Tag Archives: monkey and the fish

the monkey and the fish

monkeyandthefish1The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church, by Dave Gibbons

here’s a little back story before i get to the actual book review: i’d known about this dave gibbons guy for a while, but mostly because i’m friends with the youth pastor at his church (april diaz). i spend enough time with enough youth pastors to have an internal divining rod for when there’s a rare, exceptional senior pastor (especially when it comes to believing in and supporting the youth worker). and from my interactions with april, dave gibbons is clearly one of those rare, exceptional senior pastors.

when i finished the rough draft of my book, youth ministry 3.0, i gave an unedited copy to april. she sent me the single most encouraging email i received from my early readers; and it was loaded with stuff about how the book put into words stuff their church was trying to do. she’d had others on the church leadership team read it, and she was the first to challenge me with the idea that there might need to be a “church 3.0” version of the book developed. then, dave gibbons spoke at our youth workers convention in toronto last fall, and i pre-arranged for he and i to spend some time together. i’m sure many have this feeling when they meet dave, but it was one of those meetings where i felt i was talking with someone on the same journey as me, in terms of thinking about the church (and, really, i felt like dave was a few steps in front of me, to say the least). in that meeting, i decided to mention the idea of dave co-authoring a church leader version of ym3.0 with me, and we’ve had a couple more discussions about it since. who knows if that will happen or not, but i came to dave’s new book with all of that in mind.

also, dave is the “special guest” at an invitation-only gathering of seasoned middle school ministry pastors i bring together every year, when we meet a little over a week from now. so those of us attending that event all agreed to read this book.

it’s funny: april had written me, a year ago, saying that she found herself saying “yes!” through much of my book; and that’s exactly how i felt while reading dave’s. in fact, it was an almost surreal experience. as i wrote in a post the other day, there were so many moments, while reading it, that i felt like i was reading a parallel book to youth ministry 3.0. i had that sense (and i told dave this, in an email) that i was driving down a city street and, at the intersections, noticing another vehicle on a parallel streets traveling the same direction and speed.

the book is about church leadership in a global culture, on the surface. but, really, it’s about living christianly, in any cultural context, and in any time. because, at its core, the monkey and the fish is about the values of jesus, and how we can embody them (specifically as churches, and more broadly as “the church”). it’s a quick read, and very accessible. full of great stories from real-life attempts, successes and failures. it’s an honest book, revealing some of the author’s own failures and short-comings. parts of it are almost a spiritual memoir, as dave shares intimate struggles and personal context.

but what i liked most about the book is that the very form of the flow was reflective of the book’s points. in other words: it wasn’t linear and full of how-to’s. dave refers a few times to bruce lee’s suggestion that we become like water; and this book itself is fluid. this will likely frustrate some readers. it actually started to frustrate me, until i realized what was going on — then i sat back and enjoyed the ride!

i had a few minor gripes with the book:
– i think it’s a sexy but weak title, and the opening illustration it refers to doesn’t play a significant role in the book
– i wished dave would give us a clearer explanation of “third culture” from the start (and, while i think i “got it” as i read on, i wasn’t sure about the earliest definition)
– there were times when i wasn’t sure if dave was writing to church leaders (as the subtitle and “leadership network series” would imply) or a general christian audience.

but those were minor, as i said. and overall, i think this is a stellar book, by a brilliant outside-the-box pastor who is doing seriously innovative stuff around the world. i’m stoked about more interactions with him, and about whatever books he’ll write in the future.

monday morning update, february 16, 2009

the weekend that was: really great weekend with my family. friday night, jeannie and max and i got carry-out and watched “twins” on pay per view (ya know, that old one with danny devito and ah-nold). slept in on saturday really late. bumped around during the day. jeannie and i went out for a valentine’s day glass of wine. then the four of us went to dinner and to see coraline in 3d (which, i thought, did not come close to meeting the hype). sunday morning, i had breakfast with a close friend i haven’t gotten to spend enough time with lately; then he dropped me at the airport, where i flew to grand rapids. missed my connection in chicago by a few minutes (argh), and had to wait 3 1/2 hours for the next flight. but my friend (and zondervan co-worker) john raymond’s lovely wife was on my flights, and we had a nice time hanging out.

where i am at the moment: zondervan, in grand rapids. but only for a day. in fact, i’m here a total of 19 hours, including sleep. fly home tonite. was going to hang with pete vandersluis last night — was bummed to miss that due to my late flight.

on my to-do list this week: i’ll be in the office for three days this week, and am looking forward to getting caught up on some stuff. i got the developmental editor’s work back on the middle school ministry book, and have to respond to his questions and re-write suggestions by thursday. i haven’t been with my middle school guys small group in SO long, as i missed a couple weeks in late january, then we had two weeks off for other things that were happening in our church’s youth ministry. so i’m really looking forward to being with them on wednesday night. then, my kids have this whole week off school. max and i are having an “overnighter” in our backhouse on tuesday night (for… “the talk”). and thursday night, we’re all driving down to mexico to stay in the little beach house of some friends from church through sunday morning.

procrastinating about: well, i can’t procrastinate about the MSM book this week — have to get the edits done. but there’s still other work to do on it that i’m procrastinating about.

monkeyandthefishbook i’m in the midst of: finished jack handey’s what i’d say to the martians. still somewhere in the middle of the know it all (geez, i think i’ve been reading it in fits and starts for half a year!), as well as are you there, vodka? it’s me, chelsea. and i started dave gibbons’ new book, the monkey and the fish.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: had the party shuffle on this week. but i noticed that i always took note when an alannis morrisette song came on, or a rufus wainwright song. both such amazing songwriters.

next trip: after i get home tonite, i don’t have a flight for more than a month! i do have our junior high pastors summit in a few weeks, but it’s just a drive, up to forest home, NE of LA.

how i’m feeling about this week: not just this week, but i’m really looking forward to being home for a long stretch.