"Organic Outreach for Families: Turning Your Home Into a Lighthouse" by Kevin and Sherry Harney is the third book in the "Organic Outreach" series. The Harneys offer this definition: "Organic outreach is not a program that every person follows the same way. It is an understanding of faith and life that releases every believer to share the love and message of Jesus in a way that feels right for them" (p. 11).
Consisting of three sections (Reaching your own family, Raising children of light in a dark world, and Turning your home into a lighthouse), each section offers practical information on how to become a light in your family (immediate and extended) and neighborhood. Kevin and Sherry take turns with authoring the different chapters, and their three sons also include brief stories and reflections throughout the book. Each chapter concludes with a "Becoming a Lighthouse" section with several ways to implement the principles discussed in the chapters in your own family.
As a mom of two small boys, I really appreciated the ideas in the book. As we are called to make disciples, it needs to begin at home. It caused me to reflect and reevaluate ways that I am introducing my boys to Jesus, as well as ways that I need to do better. I loved the stories that they told to show how the principles came to life in their own home.
This is a great, practical handbook full of ideas that can be implemented in your own home and neighborhood. It's perfect for families, but several chapters are perfectly appropriate for singles or couples without children.
(I've received this complimentary book through the Book Sneeze program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)
First I would like to say that I enjoyed this book very much! I made lots of markings in it so that I could quickly refer back to different parts. I also made a list of people who I would like to pass the book on to. Some don't have children or homes yet but it is something that will help them now and in the future.
The book begins by talking about living out the gospel in your home, instructing your children but not pushing them into a decision. And then reaching your extended family for God, from your siblings all the way up to your grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
The Harneys then move on to raising your children in a dark world. Raising your family does not only include feeding, clothing, and running them to all their events. It is also DISCIPLINE! Yes, many Christians seem to think that they shouldn't be consistent at disciplining their children. Which is why we have such a generation of spoiled acting young people. You can lovingly discipline your children without beating them down. I personally thought this was a great section of the book.
Making your home a lighthouse to your neighborhood doesn't have to be a stuffy ordeal and Kevin and Sherry tell many ways that you can make your home attractive to your neighbors. Along with this they also express the need for boundaries and when to say yes, later, or no. Even though your home shines the light of Jesus it is still the home of your family and should not be taken over by anyone who wants to drop in for a while.
After each chapter there are things that you can do to practice what was covered in the just read chapter. It offers great insight on doing things that allows the light of Jesus to shine through you. They quoted this scripture (Mathew 4:14-16) and stressed that YOU are the light of the world through Jesus. Sounds kind of arrogant but it is true.
"14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
This book has helpful information about ways to expand your families outreach. The outreach it is talking about is being a family that witnesses for the Lord in all they do. I gave this book a 4/5 stars. I did not find as much helpful information in this book as I thought I would. I did think it was more of a do this and this book then just helpful advice. I felt it was saying if you do not do these things then you are not doing enough for the Lord as a family. I do however think that if you are looking for some ways your family can make more of a difference in the world this book would be a great read for you.
I would like to thank the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
How to reach your kids and neighbors intentionally
April 15, 2013
This book takes us on a journey learning how to introduce our children, families, and communities to Jesus and His life through everyday life. It is full of practical applications and links to more resources in each area. Several times I thought the only way to improve on what they've done would be to have them visit each of us and help tailor things to our particular situation.
Starting with reaching our own children, moving through how to share with unbelieving relatives, and ending with practical ways to make an impact on our communities, the Harneys set themselves a big task and fulfill it winsomely.
The Harneys are experienced in many ways and it shows throughout the book. Their 3 grown sons each contributed essays to support their parents' message, which is a wonderful testimony for a pastor's family involved in the public school system. Sprinkled throughout the book are examples of how their lives have been used by God in each area they are covering.
What I most appreciated about this book was the balance the Harneys achieved, both inspiring us to aim higher, and encouraging us no matter how far we have to go.
It was just a little discouraging trying to picture myself mimicking Mrs. Harney's style of outreach. She's a born server who revels in cooking and casual entertaining. I'm not. The book does point out outreach will look different for each person but don't flesh out what this might look like. If you tend to think you have to "do it all" you'll probably find parts of the book overwhelming!
My suggestion is to keep in mind your family's spiritual gifts and ask God for wisdom to find how to consciously reach out to people around you based on the way He designed you. The Harney's book is certainly a great place to start the conversation.
Organic Outreach for Families: Turning Your Home into a Lighthouse is the last book of the trilogy written by Kevin and Sherry Harney. This reviewer had not heard of nor previously read any of Pastor Harney's works, so my review is without bias or agenda.
In the introduction, the authors are helpful is sketching out the book's direction, which is challenging Christian families to pursue gospel moments through the use of their home in a natural, organic and relational way. Part one focuses on helping parents reach their children and extended family with the love of the gospel in practical ways. In part two, the Harney's share their life experiences and proven methods of how they encouraged their kids to live out the Great Commission. Finally, the last section of the book focuses on the home itself: how to build a lighthouse, how to make it shine and how to avoid the dimming or covering of its light.
One of my first impressions of the book is that it is an easy read. The generous use of personal anecdotes and minimal theological terminology is perfect for newer Christians or those with an aversion to technical or complex argumentation.
Another factor that adds to the broad marketability of the book is its emphasis on the practical, not the theoretical. Most of the chapters offer bullet points of sensible advice, clearly drawn from years in the trenches of pastoral ministry. An excellent example of this is chapter seven: The Home as a Playground, where Sherry Harney, under the subtitle The Pathway to Fun, offers nine lessons ranging from #3Ã¢â¬âSay Yes Whenever You Can, #5Ã¢â¬âSlow Down or #8Ã¢â¬âSet Boundaries (my personal favorite). These lessons are strategically universal and ready for immediate implementation.
One of the unexpected joys of this book is the author's commitment to eclectic evangelism. If there is any consistent methodology found in this work, it is the consistent dispersion of the Harney's personal testimony. No Evangelism Explosion, Way of the Master or any other recent (or antiquated) evangelism technique is promoted or even mentioned. To this reviewer, I found this emphasis immensely practical and reinforced my conviction that most Christians don't need a memorized system, just a little faith and a commitment to the mission.
The other unexpected joy is the special sections or "grey areas" within each chapter. These areas function to bring additional perspectives (mainly from the Harney's boys) or to elucidate important concepts such as the gospel, sin or forgiveness. In my opinion, these "grey areas" infused some much needed theological depth, which may give it more shelf life as a viable resource for the local church.
I do have one criticism, though.
The authors seem to have a subtle bent towards philosophical pragmatism.
On page 60 Pastor Harney writes,
"I was speaking to a woman in my family who had been investigating the Christian faith_for 25 years. This particular family member has a passion for music. Music touches her soul in a way that is deep and true to who she is, so over the years I gave her great Christian music. She loved it_..and eventually began attending a wonderful church near her home, and she joined the choir. She was not yet a follower of Jesus, but she loved singing and connecting with the other choir members, and they lovingly welcomed her."
He goes on to write that at a later time she heard the gospel and responded in faith to the saving work of Jesus.
To be clear, I am thankful this lady gave her life to Christ, but as the saying goes, "The end doesn't justify the means." In my opinion, this approach is just as foolish as "missionary dating" and as inappropriate as putting a new convert in a position of church leadership (I Tim. 3:6). Innovation and risk-taking (p. 171) does not trump the priority of spirit-filled and truth-driven worship (John 4:24).
Overall, I endorse this entertaining, well-written book. It made me look within myself and ask these questions, "Am I really about outreach in my neighborhood?", "Am I balanced in my parenting approach?", "Is selfishness hindering me from being more involved in my community?" As I stated above, this will be a helpful resource to those new to the Christian faith and those who need some practical guidance of how to live "in the world", but not "of the world".