Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own - eBook
How to have a faith of your own
Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook is a must read. If you are in ministry, lead a small group, a youth pastor or even a parent - this book is a great one to read. Ryan and Josh, brothers, talk about how as Pastor's kids they grew up having a faith but when they went to college and crisis of their own happened, they realized that their faith wasn't firm. How do you have firsthand faith? Faith that is not your parents, teachers, or someone else's but your own.
"It doesn't matter how real your parents' faith is, or anyone else's for that matter, if you don't develop a faith of your own. A handed-down faith that you've never owned for yourself doesn't give meaning to your life...Hand-me-down faith may work when things are going well, but when pressures and problems hit, what you thought you believed will crumble." pg. 5
8 chapters, including: Why Firsthand Matters, Sick of Secrets, Real Faith, Real Change, and First Hand Community, bring you through the process of having "hand-me-down" faith and turning it into "firsthand" faith. Each chapter has some letters and responses from real people, a Think About It, and a Might Try This section to help you apply what has been taught to your own life and pass it on to others.
As a pastor and a mom, I want my children to have a strong belief in Jesus Christ but I don't want it just to be something they put on because of me. I want them to have a firsthand faith, a faith that withstand the test of time, trials and anything that this world gives to them.
September 16, 2013
Recommend to anyone questioning their salvation.
This is a terrific read and I would highly recommend it to anyone (young or old) that's questioning their salvation.
July 19, 2013
Discovering your faith firsthand & making it yours
Brent and Josh Shook are two preacher's sons who knew all the right thing to do and say, but Christianity was their parent's religion--not theirs. When they reached their late teen years and early twenties, they started questioning their faith and sharing their innermost feeling with a few good friends. Through that process they found that the Bible is real and relevant. Their book is a practical encouragement to seek God through the Bible, good friends, and community.
I liked the "Making it Real" section at the end of each chapter. There are testimonials, searching questions, and tips to help a person find the true answers. Ryan made short films on the web to remind himself and others that there is more to the Christian life. Go to FirsthandBook.cm/Empty to watch one of them.
I am more conservative in my worship and lifestyle than was talked about in the book, but I appreciate Brent and Josh's desire to serve the Lord wholeheartedly with the talents God has given to them. Many young people "lose" their faith in their twenties because it was never theirs. This is a good book to help Christian young people discover their relationship with God. (reviewed by M.Reynolds)
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Blogging for Books on behalf of the publisher and authors in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.
July 27, 2013
One of the Big Risks of Growing up in the Church
"Firsthand" by Ryan and Josh Shook has a subtitle giving a great description: "Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own." Don't misread that- they aren't encouraging kids to walk away from the eternal truths that their parents have so diligently taught them. No, these young men are addressing what I believe is one of the biggest risks of growing up in the church: the risk of having a "second hand" (or think hand-me-down) faith. Ask a Christian teen why they believe Jesus rose from the dead, God created the world and heaven and hell are real places. I'm pretty sure they'll tell you "because the Bible says so." After all, we start singing "Jesus loves me this I know" before they can talk. It doesn't take long for our children to grow and sing the words along with us: "for the Bible tells me so!"
Better yet, ask a teen or an even younger child, "Are you a Christian?" and you would be surprised how many times the response will be in the plural form: "Yes, we are Christians." Some of this stems from a strong sense of the family unit in the younger years, but in the case of teens, it may stem from the fact that they see Christianity as something their family does. They might say, "Yeah, we go to church," or "We read the Bible." This perspective could be an indicator that a child doesn't have an individual, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Shook brothers describe a second-hand faith in their opening chapter (page 5):
"Our parents taught us that Christianity wasn't about religion and rules but about a relationship with the God who made us. [...] We truly feel blessed to have parents who have a real and authentic faith. But it's theirs.
It doesn't matter how real your parents faith is, or anyone else's for that matter, if you don't develop a faith of your own. A handed-down faith that you've never owned for yourself doesn't give meaning to your life. You might sort of wear it, but it doesn't say much about who you are. In fact, hand-me-down beliefs can start to weigh on you. [...] a bar set too high that reminds you of your failures. Or they just seem outdated and irrelevant."
What's the big deal if our (or our kids') faith is handed-down? Aren't we supposed to learn from previous generations? Yes, we should learn from older believers and of course we should "hand down" our faith to our children, but the goal of teaching young ones about God is that they should develop a thirst, passion, and commitment to learning Who He is for themselves and drawing nearer to Him on an intimate level.
Ryan & Josh share their own personal experiences with doubt about Biblical Truths, frustration with the church community and other issues they wrestled with as they reached adulthood and began examining how they lived their lives and why. Unsure at first if they even wanted to continue in their faith, they started a journey to discover what they believed. They gained a lot of insight into the plague of hand-me-down faith which seems to have a grip on masses of young Christians and they share gems of wisdom, practical application, and candid quotations from others facing similar challenges.
They tackle some heartfelt concerns in such an easy going manner that I had to actually go back and make sure each of these questions had been addressed. Yes, indeed, they were! Their casual writing style is so easy going that some of the points they make do not "jump out" at you while reading, but in reflection you will realize the real depth and meaning of what they've conveyed. Here is a list from inside the dust jacket:
If God is real, then why do I feel empty?
Why should I even try to follow God when I fail so often?
How do I experience a connection with Christ that's more than surface level?
Can I ever get past a "checklist Christianity" of dos and don'ts?
Is it possible to have authentic faith when I'm full of doubts and questions?
Can I really discover my purpose in life through a relationship with Christ?
How can I find a community of other people who take firsthand faith seriously?
I was not raised in a Christian home, so while I had a hard time relating to some of the sentiments described by the authors, I immediately recognized that some of the concerns and complaints they voiced were word-for-word things that have come out of our 12 year old's mouth. If you have a firsthand faith already, and you have kids or are an influential figure (aunt, uncle, teacher, daycare provider, etc) in young people's lives, then you are likely surrounded with some second-hand religious followers. Reading this book (or having it around for them to read if they're old enough) is going to be worthwhile!
Some portions, however, were very easy to relate to and did resonate with me. Topics addressed include:
feeling burnt out (Chapter titled "Trashing the Checklist")
what happens when we don't respond to God's prompting in our lives; becoming a judgmental Christian (Chapter titled "Divine Disturbance)
being critical and dissatisfied with the church due to a false definition of what the church is and/or an unrealistic expectation/consumer mentality (Chapter titled "Firsthand Community")
I plan on having our daughter read this at some point, so I read it with a very critical eye. The only concern I had was on page 12, where they write, "We have no problem encouraging you to question the Lord. Why? Because He invites us to do that. 'Taste and see that the Lord is good,' He says (Psalm 34:8) Also, we truly believe in a God who is active and alive in our lives. So if there is any truth to what we believe, a loving God will reveal Himself to those who search for answers."
To me, the Scripture choice wasn't ideal. I understand that verse not as an invitation to doubt the Lord, but as an invitation to learn of His character- to draw near to Him to see for ourselves that He is good. It does not say: Come to see that the Lord is real. This made me hesitant, but I found nothing else that raised any red flags as far as having someone immature in their faith (and perhaps in general, lol) read the book.
****In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of this book courtesy of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purpose of reviewing. I didn't have to give a positive review, the opinions are mine.
July 5, 2013