciting church (unless we can afford glitzy entertainment with a spiritual message).

As Hirsch and Frost explain, the remedy is not programming adventure any more than it is to program worship. Just as worship must arise from the hearts of those in the pew, not the efforts of the leaders in front, so must adventure arise from a genuine pursuit of authentic, Biblical mission. The Faith of Leap is one in the Shapevine series that seeks to mine, creatively, the best ideas from missional, emerging church, church planting, urban ministry, and simple church movements. In this, knowing that searching occurs when something important is lacking, they recognize the legitimate elements that have driven such thinking but, in this book at least, avoid the questionable aspects.

To derive a "theology of risk," the authors focus on two terms, previously unfamiliar to me--liminality and communitas. Liminiality refers to "a threshold experience,...composed of any or a combination of danger, marginality, disorientation, or ordeal and tens to create a space that is neither here nor there, a transitional stage between what was and what is to come" (page 29). It is not danger for danger's but instead an environment where the creative, corporate effort to sustain genuine outreach keeps people from getting comfortable and then working only to satisfy their desire for ease and safety.

By operating in a liminal environment, people discover something greater than community that is little more than a description of a class of people; instead of "huddle and cuddle," communitas develops "in adventurous mission and liminal discipleship" (page 84). This is the true sense of brotherhood that soldiers find in the dangerous of the battlefield and others discover in pursuing a quest. Living in genuine mission-driven liminality, believers become interconnected in communitas.

The authors do an outstanding job of drawing together the threads of church life to create a different image that the one we often see. The are not sanguine in assuming this transformation will occur based merely on a new paradigm; wise leaders will draw the people into liminality and guide them in fashioning ministry appropriate for their own community. They will also recognize the ease with which people will be tempted to settle back into a new comfort zone, so that constant vigilance will be needed.

As I began reading The Faith of Leap, I was excited to see someone offering a fresh vision of church life for the many young people that I've always enjoyed teaching and encouraging. At my age, I was not looking for adventure; I was never attracted to mountain climbing, sky diving, or underwater exploration. Ironically, I realize that I have been drawn into liminal adventures, simply by pursuing the work to which I believe God has called me...especially Biblical peacemaking and, lately, tutoring refugees and internationals with a goal toward creating a school to teach them English. Just as I never sought to be nonconformist--what my generation claimed their conformist rebellion was--but merely tried to follow Christ, I have found myself to be both a genuine iconoclast and adventurer (but no threat to Indiana Jones!).

Part of the disappointment for those like me is that congregations fail to embrace the missions that arise within them, beyond the duly appointed, official program. Pastoral leaders often bring their own priorities, apart from any sense of community or neighborhood need or gifting among the people. I have left on a couple of occasions where it was clear that the leaders were more interested in drawing me into their vision and had little interest in mine. The authors strongly advance an alternative view where everything rests on the people's gifts and the neighborhood's needs. In this paradigm, mission, worship, community, and discipleship all are integrated by mission.

As I have so long believed that pastors must be or become a part of the neighborhood, not transients waiting for their next step up professionally. Churches must reject the idea of ministry that occurs only in the building, and instead to become engaged in their neighborhood. Fighting with their neighbors over parking or prostitution is not allowed. Sunday must stop being the only expression of church life, largely led from the front; rather people will return from a week engaged in sometimes risky mission activities to find refreshment, worship the God who has taken them safely through their mission adventures, enjoy the communitas among fellow travelers on their quest, and disciple those coming to Christ. Motivated by the love of Christ that rejects fear, believers will find adventure much closer than a faraway mission field.

I've already written too much, but it is wholly inadequate to summarize The Faith of Leap. I found it to be an encouraging and thought-provoking book, but I struggled to read it, almost as if I was being drawn away into other activities. I believe this is an important book, and I'm likely to read others by Allen Hirsch and Michael Frost, as well as exploring related resources on the Internet. Today's American Church is largely in retreat; the culture has taken an anti-church posture and enjoys mocking us and our beliefs. Christians may still represent a majority, nominally at least, but ours are no longer the dominant view. We will not take back the culture or restore our influence through the ballot box. A comfortable, passive church will fade into oblivion, practicing a religion less and less Biblical or effective. We need to become the bold, adventurous church described in Hirsch and Frost's The Faith of Leap.
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The Faith of Leap" by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch June 15 2011
By Andrew Demoline - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure, and Courage. Baker Books, 2011. 224 pgs.

In The Faith of Leap Frost and Hirsch encourage the reader to leave the idols of security and safety behind and live out our adventure with God. They remind us that faith always involves risk, that God calls us to make a leap for him and, in that leap, to have the "faith of leap". In order to develop these themes, Frost and Hirsch explore the difference between community and communitas, as well as liminality and how these things affect our churches and are lived out in our mission. Their final chapter then points us to our own communities as the places in which we live out this adventure through the "risk of neighborliness."

There is much to be praised in this book. Chapter five is clearly the highlight, as Hirsch and Frost directly assault our idol of security in an argument and encouragement to get over our risk-averse tendencies. Indeed, far too many churches and Christians are more concerned with safe-guarding their own existence rather than with being actively involved in the mission of God, no matter the cost. However, what these churches have lost is emphatically not their sense of adventure. What they have lost is their sense of calling. Thus begins my disappointment with this book.

In the preface Hirsch bemoans the fact that out of tens of millions of books exploring theology they were unable to find a single study on the nature of adventure itself. Assuming Hirsch was correct as he wrote this preface, he is still correct as I read this book, and perhaps with good reason. What you do not have here is a serious study of the nature of adventure - "its role in shaping our thinking about God, our experience of life, or our participation in mission, church, or discipleship." (13) Instead, you have a recasting of Christian mission in the language and framework of adventure and risk. In doing this, Frost and Hirsch draw on excellent sources, and yet they seem to fail to learn many of the lessons therein.

One of my favorite quotes on this subject, which appears in the introduction, comes from The Lord of the Rings. I am sure you know it. Frodo and Samwise are approaching Mordor, discouraged, hungry, tired, and ready to finish their quest and die. Samwise then says to Frodo:

"The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo, adventures as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of stories went out and looked for because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually - their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd be forgotten. We hear about those as just went on - and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same - like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we've fallen into?"
We can learn many true things about adventure from this quote. Adventure is not something you seek but something that happens while you faithfully answer a call you did not look for... strike one. Adventure is not something that those in it often find enjoyable or desirable, but what you must do in being faithful.... strike two. Adventure is not, primarily, about deeds of daring-do but about trudging on, faithfully, through difficulties.... strike three.

Perhaps there is a reason for there not being any sustained and serious theological examination of the idea of adventure. Perhaps it is because Tolkien got these three truths exactly right. If adventure is not something you seek but, instead, something that happens to you, then whence this book? If adventure is not enjoyable or desirable, when rightly understood, then why are we trying to dress it up otherwise? Further, why would we encourage more of it? And if adventure is about faithfulness in the face of difficulties then why would we try to embed adventure in our churches instead of embedding faithfulness and perseverance?

The answer, I think, also lies in the same quote from Tolkien. People who hear adventures, instead of living them, think of adventures in ways which are unrealistic and wrong. This is further compounded by Hollywood. We watch adventure movies in which hours, months, or years of training are compressed into a montage of flowing images put to catchy music (you can't beat classic Rocky for this) so that we can quickly move on to the 'adventure' part of the story. Of course, the same is true even in biblical stories. Joseph spends years toiling away in obscurity, remaining faithful and persevering, before any 'adventure' occurs. This is the way of real life.

A serious theological study of adventure would have to include a study of our cultural distortions of adventure, our misplaced desires for impossible levels of excitement, and our inability to maintain the years of faithfulness necessary in preparation for whatever 'adventure' God may have for us. It would also involve many of the things Frost and Hirsch included in their book, such as an attack on the idol of security, a calling out of Church's lack of mission, and an examination of how 'adventure' is part of community formation. I suppose that what I am saying is that this book contains only half of the story. In so doing, this book can, unintentionally I am sure, be setting people up for disappointment and disillusionment. If we come to Jesus for adventure and find, instead, that we are called to years of faithfulness in which we, ourselves, may or may not see any of the fruit of our labor then our expectations, false though they were, will have been dashed on the hard rocks of discipleship and we may, in some ways rightly, feel ripped off and move on believing God did not deliver on his end of the bargain. Of course, grace will lead many through this problem despite the damage we will have done, but that is no excuse. When we falsely represent the call of Christ, and what to expect in answering it, we are playing an incredibly dangerous game.

Does the church need to stop being so risk-averse? Absolutely. Do we need a missional understanding of both church and God? Most assuredly. It is while encouraging these that this book shines. However, in order to overcome these problems what the church does not need is a renewed 'sense of adventure' or a desire to be heroes. What we need is a renewed call to faithfulness, a renewed understanding of our Lord, and a renewed willingness to carry our cross for Christ. While these were touched upon throughout The Faith of Leap they fell well behind the focus on adventure.

Conclusion: 2.5 Stars. Not Recommended. In terms of missional churches, understanding God, or theology there is nothing new here. It is simply re-framed material and, in my opinion, re-framed in an unhelpful and dangerous manner.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally !!! July 8 2011
By rlpeck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hirsch and Frost have written a book that the evangelical church needs desperately. We seem to base everything we do around being comfortable and not risking for the one we love and live for. That doesn't make sense. I am a denominational leader and find such complacency among pastors and leaders. They are fine to be called "Christians" but have not clue what a "Jesus Follower" seems to be. I am giving a copy of this to all the leaders in my region!!!
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