“Dallas and the Spitfire” reminds us that discipleship is messy.

*This post is part of the Patheos Bookclub review for “Dallas and the Spitfire”

*** Leave a comment on this post, with adequate contact information and I might pick you to get a free copy of the book!

I sit on my couch and ponder my youth ministry days. Discipleship, in a student ministry setting, increasingly reminds us that relationships matter most. I can think of many relationships as a mentor with fond memories. The same relationships also brought about chaos, emotional strife, and disappointment. But through it all, somehow God showed up in the mess.

Today I read a book by Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke called “Dallas and the Spitfire – An old car, an ex-con, and an unlikely friendship.” It begins at a typical coffee shop scene.  30-year-old meets up with a young twenty-something. As they sip their lattes they both increasingly become aware that the coffee shop setting is not the right place for these kinds of rustic dudes. They’re both “manly men.” Their personalities mash almost instantly as they leave the coffee shop behind and head into real life.

Dallas comes from a background that began with the abuse of alcoholism as an 8-year-old in his 1st sexual experience as a 10-year-old. Nothing about his life was quote typical” for most people in conservative evangelical churches. By the time he was a teenager he was kicked out of his house. Addicted to drugs. Beating people, committing crimes, and using women. All of this to maintain his habit and to survive in a system that had neglected him.

Ted, on the other hand, knows nothing of that world. He is an author and what many would consider a quote normal” middle-class white family man. Yet, after Dallas finds himself out of jail and back into the church, these 2 stories collide into something messy yet beautiful.

What I like about this book is it is raw. It challenges our assumptions about what it means to make disciples in the church. Through the narrative of many highs and lows we find that God is shaping the character of both the mentor and mentee simultaneously.

There are many unifying themes throughout the book, one of which is Ted’s purchase of a car (this spitfire). This becomes a common project for these 2 guys to work on. The car is paradigmatic of the journey of discipleship that requires maintenance and care along the way.

I really enjoyed this book. No, I wouldn’t put it on my top 10 books every Christian needs to read. But I would put it in the hands of someone who wants to be inspired to engage in the messiness of discipling another person. I also would recommend it for anyone who has a family member coming out of a difficult background like Dallas. This is a book that reminds us hope remains.

One part of the book that doesn’t necessarily resonate with me as a whole, is that it clearly comes from the perspective of a person in the “young, restless, and reformed” movement. I am not a Calvinist and so some of the theological content (which isn’t much) failed to resonate with my own theological experience. However, that did not make the book less valuable. I want to be the kind of Christian who can read books from all sides of the spectrum, appreciating the beautiful diversity that is the body of Christ.

When I got to the end of the book I was expecting a climatic ending. Rather, without giving anything away, the book is open-ended. As I sat with this, after closing the book, I came to realize that a book on discipleship ought to end this way! Discipleship is a journey, one that will not end until the day that we die. Therefore how better to end the book then to simply make light of the fact that the story goes on.

So, I wholeheartedly think that this is a book worth reading. It is a book that tells of redemption. It reminds us of the largeness of God’s grace, no matter our personal upbringing and background.

  • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill

    The premise of this book sounds very similar to “Same Kind of Different As Me” by Denver Moore and Ron Hall. I look forward to reading this someday. If you feel you want to giveaway a free book to me, I recommend a Kindle version since I live as a missionary in Albania and it’s quite costly to ship. ;-)

  • barwal

    Pick me, pick me!  You should have my email address with this comment, which I’m assuming is adequate contact information.  Thanks!

  • Aaron Seaney

    I will read it. Like actually read it. Aaron.seaney@yahoo.com or you can message me on facebook because i follow you there too.

  • Janelle Espo

    My brother is getting out of prison this year and I can definitely relate to this premise, relating to my brother from the typical churched girl perspective. My email is janelle.espo@gmail.com.


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