So, I have this awesome opportunity to read and review books from New Hope Publishers. It’s a great way to score some free books and have some accountability to read! Anyway, here is review number one (review number two will come today or tomorrow).

Trolls and Truth: 14 Realities About Today’s Church That We Don’t Want to See is written by Jimmy Dorrell. He is the lead pastor of Church Under the Bridge and also the Executive Director of Mission Waco in Waco, TX. This is a little book and quick read. It hits on 14 key issues that Dorrell has found to be truths that the first world American church needs to hear. He argues that most of the American church ignores the poor and broken in their communities. He is writing from his own experiences as a pastor to those very people. He tells the stories of 14 different people. Those stories each function as a parable for a particular truth that he believes the contemporary church can learn from those people who live on the fringe of society. He covers a wide range of issues including appearance, actions, societal barriers, giving, communication, and music.

I found that his most powerful chapters were regarding the issues of gifts (Dedrick’s Truth) and the fact that the “rich need the poor” (Catfish and Pilgrim Bill’s Truth). Regarding giftedness, Dorrell tells the story of Dedrick and his unique issues and life. While Dedrick has serious mental limitations he joyfully worshiped God. Dorrell’s church embraced him and found a place for his infectious excitement and exuberance. He served the community with how he was made. This is particularly challenging. If you look around your congregation you know who “those” people are. Will you embrace them and find a place for them to serve their God or will you ignore them?

Catfish and Pilgrim Bill’s tale flips the script on the American mindset. It argues for the fact that the rich need the poor. The rich need the poor because it is through their engagement with them that they find meaning and purpose. The poor teach them what it means to love and care for things beyond the almighty dollar. The rich need to get outside themselves and it is through relationships with the poor that they are able to break out of their self-centeredness. Truly powerful.

One area that I find weak in Dorrell’s text is that I wish he would have written from a bit of a more universal application of his principles. The question that I kept coming to was, “What if you do not have access/proximity to these kinds of people?” For example, our church is located in Farmington Hills, MI. While there are those who struggle and there are certainly a handful of homeless people, it is not a hot-bed for the poor and indigent. For us to find the people represented in Dorrell’s parables, we would need to relocate the church. I believe that our church is called to where we are and that God has a mission for us. Dorrell would have provided an even greater tool for the church had he broadened his application a bit to more of a principle level.

All in all this is a wonderful book, especially if you are willing to do the work to take the application to the principle level and apply it to your context. Well worth the read.