The premise of Jon Weece's Jesus Prom is, I think, really good. According to Jon, “Jesus loved verbs. Verbs like love, come, rest, learn, hear, die, give, and go. So wouldn't it make sense that the people who claim to follow Jesus would love the same verbs Jesus loved?”
As Jon goes on to explain, “Somewhere along the way someone tried to make the word Christian an adjective” - something that has done far more harm than good to Christianity. Throughout Jesus Prom, Jon challenges his readers to once again “love the same verbs” Jesus loved and to live out their faith rather than become hypocrites, essentially “nouns without verbs”.
Throughout Jon's exploration of these verbs, what I appreciated most was his emphasis on people. In his words, “When we follow Jesus, He doesn't lead us to places as often as He leads us to people.” Jon's heart for people is clearly evident in the various challenges he gives his readers as well as in the stories he tells. And that, too, is a strength of Jon. He is a storyteller who weaves together compelling examples from his own life and congregation to illustrate the power of verbs in the Christian faith.
Another thing I appreciated about Jesus Prom is it's clear call to community. This is especially evident in Jon's reminders that “You can't hide and heal at the same time” and that “The potential for change is greater with we than me.”
In a time when criticism for the local church seems to grow on a daily basis, I also found Jon's love for the church – something that again reinforces his clear call to community - refreshing. He reminds us, “Jesus and His bride, the church, are inseparable. Anyone who says they hate the church hates the man who died on the cross for the church.” He then calls the church “to be an identical twin to its founder.”
Despite it's strengths, Jesus Prom is not a perfect book. It's weakness is this: Too often, Jon writes in soundbites or perhaps more accurately still – tweets. Rather than consistently go for the quick soundbite, I wish Jon would have more often fleshed out his ideas and done what he does best – tell a compelling story.
Despite that, Jesus Prom is a book that will resonate with disgruntled evangelicals – those frustrated by churches who talk more about serving than actually serve. In that setting, this book will work particularly well as the basis for small group discussions. In addition to providing small groups with discussion fodder, Jesus Prom will challenge and encourage people to go out into the world and “bring as much of heaven to earth today so that we can take as much of earth to heaven someday.”
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Jesus Prom in exchange for an honest review of it.