I got Jonathan Storment’s new book “How to Start a Riot” in the mail today and just finished it. Jonathan’s book really struck a chord with me because I remembering hearing in my formative years how we, in Churches of Christ, are the church we find in Acts. After spending quite a bit of time studying the book of Acts over the last 10 years it has been my conclusion that statements like that are more aspirations than they are reality. I have found that same sentiment reflected in comments I have heard from young adults in recent years…they say they hear we are that church, read Acts and dream of the day we could really embody what they embodied and embrace what they embraced.
Jonathan’s book is helpful on several levels. First, Jonathan is a very gifted story teller. He has a knack for seamlessly blending together dozens of stories to rapid fire home his point. I have no idea how he does it but he does it well and it is captivating. I once asked Jonathan for a copy of his sermon notes and what he gave me read like a grocery list of illustrations in rapid succession.
Take the knack for storytelling and the passion for a church that so desperately wants to be the church we find in Acts and blend all of that together with a masterful weaving of scripture from creation to Revelation and you have this book. Jonathan really shows how much of a handle he has on the broader themes of scripture and does a great job of showing how those themes weave their way through the early church as seen particularly in the Gospels and Acts.
If you are studying Acts or want to study Acts or just need a good book that demonstrates how the broader narratives of the Old Testament are interwoven through the Gospels and Acts then this the book for you. That is why I would recommend this book from a theological and biblical perspective. There is another level on which I think this book should be recommended and read and that is on the practical level. How to Start a Riot is an inspiring book and it takes the story we claim to follow and encourages us to do exactly that…not to nail down God or the early church and bind them up in formulas and ritual but to live in step not just with the doctrine of the early church but of the ethos and spirit and mission they embraced as well.