LEAP for Faith, by Gary Cox (Bryler Publications, 2011)
The Christian life is a journey, which Eugene Peterson has dubbed “a long obedience in the same direction.” Believers need to grow spiritually. We also need to respectfully and responsibly share our faith with family, friends and co-workers. In-their-face agendas build walls, not relationships.
So how do we grow? And how to we encourage those who are spiritually interested but not ready to make a full commitment to a God they’re only beginning to suspect may exist?
Part Bible study, part spiritual workbook and part novel, LEAP for Faith takes a fresh look at these perennial questions.
Canadian author Gary Cox addresses spiritual growth in the form of LEAP: Look and Listen, Explore and Examine, Acknowledge and Accept, Practice and Pray. And as Nick, one of the book’s main characters, says, it’s not a one-time sequence:
“P is both the last and the first step. With prayer you go back to looking and listening for God at work in your life. Seeking to discover what he wants to teach you. It’s a cycle, and each cycle expands your understanding and deepens your relationship with the Lord.” (p. 246)
The book contains 27 short chapters that follow the fictional case study of Troy, a man beginning to wonder about God, and Nick, his Christian friend. Each chapter ends with personal-application discussion questions and with Scripture passages to consider.
For new Christians or those considering the faith, there’s a helpful section at the beginning called “My Bible” that demystifies the process of looking up Scriptural references and offers suggestions on Bible reading and accessible translations.
Older-in-the-faith Christians will find Nick’s gentle model of teaching an encouragement, and the simple but logical LEAP system is easy not only to share but to apply in our personal devotions.
I found it a helpful book, easy to read and to follow. Troy and Nick are fictional examples illustrating how the LEAP process might play out in real life. It would dilute the focus of the book to bring a fully-featured novel into play with subplots, detailed characterization and the traditional conflict and plot arc. Allowing their journey to follow a straight path makes an easier teaching tool.
The only negative I found in the book was the need for more copyediting. My husband and I bought four Bryler Publications books at the same time, and the three we’ve read to date all had editing/formatting errors (one was missing an entire chapter) so I’m thinking this is a publisher issue.
LEAP for Faith can be used in private study or in a six-week group setting. Additional resources and videos for groups and group leaders are available on the LEAP for Faith website. The first two chapters are available for preview here.