Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Review: This Beautiful Mess

I had some concerns with this book as I read it. It is not that it is a bad book. I really get the sense of Rick’s heart in this book. He certainly has a pastor’s heart and that comes through pretty clearly. His love for Jesus and others is unquestionable. His desire to draw folks back to a proper understanding of the Kingdom of God is a good one.

However, it is in the execution that, I think, McKinley falls a little short. Many of the topics and chapters had promise and he often made good points, but a lot of the book left me still unclear on some of the topics. I would have liked to see McKinley start the book with Appendix 1 because it gave some more grounding to what he was trying to do. He talked about how we have the idea of “kingdom” wrong, but it wasn’t always clear what that meant.

Now, part of my problem was that I did not know when the Bible verses ended and his thoughts began and vice versa, since he had no (or very few) chapter and verse references for the reader to check back with. Some are included in the notes, but there is nothing in the text of the book that tells me which note it is. This was a big issue because to get a proper understanding, we ought to be continually going back to the Biblical text.

Many of his thoughts and assertions also lacked Biblical foundation. McKinley would make claims and not have a reference to what verse, if any, this was pulled from. It was almost as if he thoughts the Bible verses would ruin the look or flow of the book. This caused me to be more distracted than I would like. It seems it would have been easy enough to include them.

Another problem I had was that there often seemed to be many stories about himself, his church, or his friends. Now, I understand this is to be included, but it seemed like a lot of self congratulations about how he or his church are doing this correctly, not like other folks.

I know some of this seems like nitpicking, and if they were isolated incidents, I would not have been bothered. But these issues continued through the book. I feel like this could have been a much stronger book, if it were shortened and tighter connections to the Biblical text were made. It seems like a sermon series that went on a little too long and it seemed like he was grasping for more to write about and it caused me to want to stop reading sooner than I would have liked.

If this is a topic you might like, and have a lot of free time, pick this up. It is a pretty easy read. But I do not recommend this for anyone just curious about the topic and/or someone who wants more content than McKinley delivers. 

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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