Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Review: Chazown



I honestly wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this book up for review.  I'm a big fan of the modern Christian movement to explore life purpose and vision, but frequently the resources are shallow, over the top or written for "baby" Christians who still need spiritual milk. I'll be leading a bible study group through a series on vision and purpose this spring and I've been looking for "steak" for them.  I believe this book fits the bill nicely.

The title of the book comes from the Hebrew word חזון, which is pronounced in English, "Chazown" (make sure you make that "ch" sound nice and guttural).  The word means "vision, dream or revelation." Knowing what I now know about the Hebrew language it probably has about 40 other uses as well, but that is the usage that the author is going for in this book. I'm not entirely sold on his use of the word, but frankly, the book is good overall, so that's just me being picky. 

Groeschel approaches the topic in an orderly fashion, keeping the reader engaged at the same time.  He breaks the book up into sections: Why you need a new kind of vision, where to find your vision, how to name your vision and get started reaching for it, the small changes that make a big difference and finally, the importance of community and accountability in relation to having a vision and purpose in your life.  I really like his build up and approach.  Not only does Groeschel provide good exploration exercises in the book, he has provided a whole website (http://www.chazown.com/) with more exercises to work through in conjunction with reading the book.  This interactive feature makes it a valuable resource for group leaders and is a big reason I plan on integrating this book into the study I'm leading soon.

The voice of this book is humorous and friendly, keeping the audience interested and engaged.  It moves the reader to action and a desire for more of the abundant life that Christ promises his people (John 10:10).  This is a good book for an individual seeking deeper meaning in their life or for a church or small group leader hoping to move people to a greater feeling of importance and need for action. That said, I want to warn that we as an American church culture need to be careful when using resources like this.  Self-exploration is vital.  The more we know about ourselves, the better able we are to open ourselves up fully to the purpose God created us for.  That said, the "me" focus is a dangerous place to be if left to run amok.  I'm not saying that the author approaches this from an individualistic viewpoint- his section on community shows otherwise.  What I'm saying is that it's easy to see this as a "what can God do for me to make my life better" book rather than "what is in me that God wants to use to build up His Kingdom."  

Obviously, as I'm planning on putting this book in as part of my small group curriculum next year, I recommend this book.  It's not ground-breaking or surprising in any way, but it is well thought out and carefully organized.  It's engaging and relevant.  This is a great little workhorse of a book that will get much use in any pastoral library.

And. . . like always. . . gotta tell you that the publisher (http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/) was nice enough to send me a reviewer copy of the book just so I could review it on the ol' blog.  I didn't have to say anything nice about it, but I did anyway. 

Also. . . please take a sec to rank my review.  When you rank my review of this book, you are entered for a chance to win a copy of the book.

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