Andy Frost has written a really helpful, incisive little book that helps Christians work out how to share their story, and find their place in God’s unfolding story.
Story is important – we swim in the water of stories every day, where we are in or out of church. Long Story Short is a short book that offers both an incisive engagement with and critique of the major stories of our culture, and an invitation into God’s story. Andy starts the book with a solid introduction to the power of stories, before looking at the three big stories that drive most of us, most of the time. He helpfully challenges the futility of living life aiming for happiness, safety, or significance, and proposes ‘The God story’ as a better way to live.
Long Story Short is arguably a bit of a Swiss Army knife of a book. On the one hand, it is a helpful way to think about apologetics in our confused world, where story is more important (or so it seems) than truth. Certainly, Andy writes in a way that engages with doubters and sceptics, before inviting readers into the story of God, which we find in the Bible. On another hand, it is a book to offer identity and security to Christians, wondering how they fit into the world. It is also a helpful introduction to some of the big cultural issues facing us, as both Christians and humans: media, narrative, identity, meaning, etc.
From my perspective, Long Story Short is a great book that I can imagine recommending to pastors and leaders thinking of how to reach and disciple particularly younger people in our fast-changing world. It is also helpful for thinking through identity issues, and might be an appropriate book to read with a friend exploring faith and wondering how it could be possibly true. The reason this book manages to do both (And more!) is because of the way it sensitively engages with the reality of the world, and invites us further up and further in to the God story, the Kingdom of God. I love Andy’s description of the Kingdom:
“God’s kingdom, his reign here on earth, is about the transformation of all things, and God chooses to use us to bring about his transformation. The role of the Holy Spirting, the third person of God, is not just to give us a warm fuzzy feeling when we sing songs of worship but to empower us to see change here on earth. The God story is about the Holy Spirit leading us and prompting us into action. Our actions do not earn God’s favour, but they are a response to all he is and all he has done“
Whether that encourages you, infuriates you, or confuses you as a quote, you should probably read this book, and wrestle with the way stories shape us, and consider your place in the bigger, better story. Get your copy from SPCK.
For similar books, that help flesh out some of the other questions, I’d recommend:
- Glynn Harrison’s A Better Story – taking this narrative approach to culture and thinking about sex and identity in particular.
- Mark Meynell’s A Wilderness of Mirrors – a deeper book pondering why trust is so rare in our contemporary culture.
- Craig and Medine Keener’s Impossible Love – a beautiful, powerful and profound story of God’s love and care across cultures.