Review: This Invitational Life by Steve Carter
Within each chapter the author’s excitement and wonder comes out through personal stories or stories from others that have impacted him, and then taking time to unpack how that all connects to God’s story and invitation. Steve writes in a manner that neither talks down or over simplifies the topic – which is no easy task.
Steve is a pastor. And this book is written from this perspective and posture. This is not to say the book isn’t theologically solid, rather that Steve’s intended audience is not academic and writes to meet all people in their daily lives and actions. Steve challenges us to see God at work and to see how God is inviting us all into participation with Him in every moment of our day. He pushes readers to look beyond the normal barriers that we might place between God and ourselves; to grow attune to how God might be at work around the world to bring individuals together with Him and with each other. Steve is writing to remind followers of Christ of the great invitation we have to engage the world.
If you have spent time in the church, the content feels very familiar but is remarkably refreshing.
“This Invitational Life is my attempt to redeem the least sexy work in all of Christendom: evangelism. It’s a word that has been hijacked, misunderstood, and misused.”
This was a statement Steve makes towards the end of the book and once I read it I remember saying out loud, “Thank you Steve”. Steve spent chapters setting the table for these two sentences and it was worth it. It’s worth it because certain things can trigger us – be it an overall experience, ours or another’s actions, and even words. The next time you’re around an individual or group of Christians and start asking for definitions and explanations of words like gospel, sanctification, trinity, missions, intentional community, saved, predestination, or free will; then offer a little resistance or push back once they begin to explain them and see how the conversation goes. Often what is lost is the common ground between people during those interactions.
And evangelism is one of those words as well, it’s a messy word, a word that regardless of what stripe of Christian or non-Christian you are carries with it baggage that simply gets in the way.
- It’s a term that most want to avoid using, let alone reclaim, because it feels it has been so exploited and devoid of deeper meaning that there can’t be any way of redeeming it.
- It is a term a few have grown comfortable with that it has become so boiled down to a systematic conversation or apologetic that there is a hesitation to engage, and some times fear, understanding it as a larger ‘invitation’.
- It is a term many non-believers despise because they believe it just means superficial relationships and interactions by individuals and groups for the sole purpose of getting them to ‘drink the cool-aid’.
I believe This Invitational Life is a needed reminder for us that we all have been invited into something greater. That we have been invited into life with a God that seeks to work not only in us but through us to bring His kingdom here and now. This is an invitation I so easily forget, it’s an invitation that many ignore, but it is an invitation that will always remain – that God desires us all, always.
This book needs to be read…