A review of the book 'Go Outside' by Jared and Becky Wilson

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A review of the book 'Go Outside' by Jared and Becky Wilson
Judith McKeown reviews the book Go Outside

I loved this book. I wish I had read it ten years ago, and even though it is aimed at those in their twenties, the practical and biblical advice given by two people who have much life experience will be of benefit to anyone, no matter their age. The book consists of a series of 20 Christian-life principles, written in an easy-to-read style, with plenty of good humour! It is a must-read for anyone who works in youth or student ministry; the material is ideal for those who are involved in mentoring.

The topics covered include: developing healthy spiritual habits, the use of money, the importance of spending time outdoors and looking after our bodies, the value of finding good friends, the importance of our Christian character rather than our ‘achievements’, with particular emphasis on keeping the gospel central to all we are and do because this ‘empowers us to live lives that serve others best and glorify God the most’. Here are some of my highlights:

The first chapter, entitled ‘Don’t wait until you “have time” to develop healthy habits’, challenged me because I have been thinking recently about the number of distractions (mainly connected to our phones and social media) we have in our lives, which can stop us from developing spiritual disciplines in prayer and Bible reading. I noted that a quarter of the book (five chapters) focuses on spending time with God. The authors state that ‘spiritual disciplines are kind of like old friends. The more we invest in them, the more joy and transformative value they will have...’ I appreciated the reference to the theme of commitment and the fact that anything worthwhile will take time to grow because Gen Z (the desired audience for the book) live in a world of instant results and often struggle to commit. The authors encourage commitment to service in a local church and recommend putting stylistic preferences and age-demographic to one side. This chapter, however, is balanced with chapter 16, ‘Learn to be friends with Jesus’, where the authors emphasise that we must ‘never confuse doing things for God with actually being known by God’. The Lord Jesus is a person we can know and have a relationship with, not simply an idea. They also speak very honestly about using youthful energy for things that matter, rather than chasing dreams that ultimately won’t last. They put an emphasis on looking after our bodies and getting enough rest and physical exercise. I enjoyed the chapter ‘Go outside’, where the authors encourage us to spend time in God’s creation.

The chapter on ‘Finding a mentor’ was particularly helpful, because mentoring often sounds great in an ideal world but unless two people are clear on their expectations, it sometimes doesn’t work. Here the authors give very practical ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for mentoring, and they stress that you can be a mentor and mentee in every stage of life; they recommend that we ‘look for those who might be beginning life experiences similar to those you have recently completed’ and walk with them through that. Often when we are younger, we think we ‘know it all’ and the authors are not afraid to address this point. They remind the reader that there is always more to learn in this world and to ask questions and learn from others; these are important issues of Christian character.

The chapter on showing hospitality was challenging because the authors highlight that ‘hospitality – in its truest, most meaningful form – is a condition of the heart’. It struck me that there is great responsibility with this because I must have a love for others, which flows from my love for God, but also great freedom; hospitality can look different for each person and it doesn’t mean having a big house and spending lots of money! I work with international students, and I know that spending time with people over food can lead to many great conversations, but the author’s emphasis on the hospitable heart really hit home to me; sending a note or giving a card inviting someone for a coffee is just as hospitable as preparing a meal.

As I read this book I found myself thinking, ‘I wish I had thought about that before; I wish I had had more teaching on this issue,’ and other times I thought, ’Yes, I agree, I do that,’ and realised that often we live our Christians lives with habits that may be beneficial to others, but because they seem obvious to us, we don’t think to share them. These habits, however, may help others in their walk with the Lord, and we can end up joyfully sharpening each other as we do life together (Proverbs 27:17). 

Together Magazine

Together is the Christian resources magazine for the UK, with stories of what God is doing across the church today, book reviews and publishing industry news. Subscribe now at www.togethermagazine.org.

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