So, today is the big day. The book that you all have heard about for years and that I have been working on for even longer is finally available today! If you’re wanting a copy, you can pick it up here.
We’ve been encouraging everyone to pick up a copy today if possible, in order to help boost visibility on Amazon.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the book, my good friend Sean Hughley will be interviewing me tonight on Facebook live at 7:00 PM CST tonight. You can find my Facebook profile here.
So what is “Stick Your Neck Out”?
I’m glad you asked. The body of Christ has been going through an amazing change in the last two decades. One of those changes I see is that the church is becoming simpler, more relational with Jesus, and more relational with each other. Instead of being caught up in the every day busy-ness of running a 501(c)3, keeping an organization going, and keeping a building open, more Christians are opting to meet in small groups outside of the church building and outside of the “traditional church.” These churches are more like small, spiritual families, full of people who want to obey the commands of Jesus and be a part of a community of faith that is simple and hands on. We have traditionally called these gatherings “house churches.”
But aren’t there a lot of books on house churches?
Yes, there are. Books like Organic Church, Houses that Change the World, and Letters to the Church have done an amazing job at describing these changes taking place. “Stick Your Neck Out” does two things a little differently:
1) Stick Your Neck Out is about activating the body of Christ to do the things they’ve read about in books like these. In so many circles, I meet people who are stirred by the ideas of house churches, but they are waiting for someone to start one so that they can join. But friends, it’s time to stop putting off the things God has put in our hearts. House churches aren’t hard to start but they do require you to take a risk. Maybe no one will show up. Maybe lots of people will show up and that will bring with it its own set of difficulties. Regardless, “Stick Your Neck Out!” So, while you won’t need to have read all those other books (I’ll catch you up), this book is a call to do something with all those thoughts about house churches.
2) Stick Your Neck Out is short. Most of those books are 150-200+ pages. While this length provides tremendous depth, it doesn’t help someone feel like house churches are easy to start. My goal in writing was to keep the book short and simple so that anyone picking it up would have a hard time being intimidated by it. If house churches are as simple as we tell people, we shouldn’t need a tome in order to start one, just a few quick pointers. I’ve been in so many conversations with people who have wanted to start house churches where I wanted to leave them something to encourage them and point them in the right direction. “Stick Out Your Neck” is that.
If you’re a house church person, grab yourself a copy. You might learn a thing or two. But more realistically there will be a brother or sister that God will give you to pass it on to so it can encourage them in their journey.
If you’re not part of a house church right now, that’s okay. Maybe you will be! And definitely, if you’ve longed for a chance to be a part of a house church, but one hasn’t popped up around you, pick this book up. It will help.
Lastly, if you’ve read this far, could you help me out and share this article or the link to the book on Amazon today? It would really help.
What It’s About: A.J. Dejonge tells the autobiographical story of their time as Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) University missionaries when he and his team made a transition from a staff-led campus ministry to a student-led campus ministry. This allowed CCC staff to start and oversee multiple campus ministries at different colleges. Based on this experience, he argues that student-led (or lay-led) ministries can reach more people than any revival through the means of disciple multiplication. Dejonge contends that only catalytic ministry styles will allow CCC, other college ministries, and even the church itself achieve the multiplication disciples it is called to.
What I Liked: There was so much to like here!
First, Dejonge is clearly interested in starting movements where people need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is something people who have fallen in love with Jesus should be pursuing and his passion to reach the lost is contagious. Everything that is found within the pages of this book is focused on getting more people involved in reaching those who haven’t come to love Jesus.
While the book tells the story of their campus ministry expansion, it’s organized around different proverbs that their ministry has discovered. These proverbs help tease out the wisdom of their approach of putting every day students in charge of the ministry of reaching the campus. A few of the proverbs include: “Lead only to train,” “Value transferability over personal genius,” and “The empowered masses will always outperform the professionalism of a few.” Many of these proverbs are designed to help navigate the tricky balance between being a too-heavily centralized ministry or a healthy decentralized movement.
I love how the principles found in this book don’t just apply to CCC. While everything he learned during his time is taught through the lens of a college ministry, many of the concepts of multiplication have been borrowed from experienced church multiplication experts and can be easily implemented in multiplying ministry in the church. Dejonge essentially said part of this process was designed to help his college students start churches if they graduate and move to towns where no churches exist. At the very end of the book he acknowledges he is now in the process of planting a church outside of CCC using the very principles he is writing about.
What I Didn’t Like: There’s really only one chapter of the book I didn’t like. Chapter 10 is called “Ownership and Control” and Dejonge wrestles with the question of who really owns the ministry in this chapter. By the end of the chapter, it’s clear that while Dejonge is clearly in favor of giving much of the ministry happening on each campus to the college students on each campus, at the end of the day it’s still the staff who are ultimately in charge. This seemed odd from a book called “Giving Up Control.” He talks about a nearby college ministry that wanted support, but ultimately did not want to become a CCC affiliate and then goes on to speak about the wisdom of franchises. I think here, he misses the point of humility, being teachable, and healthy response to mentors in favor a business model that is man-centered. He makes some understandable points about why CCC staff is still ultimately in control of each ministry and yet there is a sense in reading this chapter that the name and brand of the ministry may still occupy a little too high of place in the author’s mind.
Should You Get It: Probably! If you’ve never been in ministry or never thought about multiplying disciples and churches, I would likely point you to an easier entry point like “The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Coleman, because it’s more accessible for every Christian. However, if you are in any kind of leadership capacity, if you have a heart for making disciples that make disciples, if you have apostolic leanings, or you’re part of a house church or church plant, I would seriously encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. It has a lot of practical wisdom about instilling skills and competencies in people so that you can entrust the work of the Gospel to them with minimal oversight and this is critical to raising up movements of the Gospel.