The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends
You were not meant to walk alone.
Many of us struggle to forge deep relationships with God and other people. Modern society has isolated us as rugged individuals, deceiving us into thinking we can make it through life on our own. Individualism has likewise shaped the pattern of Christian discipleship, privatizing faith and separating us from fellow believers.
But we come to know God best when others help us on the way. And our friendships develop best when we seek after God together. What would it look like to pursue God not by ourselves but in the company of friends?
According to the model of the New Testament, spiritual transformation takes place in the context of Christian community. By unpacking the Gospel narratives of Jesus' ministry with his disciples, Richard Lamb demonstrates how discipleship develops within the shared community life of groups of Christians. He explores a range of topics--such as spiritual friendship, hospitality, leadership, service, conflict, forgiveness and mission--in light of Christian community. Engaging stories from real-life experience show how people can form one another spiritually when their lives are tumbled against one another.
If you long for more of God, deeper friendships or both, this book will help you on the journey. Discover the transforming power of discipleship in community. Join the pursuit of God in the company of friends.
"Rich Lamb's The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends tells of the vital place spiritual friendships have played for him in knowing God. Deeply personal, very helpful. I have seen many books on friendship, and many on knowing God, but few that put them together so well."
"It's so easy to talk about authentic community, so easy to theorize and dream about it, but making it real calls out our souls. Rich Lamb confesses that he's not a natural 'people person,' so he's had to learn the skills and joys of Christian community day by day, step by step, just as most of us must do. That's why his counsel is street-level, apt and wise. This book will help you make it real."
"Community has become both a cliche and a mirage in Christian circles. We toss the word around without much understanding; meanwhile, for many of us it's elusive and unobtainable. The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends puts flesh on bones, paint on canvas. Rich Lamb gives us plenty of biblical constructs of what Christian community should involve and entail, then injects them with true, personal stories. I was helped by both his stories of life in community and his own personal relationships. Some of Rich's stories stretch our boundaries while others affirm the good things we are already doing. 'Yet deeper, yet broader' was the quiet encouragement I felt as I read. Genuine community and friendships take work; The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends told me they're worth it."
"The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends offers a very practical read for those who want to see the gospel of Christ transform their relationships and their lives. A great resource for small group discussion."
"For those with ears to hear, Richard Lamb offers an apprenticeship-in-print in what he calls 'a quest for the ultimate in the midst of the intimate.' Born out of years of ministry in the university and the church, the vision he sets forth is formed by the stories of Jesus and embodied in his own practices in the push and pull of life. The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends is for all who long for the reality of God and of community, and who are willing to wonder why one so profoundly shapes the other."
"Like Tolkien's fellowship taking the ring to Mordor, one senses here nothing short of meaningful adventure, of joy in the journey, of the kind of life Jesus made possible for those who love him and who love life."
"As a pastor who has begun 'deprogramming' the church in order to build deeper neighborhood-centered communities of faith, I am thrilled to find Lamb's timely and on-target book. Readers will appreciate not only his thoroughness but also his personal commitment to pursuing God through the company of friends."
"It is a happy fusion when an author writes on a topic because it is biblically important, applies it in a creative, fresh way without distorting or trivializing Scripture and does so just at the time when contemporary society needs and values the subject. Rich Lamb does just this when he writes on friendship and community. He is insightful, incisive, honest and engaging. He is present in his own story, neither as hero nor as villain, and certainly not as fool, but as an experienced friend."
"Weaving together powerful biblical insight, personal stories and the context of contemporary culture, Rich Lamb demonstrates the power of community under the leadership of Jesus. Captivating the reader with the richness of Jesus and his concentric circles of friends, he inspires us all to create authentic relationships as Jesus models friendship, and in so doing, to know the heart and will of God. This book is a must-read for those who wish to experience the richness of the vertical relationship with God through the real-life horizontal friendships he has given us."
"Guided by biblical principles and informed by his own ministry experiences, Rich Lamb has produced a wonderful work that challenges the reader to see discipleship as a communal endeavor. This is an excellent resource for those who serve today's emerging generation that expresses a deep yearning for spiritual formation as well as authentic community."
"It is hard to imagine any topic more central to the heart of Christian faith and life than 'pursuing God in the company of friends.' Rich Lamb's message is deeply rooted in the gospel and nicely illustrated by real-life stories. Here is a gifted writer and insightful teacher serving up a powerful, attractive alternative to the dominant cultural ethos of 'pursuing self-interest by using others.' "
"This is a short dynamic cutting-edge book that will change lives and further God's kingdom. As I look back over forty-eight years of kingdom ministry, I realize more than ever the priority and importance of friendship. I have made mistakes and only wish I could have read this great book after I first walked the aisle at that Billy Graham meeting. As you walk this road, your heart will be broken many times, but it's worth it!"
"Rich's book powerfully touches on our shared longing to encounter God together in community. By weaving together the biblical story, his own personal story and practical wisdom, Rich charts a trustworthy path to the kinds of relationships and relating patterns that open us to life-changing experiences with God in the company of others."
"Richard's visionary and practical words mark the path to experiencing the intimacy we long for with God and others. This book has forever influenced the way I view my pursuit of God and my relationships with friends. I highly recommend it to you!"
"Friendship is one of the greatest glories and joys of life. Lamb addresses it helpfully, and his book is sure to speak to the yearnings of many."
"Rich Lamb has given us not only a compelling invitation to deeper and more enduring friendships but also a sumptuous feast of biblical insights, uncommon wisdom, winsome illustrations and practical skills. "We throw around words like grace, forgiveness, love, service and commitment, but no where do we learn their deeper meaning better than in the company of true friends. This book charts a path to build those friendships and discover new life."
"The emerging generation longs for true community yet struggles to know how to get there. Rich Lamb speaks to this longing by giving us biblical and personal pictures, stories, and practical ideas for making spiritual friendships and authentic community a reality. Caution: Not for the faint of heart!"
"Four things stand out for me in this book. One, Rich has terrific insights into the various Scriptures, which form the basis for findings in each chapter. Two, Rich has real-life illustrations liberally sprinkled throughout his flow of input. He is very observant in life and has experienced the things he writes about. Three, Rich has a passion about interdependence in the body. He also uses tables and diagrams to help break up narrative and summarize findings. And finally, the book is very browsable. Any chapter can be read with profit apart from reading the whole of the book. My favorite chapter was chapter ten, 'Reconciliation and Forgiveness Among Friends.' The insights into Abigail were outstanding. It is clear that Rich is modeling for us throughout the whole book. He is himself one who is in the 'pursuit of God in the company of friends.' "
"Through the centuries some very illuminating books on friendship have been written. Add to that list the unique treatment of that subject by Richard Lamb, The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends. Addressed primarily to a young adult readership, it gives concrete, helpful counsel to all of us no matter where we are on the timeline. It will enrich our lives by deepening and enlarging those relationships with the fellow pilgrims we call friends."
"Rich's clear work has rekindled my desire for a deepening company of friends in my own life. His honest stories and sharp, lively treatment of Scripture embolden me to take real steps in that direction. And I find myself hoping my friends read this book soon!"
"Individualism reigns supreme in our culture and has thoroughly permeated our Christian subculture; Richard Lamb?s book offers a much-needed corrective. In The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends, Lamb not only offers us his personal experience, he also looks deeply at the Gospels for evidence of friendship. Especially helpful are the many practical suggestions for building friendships, such as listening, asking good questions, avoiding competition and finding reconciliation. I could imagine Lamb's book transforming the relationships (and therefore the lives) of a group on campus or a church."
" A ringing call to spiritual growth through mutual accountability in Christian community. Just the kind of help we need to overcome the ghastly individualism in American Christianity."
"Everybody complains about American individualism, but nobody does anything about it. Rich Lamb is the rare writer who actually sketches a practical map of the path from solitary Christianity to the place where we meet God in the company of others."
"This is a most thoughtful book, speaking into what I believe is the 'hottest' topic in the church of the twenty-first century: community--how we make this spiritual journey together. Lamb's thinking is not pie-in-the-sky. He's made community happen. Thus he writes as an expert."
"The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends is one of those books that comes at just the right time. It is clear that as our culture moves increasingly into a postmodern mindset the whole question of Christianity as a community looms ever larger. But what does it mean to be a community and how do we foster community? How do we grow as people via Christian community? These are important questions since, if the truth be known, we have not been very good at the fellowship side of Christianity.
Richard Lamb tackles this important subject with rare insight based on a wealth of personal experience. His book combines biblical insights, classical sources, practical suggestions (complete with helpful charts) and most importantly, numerous stories that bring alive these concepts for us. The book is all the more impressive because it is written by a self-confessed introvert for whom friendship has not come easily or naturally. Out of Lamb's struggles come insights that have the mark of authenticity to them. We need to pay attention to the themes of this important book as we seek to reach out to the world around us even as we work at growing our own communities."
"Richard Lamb eloquently argues the crucial point that being friends and being intentional partners in the expansion of Jesus' kingdom are not only not at odds, they're inseparable. May many thousands of people freshly experience that most fulfilling kind of friendship as a result of this book."
Introduction: The Transforming Power of Discipleship in Community
1. Friends in the Pursuit of God
2. The Hospitality of God
3. The Healing Touch of God
4. Life, Death and Love Among Friends
5. Presence and Intimacy in the Company of Friends
6. On the Road in the Company of Friends
7. Friends Serve, Lead, See and Speak
8. Listening and Gentle Influence
9. Competition and Comparison Among Friends
10. Reconciliation and Forgiveness Among Friends
11. Jesus' Vision for the Company of Friends
12. Three-Dimensional Community
13. The Mission of God in the Company of Friends
14. The Eternal Company of Friends