The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets
Deb Richardson-Moore – Monarch Books – 2012 – ISBN: 978-0-85721-229-0
I wish I knew where to start. There’s so much to say about this book and yet at times it can feel overwhelming. It feels this way because I am sure this is how Deb Richardson-Moore (referred to as Pastor Deb) felt during the season of life that gave birth to this book. This book details a journey. A sobering journey traveled down a necessary road for all who claim to follow Jesus.
Let me start with a couple sentence synopsis. This book details some of the history of Triune Mercy Center and let’s us know how Deb Richardson-Moore’s life was turned upside down by becoming its pastor. She also gives us a glimpse of the enlarging of her faith by having to walk though good times and bad. She leads us through her call to do this ministry without engaging in deep theological wrangling on non-important issues. She stays focused on her view of ministry to the stranger and how it has impacted her ministry at Triune Mercy Center.
Strengths of this book:
First, the stories are compelling. Most of us find ourselves caught between accurate theology and the way the world works out in front of us. We get comfortable in our understanding of God being one way. Maybe God is conservative. Maybe a democrat. Maybe an amazing worship music session or the best sermon ever heard. Too often God wants us to be his hands and feet. Yet, we choose not to be. Pastor Deb’s choice to serve God contradicts traditional wisdom and proves bold choices impact more lives in more ways than we can imagine.
Second, the humility shown by Pastor Deb in her writing of this book serves to draw the reader into a close relationship. As a first time pastor two years into a church plant, I identified with emotions she expresses. I also know the heartache created when people don’t stick around or choose not to grow in their walk with God. Deb has an amazing way of bring people into the middle of the story and not boring them with it. Too often these kinds of books plod along to a point of no resolution. Deb’s resolves in the fact we must be involved in God’s work so let’s get to it and do it well.
I only have one weakness to list. I think it exists in all books whose mission is to tell grand sweeping stories. I felt there were several rabbit trails we begin following only to be cutoff and not followed later on. You just begin to get invested in someone’s story and then there is no resolution of the rabbit trail. This statement probably says more about human nature than it does Deb’s writing style. We don’t often know the outcome of the story here on earth. We confuse names or parts of stories. One day we will know completely. Just not today.
What this book is and is not:
I want to let you know what this book is not. I think sometimes we expect a book to be all things and it just can’t be so we walk away from it dismayed. This book is not a missive on female pastors. It is not an indictment on denominations. It is not a theology of ministry to the poor. It doesn’t over quote scriptures in an attempt to guilt rich Christians into giving.
This book serves as an honest examination of how to ministry in the poorest of places and not lose who you are in Christ. Deb investigates how to minister to problems, such as drug abuse and homelessness, without enabling the behaviors. She struggles as all pastors do and yet somehow her stories raises the reader up without engaging in despair, hopelessness and helplessness. Deb brings us to the place of hard choice between following Christ and enabling our fellow-man.
I highly recommend you read this book. It took me a couple of days of intense reading to finish. Time well spent.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher Lion Hudson and Kregel Publications through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”