"The Invitation" by Greg Sidders

Greg Sidders. Invitation, The: The Not-So-Simple Truth about Following Jesus. Revell, 2011. 160 pages. 

Jesus called his disciples with a simple invitation: "Follow Me." He calls us the same way. What many find, as they set out on this journey, is that a simple invitation quickly becomes incredibly difficult to follow. Greg Sidders is one of those people. A person for whom the 'red letters' became something to avoid. 

In The Invitation, Sidders invites readers to go deeper into their obedience to this command. He explores what Jesus is calling us to, what discipleship is, and why it is more than worth giving up everything to follow Jesus. Set out in thirteen chapters with a study guide in the back, The Invitation is a formulaic Christian living book (Step 1: Begin each chapter with personal story. Step 2: See what the bible has to say about the issue. Step 3: Bring the point to the reader) designed to offer an introduction to, and encouragement in, the Christian life. 

As such, it is quite a good book. Sidders honesty is one of the qualities which helps the most in making this an effective introduction to following Christ. He does not mince words when it comes to acknowledging how he has struggled to take Jesus' commands seriously. He offers a frank analysis of what it costs to follow Jesus, and what it costs to not follow Jesus. Though it is a formulaic book, Sidders is a decent writer. His stories are not excessive, nor off the point, and even if they felt a little bit too much like mediocre sermon illustrations they still got his point across. More important than the style, or the quality of the stories, is the fact that Sidders gives a theologically sound, experientially satisfying, and spiritually encouraging call to the life of discipleship as a core part of Christianity. 

Many of Sidders chapters contain good summaries of material you can find elsewhere. Some examples: Chapter 3, 'Minimum Requirement', argues for discipleship as a requirement of faith; I felt like I was read a concise, and clear, Dallas Willard. Chapter 11, 'Abiding for Dummies', is straight out of Andrew Murray. Chapter 13, 'The Power of One', is vintage Robert Coleman discipleship/multiplication material.  You may have thought, from the first sentence in this paragraph, that I was about to criticize Sidders for this. I intend quite the opposite. You can do far worse, and not much better, than those kinds of influences. 

4.5 of 5 Stars. Recommended. I am happy to say that this is a book I will use. It will come in handy as a pastor, and I can see myself ordering more copies to give away. Grab one if you get the chance. 

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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