Book Review: A Bigger Table:Building Messy, Authentic and Hopeful Spiritual Community by John Pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz’s book is a longer version of some of his blogs. I came to his work via the book and I’m glad I did. The book has a wider vision of his bigger table; the blogs (lately?) seem sharply focussed on challenging American evangelists.

Part spiritual memoir and part call to action, Pavlovitz’s intention is to extend an alternative vision of spiritual community.  While his lens is “the Right,” I suspect many readers will be, like me, in essential agreement with the four legs of his bigger table:

  1. Radical hospitality,
  2. Total authenticity,
  3. True diversity,
  4. Agenda-free relationships.

Though we hold these values we are often far from experiencing the bigger table Pavlovitz describes. Affirming beliefs remain statements if there isn’t a longing for such as this:

“Now more than ever, people need a Christianity that is not prepackaged, market tested, or franchise ready. They need something raw and real and dangerous, even to the Church institution itself; something that dares to veer from the safe and secure in order to be covered in the dust of Jesus.”

Pavlovitz is honest about the costs of his journey to a bigger table. He is clear that conflict paves the path. This make his vision a challenging invitation, and it calls us way out beyond the walls of “Church.”

I did wonder, sometimes, how particular his vision is, and what role gender plays in building the bigger table as he patterns it. In the end I decided that the book needs to be approached as more than a “how-to” of steps in building a bigger table. Instead, dare to allow it to spark that deep spiritual inner longing to pull up a chair at God’s bigger, though not always comfortable, table and risk where the call leads in being a table setter.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. #ABiggerTable