Someone said leaders know how to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. They keep people moving forward while taking time with those who feel left behind. If you appreciate that effort, you will like The Briarpatch Gospel. Shane calls the members-only club to the carpet even as he engages people on the margins. He’s not the first to do so. A couple thousand years ago Someone did the same thing and started a worldwide movement of faith, hope and love.
Shane speaks with the authority of one who has pushed through life’s toughest questions in the face of a daughter’s chronic illness. He calls back to the church from a place outside his own comfort zone, meeting people on their turf. He shares his faith experience winsomely, setting aside any personal agenda to care for people who are far from God.
Don’t be thrown by the word “Gospel…”
I like this definition of The Evening News: It’s a program which begins, “Good Evening,” and continues with why it isn’t. Whereas the news is filled with soulless banter about your neighbor’s bad behavior, the Gospel paints a portrait of grace. It’s a timeless story of hope in the face of a human condition we see all over the evening news.
Gospel simply means “Good News.” Too often people think of the Gospel as as story that starts with shame and ends with pie in the sky by and by. The Briarpatch Gospel demonstrates how any good news must start with now, bringing inspiration to engage our circumstances with unwavering faith to rise above them.
Shane’s effort to be relevant is authentic. I remember a movie scene where a dad makes a pathetic attempt to talk slang to his son. He’d read some guide about connecting with teens, and he keeps scrambling popular expressions of the day.
“Son, you’re really bringin’ me over,” he says. Sometimes people look at attempts to be relevant as bit forced. But this author does not pander. He let’s you walk in his steps and missteps around his eclectic neighborhood with a full cast of characters who are living life far from God. His authentic exchanges are as instructive as they are refreshing.
Without any edge of sarcasm or negativity, Shane draws a sharp contrast between the core values and lifestyle of Jesus over against the norms in the American church.