Recent Reads: Unexpected Gifts by Christopher Heuertz

Unexpected Gifts

What the book's about: Unexpected Gifts is about the formation of community. In it, Christopher Heuertz explores 11 things that often inhibit the formation of community. He then reframes these tensions by exploring the unexpected gifts that come from their resolution. 

Why I read this book: As a youth worker, I believe in the power of community and am constantly trying to learn how to better form and strengthen it. 

 My favorite quotes from the book:

- "Communities that practice failure are communities that know how to forgive." 

- "Being out of touch with our doubts is an indication that we're probably not in touch with the gift of faith." 

- â€œOur community refers to ecumenism not as moving away from values & our perceptions of truth for the sake of unity but as moving toward the center: Christ.”

- "The betrayal by Judas in response to the love of Christ isn't the metric of success in their relationship. Rather, Christ's fidelity in loving Judas in the midst of betrayal is the sign of faithfulness & the standard to follow." 

- "When we befriend people who are poor, our job is not to save them - a benevolent form of betrayal - but to join together on a journey of love." 

- "Christianity is demographically a worshipping community of women led by men." 

- "We dishonor one another by reducing one another to potential threats - placing the blame on the threat rather than owning up to our vulnerabilities." 

- "It's important to resist the easy option of tolerance, because tolerance can exist without love, honor, and respect."

- â€œGratitude moves communities into places of celebration... In all of the world's great religions, a banquet is one of the common metaphors used to describe the various understandings of heaven. There's something inside each of us that yearns to be at the table in paradise. The table has become sacramental in my life.”

- "Collectively we bear witness to hope - to the possibility that God is good in a world that has legitimate reasons to question God's goodness." 

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Definitely a thumbs up! 

Who I'd recommend this book for: Anyone interested in the formation of community would benefit from this book. In particular, I'd recommend it for church workers. It would also be a great book for small group leaders to read and discuss together as part of their training. 

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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Jen's Books

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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

Based on National Research

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