The Other Half of Church (Book Review)

I am fascinated by all things related to the brain and learning. I also love theology. So when I had a chance to review The Other Half of Church: Christian Community, Brain Science, and Overcoming Spiritual Stagnation by Jim Wilder and Michel Hendricks from Moody Publishing, I jumped at the chance. This was a combination that I did not know existed. You do not have to be someone who geeks out over the brain to get something out of this book. Being around the church world for many years, specifically in leadership roles, I have been deeply disappointed at the lack of maturity and growth even after years of discipleship. There seems to be a disconnect between what people are learning and what people are living. This book addresses that disconnect and then offers practical ways to strengthen and grow that connection.

When we neglect right-brain development in our discipleship, we ignore the side of the brain that specializes in character formation. Left-brained discipleship emphasizes beliefs, doctrine, willpower, and strategies but neglects right-brain loving attachments, joy, emotional development, and identity. Ignoring right-brain relational development creates Christians who believe in God’s love but have difficulty experiencing it in daily life, especially during distress.

Wilder and Hendricks

Joy, attachment, and gratitude are the soil to grow a deeply connected and mature community that loves and impacts their community including their enemies. Hendricks and Wilder share how we spend so much time with knowledge and forget that the way to connect to that knowledge is through the right hemisphere of the brain. There needs to be relational connection to help the knowledge find a home and application. I found much of the truth in this book to also be very applicable in the sphere of education. I was thinking of the teachers who impact their students most are relational. Students tend to love their subject, relationships and group identity are strong in those classes.

There is so much that I will be coming back to and working on practicing in my own life and revisiting to figure out how it applies to the community I am in. It helped me to name what I could sense was missing. It has given me much to think about, evaluate, and practice in my own life and will be seeking ways to implement some of what I learned in the community I am part of.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a deeper connection to God and their community. This is a book deeply rooted in Scripture and very accessible brain science. Each chapter ends with group questions that lead the group to Scripture and then simple activities to try out. Every chapter has more resources if desired and the appendices have checklists and resources that are valuable and so user friendly.

**Disclaimer: I was given a copy to review for Moody Publishers.

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