Serve (Book Review)
Service in the church is central to the Christian life. In this book, Steve Robinson helps believers – new and old – seek to serve in a way that is sustainable and focused on the gospel.
In a culture that feels increasingly self-indulgent and self-focused, Serve is a timely counter-weight for Christians of all ages and stages.
Simple and clear, with lots of good illustrations, this is a book that would be a great discipleship tool for newer Christians, but also a good refresher for any Christians in danger of becoming a bit weary in well-doing.
The book’s six chapters take the reader through the key underlying principles and practicalities of Christian service, starting with the gospel.
“…you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9)
To become a Christian is to become someone who serves: while - as Steve rightly notes - being a servant isn’t the totality of Christian identity, it is central and foundational.
The question of why we serve is, of course, critical and Steve reminds us that even love for other people (on its own) “isn’t enough”. We need a greater why – one that transcends the fickleness of both ourselves and those we serve.
Serve looks at the keys to sustainable service and the corresponding danger of unfaithful service.
The perennial question of “what are my gifts?” is simply but helpfully addressed, along with the need to avoid wishing we were “someone different” or defining ourselves on the basis of our human abilities.
For those who feel inadequate, there is good news: God uses the very things we regard as weaknesses. Similarly, the book helpfully acknowledges that the service-capacity (eg. time or energy) of individual Christians will vary and may be different at different times in our lives.
For Christians who are walking the servant pathway, Steve gives encouragement to press-on and gives some wise counsel about avoiding ‘itchy-feet’ - always looking for new things to do or new places to move on to.
Rather, we’re encouraged to see the deep value of faithful service in the local church over the long-haul.
Each chapter finishes with a few questions for self-reflection – and at the end of the book there are discussion questions for groups reading the book together.
Engaging and helpful
Serve is an easy read in the best sense: it’s crisp, engaging, and full of helpful illustrations (those who know Steve won’t be surprised that he’s a Liverpool FC fan, but Downton Abbey - who knew?).
Throughout it all, Steve’s life experience and pastoral heart comes through as he humbly shares his own learning experiences in this area.
As someone who’s been in Christian service for many years, this was a book I found personally refreshing, and one that I’d definitely recommend for use in one-to-ones and small group settings.
You can order a copy of Serve: Loving Your Church with Your Heart, Time and Gifts from The Good Book Company for £8.49 (RRP £9.99).