Start Tripping: a book review

Mark Batterson is the pastor of the National Community Church in Washington, DC and the author of several Christian bestsellers (The Circle Maker, The Grave Robber, All In, Soul Print, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Wild Goose Chase). While I have read Batterson profitably, even if I have areas of critique. Richard Foth is a retired pastor a generation older than Batterson. When Batterson and his wife Lora arrived in DC to plant a church twenty-one years ago, they developed a friendship with Dick and Ruth Foth after they had Thanksgiving dinner at the Foth home. Foth became a mentor, friend and kindred spirit for Batterson.

Foth and Batterson team up to challenge us toward adventure. A Trip Around The Sun shares Foth and Batterson’s stories of how they each chose a lifestyle of adventure. In each of the twenty chapters, Foth and Batterson relate parts of their life journey. They tell stories of risk, adventure, learning, prioritizing relationships, investing in family, and trusting God. They aim at inspiring their readers to do the same.

Each chapter closes with a succesories-style-slogan summing up a little life lesson. Things like: “Choose Adventure” “When You Follow Jesus, All Bets Are Off” “Catch People Doing Things Right” “Never Lose a Holy Curiosity” “Don’t Sacrifice Your Family on the Altar of Success” “No One Can Worship God Like You or For You”

Both Batterson and Foth are good communicators (or Susanna Foth Aughtmon is, who helped them write this). I underlined things I found personally inspiring. Their challenge towards risk-taking and adventure is something I need to hear. I don’t want my life, vocation,or faith to just happen to me. I want to press into life, grab all that God has for me, participate in his mission of redemption for my community and world. I want to love well and live well. To the extent that I feel pulled in that direction by Batterson and Foth, this is a good book.

But I can’t say that I connected well with what I was reading. Foth talks about being raised as a third-culture kid (before the term existed), of meeting famous people, and his lifestyle of trying to live faithfully. Batterson tells of church planting, taking his kid to a super bowl game, reading two hundred books a year and kissing his wife on the eiffel tower. These accumulated experiences are fun, significant, important, but Foth and Batterson never connect the dots for me in a way I found particularly helpful. They offer slogans instead of a compelling vision.

But I did appreciate their relationship and the way their friendship finds their way into each others’ stories. Batterson sees Foth as a godly mentor for him, which I am certain he is and has been. In the acknowledgments, Batterson admits that his primary goal for this book was ‘to capture Dick’s stories for posterity’ (201). Dick sings Batterson’s praise throughout these pages. I like the way they model a godly mentoring relationship.

I give this book three stars. I appreciate their overall message, even if aspects left me feeling flat. Still, I choose adventure. . .

Notice of material connection. I received in exchange for my honest review.

This trip around the Sun, I will choose Adventure by praying risky prayers.

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