Book Review: Essentials (Lee McMunn)

I received a copy of this book from someone at the church I attend and today I’m going to share my thoughts on it.

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At just 48 pages, Essentials: The Heart of the Christian Faith is a very short book, but those 48 pages certainly pack a punch. Author Lee McMunn doesn’t waste a word – though he is quite partial to unnecessary exclamation points…

But in all seriousness, I found this book insightful and thought-provoking. Let’s dive in.

From the blurb:

…In Essentials, Lee McMunn argues that to know the truth we need God to engage us in conversation. Lee looks at what Jesus says about God in the Bible, and explores what is means to have a relationship with Him…

Essentials: The Heart of the Christian Faith

Five Rs and a Q

The main content is divided into five sections: Reveal, Reject, Rescue, Relationship, Response. There is also a final section called “Questions”, where (funnily enough) there are questions for the reader to consider, either in their personal study or within a small group discussion setting.

Each section flows logically into the next, to help guide the reader along the path that leads to Jesus. Using a combination of scripture, modern examples, and reader-friendly language, McMunn introduces the reader to some tough concepts in an accessible way. He also manages to strip everything back to the basics without sacrificing biblical context. In this way, the reader is not subject to information overload, but the Gospel is not distorted in the process.

We are also given the details for the Life Essentials website, which expands on the book with additional resources like videos and a contact form for if you have any questions or comments.

Click on this image to go to the Life Essentials website

Going deeper

It’s an interactive book, where the reader is frequently challenged to consider the concepts raised in relation to their own life and circumstances. I was particularly moved by the illustration of the teacher attempting to save his students from a waterfall (Ch. 3). Though it’s a simple story, it really made me think more deeply about Jesus’s sacrifice for us.

So why didn’t he [save himself]? He had calmed a storm, walked on water and raised the dead… Why did Jesus stay on the cross?

Essentials: The Heart of the Christian Faith (Ch. 3 pg 23)

Throughout the book, there are many illustrations like this; some more effective than others. I felt that some of the language and explanations veered a little close to being condescending. Having said that, I also understand that this book is really intended for those who have had little-to-no prior information or discussion about Jesus and what it means to be a Christian. As such, I understand that the use of very basic language is helpful to communicate this huge subject in just 48 pages.

Conclusion

My Goodreads rating for this book is four stars. I think it is a great little resource for those who are at the beginning of their walk with Christ, but even more so for those who don’t know him at all. I hope that I will have the opportunity to pass on my copy to someone else as part of sharing the Good News.

If you or your church leaders think this book would be a useful evangelism tool, you can go to 10ofthose.com (not sponsored!) where they offer a multi-buy discount for packs of 25.

If you have read this book and have your own views on it, please feel free to leave a comment below. I would also love to hear about any similar resources you would recommend.


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