I live in Barrington, in the shadow of Willow Creek. I’ve long been familiar with the service they offer called, “The Practice”. As a youth worker in the ELCA, I’m intrigued by an evangelical community dabbling in a more liturgical style of worship. For that reason, I was excited to read Aaron Niequist’s The Eternal Current: How a Practice-Based Faith Can Save Us from Drowning.
In The Eternal Current, Aaron wrestles with the question, “Should I double down on a faith that no longer works or abandon the whole thing?”
For Aaron, the answer to this question lay in discovering and drawing from some of the church’s ancient practices. That led to the creation of The Practice, which he describes by saying, “Jesus Christ is the center of everything we do and the Eucharist is the center of everything we practice.” He goes on to explain, “Our why of swimming with the Eternal Current is to align with the kingdom of God. Our how is through spiritual practices. Our what is a community of practice.”
What Aaron espouses is that people aren’t changed by simply filling their minds with different ideas. “Rather than approaching our church gatherings as a classroom (to fill our minds with information) or a concert hall (to move our hearts with emotion), we long to create a spiritual gymnasium, which can form our whole selves.”
One of the things I most appreciate about Aaron and The Eternal Current is the way he values the larger church body. According to him, “Each church tradition needs to be understood as one part of the bigger body of Christ. Each is absolutely critical, but each on its own is only one part of the story.”
As a Lutheran, I also love Aaron’s growing appreciation for communion, which he says is “re-forming him from the inside out.”
At times, The Eternal Current felt like it was a bit repetitive to me, as though it was dragging. But overall, The Eternal Current is worth reading. Mainliners will enjoy seeing practices they are no doubt familiar with explored from another perspective. And evangelicals - especially those frustrated by the church – will find The Eternal Current a refreshing read that reminds them, “If your faith feels like a heavy burden, then it’s not the way of Jesus, who proclaims freedom, sight, favor, faith, hope, and love.”
I was honored to receive a copy of The Eternal Current from Waterbrook Press and chose to review the book. All opinions are my own.