A Review of
Everyday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World
Reviewed by Sam Edgin
Everyday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World is a book for those who seek faith as defined apart from the social rules our culture has thrown on us. Leroy Barber reaches out and pulls the reader out from the muck of contemporary ideas on success, faith, and personal mission, wipes their eyes and points towards a different path. It is for those who seek to live, love and serve without moving into a far-away jungle, but aren’t quite sure how to go about doing that. Filled with fresh theology pulled from Biblical examples and with stories of others busy searching for and finding their way in their faith, this could be the book that incites massive change in your life.
But, it’s also a book for the uninitiated.
Let me expound by way of example. I make valiant efforts to be at the annual Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) conference, wherever it happens to be held. The meat of the conference is a series of seminars taught by people immersed in CCDA ministries across the country and around the world. These seminars are given numbers in the style of college classes, from 101 to 401, so that people can more easily pair themselves with classes that match their current level of involvement in community development. 101 is for those just starting – the beginners – and 401 is for people who have been active in community development ministry for a number of years. I, as someone who studied community development and who now lives in a community involved CCDA-inspired ministries, usually find that, although the 101 level seminars are excellent and bursting with life-shifting ideas, they rarely offer things I haven’t heard already.
Everyday Missions is not unlike many seminars that are held each year at the CCDA conference. In fact, the Leroy Barber is part of a CCDA community, runs the incarnational inner-city ministry organization Mission Year, is on the national CCDA leadership board, and has taught many of those very same seminars over the years.
Yet on that college-inspired number scale, Everyday Missions would set itself comfortably into the 101 level. Its a thought-provoking, sincere, and puts forth a way of faith filled with life-spark. However, quite a bit of the book isn’t going to be new for most people already involved in community-based ministries. It’s a handbook for beginners.
Barber actually covers quite a bit of theological and social ground with Everyday Missions. Each chapter dives into a different aspect of shifting yourself to a kingdom oriented mindset.
The backbone of this idea, for Barber, is dropping what society considers the most important details of our lives – jobs, time, money, dreams, safety – at the feet of God. He introduces this idea in chapter 1, gives it some background and then expounds upon it and a few other related topics (confidence in God, mentoring, etc.) over the next ten chapters, and wraps everything up in chapter twelve with a plea for each Christian to recognize the Kingdom potential in their own lives. He warns us to avoid a sort of “trickle-down” spirituality that so much of the Christian culture adheres to – letting the leadership and clergy do the mission for us, thinking their actions will flow down and cover our inaction.