Tom Smith
Downers Grove: IVP, 2014, 223 pp., $13.89

Tim Smith is the pastor of a church in South Africa called Claypot. When he planted the church, he literally broke a clay pot into many pieces and distributed the pieces to members of the church. As each member contributed his or her piece in reassembling the pot, the metaphor provided the name of their church. Rather than perpetuating the illusion of what he terms the sexy-worship-leader-syndrome, Smith challenges the reader to admit brokenness and offers a raw look at what it will take to establish spiritual rhythms in our lives. Raw Spirituality is a training manual for developing these spiritual rhythms. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions and individual/group exercises. Smith uses seven icons in a circular format to create the structure of the book. Each icon serves as a chapter and identifies one of the necessary rhythms, which include developing a healthy image of God as number one in our lives, plugging in daily, journeying with other people, discovering our piece of the puzzle and gifting others with it, placing ourselves in other people’s shoes, commitment to downward mobility and servitude, and seeing our working lives as essential expression of our with-God life. Although Smith is well read and cites other spiritual discipline giants such as Foster, Nouwen, Willard and Buechner, he also includes Frank Barone and other humorous anecdotes that keep the reader engaged. From removing butt-skin, to the African philosophy of Ubuntu, his diverse cultural experiences between the United States and South Africa provide fascinating perspectives, as well.

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