Book Review – “Disruption” by Mark Deymaz

“Disruption” by Mark Deymaz was a book written for me. The summary on the back of the book states is all “We must become disruptive.” The author is talking about how we think about church. Amen.

Here’s a definition of what a disruptor is – “In an opinion piece for CNN, Mel Robbins, an expert on human behavior and motivation, wrote about people and organizations known in the business sector as disruptors. ‘The disruptor,’ she wrote, ‘is someone [or collectively an organization] whose entire ‘brand’ is…to turn the way we do things on its head….and then hand us the new rules for how things work.'” (pg. xxviii)

This is about effecting systemic change, and thinking differently. This is a time in which both of these things are essential in our world and for the church. Not because we need to change for the sake of change. Or because change is just something that happens. Rather this is a time of transformation and societal and cultural shifts in ways that require us to think differently. This is a time of systemic change in a multitude of ways, including the church. This is will either be the time of opportunity in which the church made the appropriate changes it needed to, or it will be a time of missed opportunity in which it didn’t for any number of reasons.

“Stated another way, disruptors can both see and sense what lies ahead, around the corner, long before others have even arrived at the intersection of present and future. Because they are out front and ahead of the curve, disruptors first define, then refine, and ultimately create new realities by changing the way we see things, think about things, and get things done. And once disruptors gain momentum, they don’t merely envision the future; they create and establish it. They frame the questions, shape the narrative, and influence the conversation. In so doing, they challenge what is and inspire what is yet to come.” (Pg. xxviii).

Deymaz makes a critical argument that I think is vital – Christ himself was a disruptor. And because he was the ultimate disruptor, “we will become disruptive by advancing the common good, influencing systemic change, and redeeming entire communities along spiritual, social, and financial fronts.” (Pg. xxix).

And that’s what this book is about. Being a disruptor. Making the church disruptive – making it disruptive on multiple fronts. It’s about listening. It’s about innovation. It’s about the building of community. It’s about justice. It’s about planning. It’s about financial soundness. It’s about being creative. It’s about using resources. It’s about seeing opportunities. It’s about getting outside the walls of the church and seeing the church as more than just a worship service – but rather as something that drives us out to go and do and be something much more. It’s about church creating shalom wholeness in community. And the only way you do that is by disrupting the status quo of what is going on right now.

Deymaz offers a guide of how to do that. He tells stories of how he did that in his community. He gives ideas of what worked in his context. It may not work in yours, but that’s ok. This book isn’t about “Follow this exactly and you’ll get the same results.” Rather, the point is about innovation and thinking differently. It’s about knowing your context. It’s about listening to the Spirit and holy risk. It’s about discernment and discipleship. It’s about disrupting what you think you know about church because that’s always the ways you’ve done it to letting go of those ideas and embracing something you aren’t as familiar with – faith. I’m not talking about head knowledge about God and Jesus. I’m talking about embracing the unknown and going forward anyway. That’s scary. But there’s a question – is this what God is calling us to? Faith doesn’t give us anything certain. But it does give us hope. And we need that when we are venturing into the unknown. That’s what the disciples needed. That’s what the first followers of Jesus needed. And that’s what we are given too.

There’s some good ideas in this book and there are things I totally disagree with too. And yet overall, it’s a great book because it does exactly what it says it will do – disrupt your thinking. The author never claims to have all the answers. He’s got examples of what has worked in some settings. What works for you in your setting will be different. At the core of it lies this – disruption, thinking differently, innovation, creativity. You can’t get a different result by thinking about the situation the same way. And the church needs to think differently. Not to get more members, or to get more money. That’s still thinking the same way and still thinking about the church in the same box. It’s time to think outside the box when it comes to the church and what it is about. The church isn’t about membership and money. It’s about Jesus. I don’t know of too many people that get excite about membership and money. I don’t. But Jesus and what he’s about and what he offers – that’s a different story. That’s disruptive to what the world offers. Give me that and things change. Lives change. That’s what the church needs to be about.

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