I’ve always felt like it’s important that Christians should have their thinking challenged regularly. I don’t think that it’s ever wise for a Christian to get too comfortable with where they are in their faith-walk. The church gets enough criticism for not ‘thinking’, so we don’t need to add fuel to the fire by acting like we know it all.

And if I am honest, I had fallen a little bit into that trap myself. I have served quite a bit in various ministries within my church, and my ‘experience’ almost gave me the right to act like I know what the heck it is that I’m talking about. I would sometimes lay awake at night thinking about ways (using my amazing wisdom) that we could get more people into the church.

Then it happened…

My friends at Zondervan sent me an advance copy of Dave Gibbons’ new book The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church. I have to admit, that the title alone caught my attention, and I knew that I would have to read this book! The core idea for much of the context of the book is an old Eastern Parable that Gibbons shares, and it goes like this…

The Monkey and the FishA typhoon stranded a monkey on an island. In a protected place on the shore, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed to the monkey that the fish was struggling and needed assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.

A tree leaned precariously over the spot where the fish seemed to be struggling. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on a limb, reached down, and snatched the fish from the waters. Scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments, the fish showed excitement but soon settled into a peaceful rest.

— An Old Eastern Parable

Isn’t that exactly what the church does? I know that is exactly the mentality that I had for a long time… I knew that we could ‘heal the world’ if we could only get them through the church’s front doors. In fact it had always bothered me that rush-hour traffic was not something that was experienced on Sunday mornings.

Needless to say, I quickly discovered that this guy Gibbons was really going to challenge my thinking, and I was excited about the possibilities! I had the chance to interview Dave Gibbons earlier this year about the book, and discovered that this dude was the real deal!

As we work through the group blogging project on this book, it is my prayer that these discussions challenge you as much as they have challenged me. May you be pushed to the point where you don’t look at church in the same ways that you did before. May you look at the world around you differently, and see the great opportunities that lay in front of us. An may you not only become the kind of Christian that this book challenges you to be, but also the kind that challenges others to do the same. Amen.



[the monkey and the fish] introduction

by Dan King time to read: 3 min