book review: Jesus Called–He Wants His Church Back, by Ray Johnston

I hate that I judge books by their covers, but I still do it. It was hard not to judge this one by its cover—or its title. Jesus Called—He Wants His Church Back. It’s like Ray Johnston asked a fourth grade girl to decide what he should call his newest book. However, the publisher’s description sounded intriguing enough and I’d get a free copy anyway, so why not try it out? If I hated it, then oh well.

I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t like it either. It was just…bland. Tired. A well-intentioned message put forth poorly. It’s hard for me to put my finger on what exactly was so prosaic about this book; I just couldn’t get into it. Don’t get me wrong, Johnston doesn’t say anything in this book that’s untrue. But, then again, he doesn’t say anything new either. This kind of book has been written before and executed better.

Perhaps that most tedious aspect of this book is that each chapter is basically a series of Buzzfeed lists detailing these five steps to do this and these twelve steps to do that. These lists were not only exhausting to read, but could be potentially misleading. What happens if a reader completes each step and the desired outcome doesn’t come about? Or worse, what happens if a reader completes each step and believes that they have reached the summit of faith? Following Jesus isn’t a checklist, and following a bunch of steps doesn’t guarantee anything.

Again, I will reiterate that this is not a bad book. In fact, for the right reader this could even be a very good book. Plus, Ray Johnston would probably be very good at Twitter, because he proves that he’s capable of packing a convicting punch in 140 characters or less. Unfortunately, his book is much like a tweet: lacking in depth. I believe the reason for this lack of depth is that Johnston tries to cover so many topics in a 200-page book. In essence, he sacrifices depth in favor of breadth. Perhaps if he could have gone more in-depth into some of these topics, I would have gotten more out of this book. As it is, though, this one is probably not something I’ll be recommending.

My Rating: 2/5

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.