McLaren, Brian. More Ready Than You Realize The Power of Everyday Conversations. Kindle. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006

Book Review by Jes Proffitt, 2018

I enjoyed listening to this book via Audible as well as following along with the Kindle e-book.

https://www.audible.com.au/pd/More-Ready-than-You-Realize-Audiobook/B00FO8VX68

Brian McLaren is primarily known as a thinker and writer he studied philosophical literature before doing his doctor of divinity degree which has driven him to think about and develop this idea of a new kind of Christianity[1]. More Ready Than You Realize is a fresh perspective to evangelism as an approach he calls ‘spiritual friendship’[2] A fantastic book for those who want a practical application for missional call Jesus gives to every Christian. This book is a very easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed it so much so that throughout the book I thought of different people I would like to share this book with and I believe that speaks volumes to the quality of the content McLaren thoughtfully covers in this book.

McLaren centres this book on a conversation with a young lady he names April as she explores and asks questions about the Christian faith. McLaren uses excerpts from their communication to highlight different points in order to aid in a simple task of evangelism in everyday conversations.

This books main strength is how it identifies that a change of perspective needs to happen with this new generation suggesting that traditional forms of evangelism (that has been successful in the past) is proving to be less effective in the postmodern context we find ourselves in today[3]. He highlights that in the past there has been this language of winning and losing however he draws the readers thinking towards the concept of a dance with someone pointing out that the dance can’t be against the others will and it isn’t some competition or an argument to win but rather it is about this approach called spiritual friendships[4]. One example of how the approach needs to shift from traditional to postmodern would be in the concept of conversion being not about an event but more about an ongoing process[5]. Traditionally evangelism focused on bringing people to a conversion event where they acknowledge a form of atonement and are led in a prayer[6] – but perhaps this raises an issue of just needing to tick a box for eternal security and doesn’t address their lifestyle of relationship which then can often get neglected and can often be reflected in not many Christian ‘active’ in their faith. McLaren suggests a different perspective where there is not a isolated conversion event but rather the ‘seeking Christian’ becomes a part of a community of believers, they get involved, grow, learn and then they eventually become a Christian but nobody knows exactly when[7], therefore the spiritual friend just needs to observe what is happening in their journey with God and aid the process. “Part of spiritual friendship is helping people put together a worldview, a web or mosaic of belief, a pattern that makes sense[8]” Loc 1409 “less like a static system of belief, an interlocking wall of cemented-in certainties, and more like a passion, an adventure, a discovery, a wild wonder.”[9]

McLaren summaries his book in chapter 17 by challenging his readers to put down the book and put some things in action by listing eight factors; “The Relational Factor: Count conversations, not just conversions,[10]” “The Narrative Factor: Listen to their story, share your story, and share God’s story, not just propositions or formulas,[11]” “The Communal Factor: Expect conversion to normally occur in the context of authentic Christian community, not just in the context of information,[12]” “The Journey Factor: See disciple-making as a holistic process and unending journey, not just a conversion event,[13]” “The Holy Spirit Factor: Believe that God is at work “out there” in everyone (either working from the outside to get in or from the inside to get out), not just “in here” in the church,[14]” “The Learning Factor: See evangelism as part of your own discipleship – not just the other person’s![15]” “The Missional Factor: See evangelism as recruiting people for God’s mission on earth, not just people for heaven[16]” and finally “The Service Factor: See evangelism as one facet of our identity as servants to all.[17]” I believe these eight factors highlight somethings that I see most Christians missing when it comes to their evangelism, especially that we are not be worried about outsiders or those distant (traditionally called ‘lost’) but rather to come along someone and help influence their direction and momentum as we are able[18] and being healing ministers of reconciliation[19] as it perfectly mirrors Abrahams calling blessed, to be a blessing to the world.

The only criticism I found is lack of scripture and academic references to back up his ideas, however the book is not completely without scriptural reference. At the end of the book McLaren includes a bible study on disciple-making which include seven lessons that can help make the teaching in the book become practical exercises. Also included at the end of the book are a few lists including his favourite books on evangelism, favourite movies related to disciple-making, and his favourite books to give a spiritually seeking friend. And I also appreciate the afterword he includes at the end of the book mentioning that ambiguity and misunderstanding do happen, it won’t always be an easy journey with everyone, he reminds the reader that Matthew 13 speaks of scattering many seeds and only a few seeds have ‘happy endings’ that we get to see[20].

If there was one overall message I received from this book that is; we are all called to be reconciled to God and He then commissions us and partners with us to reconcile others to Him (2 Cor. 5:17-20), through deliberate and intentional relationship with one another, partaking in Jesus’ revolution Jesus calls ‘The Kingdom of God’, which is somewhat like a dance with God and others – what an honour that is!

Bibliography

McLaren, Brian. “About Brian McLaren.” Brian McLaren. Last modified 12 Apr 18. https://brianmclaren.net/about-brian/.

———. More Ready Than You Realize: The Power of Everyday Conversations. Kindle. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006.


[1] Brian McLaren, “About Brian McLaren,” Brian McLaren, last modified 12 Apr 18, https://brianmclaren.net/about-brian/.

[2] Brian McLaren, More Ready Than You Realize: The Power of Everyday Conversations, Kindle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), loc. 220.

[3] Ibid., loc. 301.

[4] Ibid., loc. 327.

[5] Ibid., loc. 1269.

[6] Ibid., loc. 1289.

[7] Ibid., loc. 1300.

[8] Ibid., loc. 1409.

[9] Ibid., loc. 1625.

[10] Ibid., loc. 1654.

[11] Ibid., loc. 1667.

[12] Ibid., loc. 1679.

[13] Ibid., loc. 1691.

[14] Ibid., loc. 1716.

[15] Ibid., loc. 1725.

[16] Ibid., loc. 1737.

[17] Ibid., loc. 1749.

[18] Ibid., 1707.

[19] Ibid., 1894.

[20] Ibid., 1938.