Now Featured at the Patheos Book Club
The Briarpatch Gospel
Fearlessly Following Jesus Into The Thorny Places
By Shayne Wheeler
Shayne Wheeler is a pastor who refuses to allow theology to get in the way of ministry. Anyone who knows Shayne knows he exemplifies the subtitle of this excellent book. He has indeed followed Jesus into the thorny places. Before you finish the first chapter, you will be inspired to do the same!
—Andy Stanley, Founder, North Point Ministries
Following Christ can be a messy and challenging journey because we often find ourselves in prickly and confusing places with the most unlikely people. The Briarpatch Gospel provides a window into Shayne Wheeler's piece of the patch, and an invitation to jump on in and join the adventure. This is not about playing it safe or seeing the purpose of life as merely being nice and doing a little good here and there. This is about taking God and God's world seriously—and it's how I want to live.
—Stephen A. Hayner, President, Columbia Theological Seminary
Shayne Wheeler ministers not in the safe (but shrinking) enclaves of the traditional and the conservative, but instead within the progressive, secular, post-Christian culture. This book is the distillation of many encounters Shayne has had with people in his neighborhood. All readers who want to do the same kind of ministry can learn much from overhearing these conversations. And those who do such work will also find encouragement here when they are criticized by both the hostile skeptical and the hostile devout.
—Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City
In The Briarpatch Gospel, Shayne Wheeler takes us on a journey underneath the superficiality present in much of American Christianity. It's a raw and honest invitation to face the dark, uncertain, and thorny places of our lives, along with a promise that Jesus is already there—waiting for us.
—Danny Wuerffel, Heisman Trophy winner and executive director of Desire Street Ministries
Shayne Wheeler's narrative of how his church learned to follow Christ into areas of fear and challenge—"the briarpatch"—is just what the doctor ordered. I was personally challenged to new depths of honesty and faithfulness in ways I did not expect. Bravo for a book that deeply connects a theology of missional identity, and our unique Christ-centered calling, with the rise of the post-Christendom generation.
—John H. Armstrong, President, ACT 3, and author of Your Church Is Too Small
As the messy edges of morality fray and the ever-stretching boundaries of our Christian consciousness expand, there is an urgent need for clarity in conviction and theological dialogue around today's most pressing concerns. Honest, pastoral, confessional, and prophetic, Shayne Wheeler courageously brings his readers into these murky waters. The Briarpatch Gospel is fresh and timely, an important contribution to the emerging conversations of our Christian identity and what compels us to engage today's greatest human needs.
—Christopher L. Heuertz, author of Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community
Shayne Wheeler writes like he preaches—earthy and edgy—just enough to make the religious people nervous and the irreligious interested. This dispatch from the briarpatch is a provocative book for both, a page-turning debut filled with wisdom and encouragement.
—Scot Sherman, President, Newbigin House of Studies
This unusual book has thrilled me afresh with the sheer magnitude of what God has done in Christ. (And I've been around a long time.) Shayne Wheeler is a unique author, and in this work he's remarkably effective in describing the realities of this "briarpatch" into which Christ and the gospel come: the human brokenness, the doubts, the grotesque caricatures of the gospel, the judgmentalism, the idolatries of money and sex, along with the sterile spirituality of ossified churchgoers. Shayne is a rare combination of one with a profound understanding of the New Testament message, irrepressible storytelling, and a mischievous sense of humor; but in all he exalts the grace and love of God. He is an artist with words, with a wealth of literary resources. But what gives this work depth is that he has suffered, and so runs deep. Read this book and be transformed.
—Robert Thornton Henderson, author of The Church and the Relentless Darkness