Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God's Spirit Invades the Heart of His People - Jim Cymbala

I read this book for a men's group at my church. Jim Cymbala is the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle (yes, the one with the famous choir) and this book is essentially his story of how he came to be a pastor and why the church took off the way it did. He attributes everything to one simple reason: prayer. The book is part testimonial, part instructional. Cymbala not only shares amazing stories of lives that were changed, but also argues that prayer is essential (and perhaps sufficient) to the "success" of a church, where "success" is defined as being in line with God's will.

I had mixed reactions to the book, partly depending on whether I allowed myself to be more open to his message or whether I allowed myself to be more cynical. The cynic in me wondered when Cymbala talked about how church attendance wasn't the measure of success, but then talked about how many people attended their services, how many churches they've planted, or the way their choir has won awards and sold out concerts. He also talks about all these new-fangled methods other pastors preach or write about, and suggests that maybe what the church really needs is more prayer and fewer "how-to" books and conferences with special guest speakers; but then the way that he gets his own message out is through this book and guest speaking around the country.

On the other hand, the Brooklyn Tabernacle has certainly had some remarkable stories to tell, and the ones included in this book are only a handful. I don't argue that Cymbala hasn't seen some incredible results and the church is probably rare in having a weekday prayer meeting that competes with its Sunday morning services. So there is something in Cymbala's message, and he practices what he preaches. The book perhaps would have worked better if I had a better feeling for whether it was more testimonial or instructional, but maybe he didn't want to draw that distinction.

Fed to jonathan's brain | January 25, 2005 | Comments (0)


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