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  1. The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love
    The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love
    Dr. James Bryan Smith D.Min.
    Inter-Varsity Press / 2010 / Hardcover
    $16.99 Retail: $23.00 Save 26% ($6.01)
    4.5 Stars Out Of 5 3 Reviews
    Availability: In Stock
    CBD Stock No: WW835330
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4.3 out Of 5
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  1. California
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Good for small groups, less so for the individual
    November 13, 2013
    Dr Nicholson
    California
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute www.desertbibleinstitute.com.

    Dr. James Bryan Smith has written a good book for small group instruction as the third installment of his Apprentice series. The Good and Beautiful Community does a respectable job of looking at the importance of serving as one church under Christ and developing a faith community. All the ideas that Dr. Smith shares are both biblical and clearly from the heart. He obviously has a love for both God and God's people. Additionally, all his arguments are intelligent and well thought out.

    There are several reasons that this book will work well for a small group. The author has broken each idea down into small, manageable sections that could easily be read and discussed. He also has specific tasks for each member to do between the hearing of the current session and the next session. His ideas are organized and clear and he uses very little advanced vocabulary that would confuse the novice or lay-reader.

    All of that said, I didn't particularly enjoy the book. While there were a number of "nuggets" of wisdom that were useful, there wasn't a solid through-point that tied it all together. I'm not saying there wasn't a theme; because, there was. It just had the feel that these were several individual lessons strung together under one umbrella of "community" rather than a steady building of one thought. Again, this might work well for a group with expanses of time between readings, but becomes tiresome to the individual reader.

    Another issue was Smith's use of diction. Admittedly, I have not listened to his first two books, but it seems that he is trying to create his own, relevant terminology by using catch words and catch phrases of his own devising. The problem is they aren't all that catchy. His attempt to create a common vocabulary is clunky and occasionally is too vague to accomplish his purposes. This seems to be a matter of personal preference and style; however, since many of his quotes and examples from other authors have this same aesthetically displeasing discordance.

    Lastly, it seems that most of his examples seem to be limited to himself, his seminars, and Dallas Willard. While none of these are bad, it does lend a lack of scope to that he is saying. A more wide-ranging and balanced sense of research would not only level out some of the biases of the book but also allow the reader to experience other viewpoints on community so that they would have a fuller understanding of the importance of faith community.

    I have to assume that it was the author's style more than Maurice England's reading that made listening to this audio version challenging. England, as usual, read with crisp diction and a steady pace. While it was a smidgen more "announcer" than it was narrator, I thought it was good considering the challenges the book presented. I was left with the impression, at the end of this book, like it was good and I would be happy to endorse it to a novice study group, but I would be hesitant to recommend it as an individual read especially if the reader was going to listen straight through rather than utilizing the week-by-week structure established in the book. It seems likely the author realized this since he gave similar caveats in the introduction of the book - only with a more positive spin.

    Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson's blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.

    A copy of the book was generously offered to Dr. Nicholson by christianaudio.com in exchange for this unbiased review.
  2. Anchorage
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    October 22, 2013
    Birder2
    Anchorage
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Easy to use in a group with shared leadership. Very applicable. A little different perspective. Challenging.
  3. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    February 7, 2013
    Blessed
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Spectacular book, of course you should study book #1 & #2 before this one. Challenging. Great to do with a group.
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