Review: Five Giants by Shane Stanford & Brad Martin

Everyone faces “giants” in their lives: Fears, issues, and struggles that must be overcome. In their book, Five Stones: Conquering Your Giants, authors Shane Stanford and Brad Martin attempt to use the story of David and Goliath to “arm” us to “do battle” with those giants. Unfortunately, they fail on every level.

In Five Stones, each stone represents something needed to conquer the giants in our lives: A picture, tools, a plan, training, and nerves. Rather than appear original, these tools and the overall message of the book feel stale. More problematic still, however, is the fact that rather than let Scripture influence their choice of tools, the book reads as though Stanford and Martin chose the tools they wanted to discuss and then searched for Scripture passages to support them. The result is a book that feels forced rather than organic; A book that feels like a weak attempt at self-help rather than a reflection of a deep belief in a God who can truly overcome giants.

As you might surmise from a book with the subtitle, Conquering Your Giants, it relies heavily on war metaphors. Unfortunately, the constant use of these war metaphors leaves the reader exhausted, feeling as though overcoming their giants is their problem to face alone, independent of God. At one point, the authors even say, “When fighting a giant, winning is the only thing. Train that way.” Such a theology is problematic because it promotes an entirely individualistic way of thinking that overlooks the very real role of Christian community in overcoming giants.

Though I typically pride myself in being able to find some value in any book, I'm having a hard time doing so with this one. Even the best ideas in Five Stones are the ones quoted from other people. About the best thing I can say about this book is it's short, so it's over quickly.

That said, do yourself a favor and avoid this one all together.

Note: I received a free copy of Five Stones from Youth Worker Journal in exchange for an honest review. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

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