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Andy Crouch: Strong and Weak

Andy Crouch, Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing (IVP, 2016), 192 pages, ISBN 9780830844432.

If life is meant to be about flourishing and leading others towards the same outcome, one might naturally ask how it can be attained? This is the question that Andy Crouch wrestles with in his third published book, Strong and Weak. As he introduces the idea of strength and weakness, Crouch makes the point that it does not have to be one or the other. Rather, true flourishing is found at the healthy intersection of both components. It is this idea that he argues for and supports throughout the remainder of the book.

Crouch begins by identifying his terms and clarifying what he means and perhaps most importantly, what he does not mean by flourishing. When he refers to strength, what he is referencing is authority. Similarly, when he writes about weakness, Crouch actually means vulnerability, which he defines as meaningful risk. With these variables in place, Crouch introduces a 2X2 diagram, unpacking each quadrant and the leaders and leadership styles that inhabit each of them.

The quadrants associated with varying degrees of authority and vulnerability are identified as such; exploiting, withdrawing, suffering and flourishing. Crouch details noticeable patterns that often cause one to reside in each of the above named methods of influence—stating clearly the dangers and benefits that exist. Despite modern society’s negative association with suffering, Crouch makes the point that it is only from this quadrant, which one can be propelled back to flourishing.

This book is an excellent work with several comprehensively considered insights. Crouch communicates a simple idea with remarkable ease and outstanding application. As he did in Culture Making and Playing God, Crouch once again inspires his readers to think and act responsibly with what God has entrusted to humanity.

Reviewed by John Ames


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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2016

About the Author: John M. Ames has his Masters in Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is the church planting founder and Lead Pastor of West End Community Church in Providence, Rhode Island. John founded and directed a non-profit called Real Steps that served youth and families from affordable housing communities in the city of Waltham, Massachusetts. John previously worked in Boston as part of Operation Homefront, managing a partnership between city clergy and the police. During that time, John also worked alongside the Emmanuel Gospel Center as part of the Greater Boston Church Planting Collaborative, serving under Rev. Ralph Kee. John is the son of missionaries and grew up in Cote D’Ivoire. He is married to Jenny, they have a two and a half year old son named Micah. Facebook

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