Those who have spent any time in “organized” Christianity in the West have experienced what Jonathan brings to light: there is a weird and uncomfortable mixing of the teaching of Jesus and the religion people make up about Jesus. Jonathan puts his finger on the most lethal part of that concoction: hierarchy, the rule of the priests/pastors. Jonathan engages in a close reading of Scripture as well as a thoughtful reflection on his experience and role models to refocus us on the centrality of Jesus as our boss and owner. He moreover brings attention to the importance of our loving (and not controlling) relationships with one another as brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
There is a lot to take in here, but I am left with three urges after reading Jonathan’s soulful writing: (1) To remember I am your servant, but you are not my master. Jesus is. (2) To keep finding the Spirit’s liberation as we know the truth from a close reading of scripture. (3) To keep going in obedience to Christ, regardless of the approval of people in positions and organizations. I commend this heartfelt reflection of a devoted follower of Jesus to you.
BRIAN DODD—Orlando, Florida. Pastor, 25 years;
Ph. D., University of Sheffield, England, New Testament Studies;
Former Professor: Fuller Theological Seminary,
Asbury Theological Seminary;
Author: Praying Jesus, Where Christology Began, The Problem with Paul, Paul’s Paradigmatic ‘I’: Personal Example as Literary Strategy,
Empowered Church Leadership: Ministry in the Spirit According to Paul.
I commend Jonathan for writing a book which systematically dismantles one of the greatest misconceptions in the church today—ecclesiastical authority. The material found within the pages of this motif not only challenges the mindsets of religious traditions of men, but also lays a biblical foundation for true authentic leadership, using Jesus Christ as our model and personal example for leading/serving others.
At a time when progressive truth is breaking forth in many different aspects of the gospel of the kingdom, such as abundant grace, divine healing, and the fullness of who Christ is in every believer, it’s no surprise that the Holy Spirit has spoken so clearly through Jonathan in an effort to declare truth in love to the body of Christ concerning godly authority. It’s my honor and privilege to endorse this work of progressive truth. I trust, like a clarion sound, it’ll provoke change in the hearts of leaders as deep calls out to deep, challenging leaders to change through revealing the simple truths of the gospel.
PAUL GRAVES—Founder, Bible to Life Ministry,
Durban South Africa
Author, “Every Believer’s Authority”
I Am Persuaded is a practical, biblical and needed fresh look at ruling, serving, obeying and leadership in the body of Christ. As Christians living in a kingdom that is not of this world, the present hierarchical mindset from the world’s system does not fit. The current hierarchical model of leadership will only serve to work against unity and the new covenant expression of the kingdom that is from above. Jonathan has done a great job of giving us a fresh perspective of greatness and serving that looks like what Jesus himself described and modeled. This is a great resource to help correct the mindset of modern Christianity, so as to function in unity and honor, and to live as a body with One Head.
Abounding Grace Ministries International Church, South Korea.
Jonathan Brenneman in his I Am Persuaded provokes, jabs and challenges our sacred cows of church leadership. Yet, the jabs are not hurtful because they come from Scripture. This is not a reactionary book filled with leader bashing but a graceful and excellent presentation of mostly forgotten principles concerning how Jesus and the early church taught and practiced leadership.
All the key and at times controversial words are discussed: rule, obey, submission, apostles, authority, and spiritual covering. Excellent exegesis on these words is provided and is foundational to the author’s conclusions. If you find yourself disagreeing, then, by all means, do a better exegesis. I think that will be difficult. Jonathan Brenneman has personally made a paradigm shift in his life and shares it with us. Will you?
I Am Persuaded is more than a fine Bible study, it is filled with real life stories which illustrate servant leadership. It is well written, fast paced, and provokes fresh thinking. I believe the reader and the church will be healthier when these principles are put into practice. Will you be persuaded? Will you undergo a paradigm shift? Read and find out. This is a good book and its message needs to be heard.
STAN NEWTON—Missionary in Bulgaria;
Author: Glorious Kingdom
The issue of authority and submission in the church is like Goldilock’s porridge: it’s hard to get it just right. There are leaders who treat people like consumable commodities for their drive, ambition and self-perceived Old Covenant Mosaic style of leadership “vision.” There are also people who abuse leaders thinking it is their holy mandate to keep them shamefully poor, discouraged, and depressed. It’s as if they believe their recalcitrance is ordained by God to keep their leaders “humble.” Both are nonsense. Both are abuse. Both are reactionary. Both are unacceptable.
It can be difficult to find a healthy middle road of new covenant mutuality and service in other-ness on this topic. Jonathan Brenneman has made a fine contribution toward this end with this work. Jonathan has discovered, as so many have, that many of the words translated with a hierarchal bias in the English scriptures, are simply not so in the original Greek. Rather, many English translations represent the worldview and bias of the translators. This is especially so of 16th and 17th century translations from monarchial cultures that believed in the divine right of kings and absolute submission to them as equivalent to what should occur in the ekklesia. That is simply bias, not “truth.” It does not belong in Christ’s kingdom.
Without getting too bogged down in the technical details of language that might lose some readers, Jonathan provides just enough to make his case and to persuade readers to reconsider many things they may have been taught about authority and submission. It gladdens my heart to know younger generation believers are discovering, in their twenties and thirties, what did not come to me until my fifties. This is generational progress worth celebrating! These younger generation believers will be neither snared nor distracted by the ridiculous and biblically unjustifiable leadership doctrines that are so prevalent today, especially in many independent and non-denominational churches. They will not have to deconstruct the influence of decades of various forms of “leadership” doctrinal rubbish, but rather can be free to give themselves to the King and his kingdom.
Jonathan shares some great observations on leadership in I am Persuaded. If you’re looking for fresh insights on church dynamics, this book provides sound ideas for you to consider.
Author “Divine Healing Made Simple: Simplifying the supernatural to make healing and miracles a part of your everyday life” and “My Craziest Adventures With God-The Supernatural Journal of a Former Athiest Paramedic”
I am Persuaded is a wonderful read focusing on The Lord’s view of true leadership. It was never his desire that we would model ourselves after the kingdoms of this world. This book inspires the reader to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit, taking on a servant’s heart which is the essence of true discipleship and leadership. This book reveals the secret to true success in ministry and provokes us as leaders to focus more on leading by example and less on our “positions” in the church.
Thanks Jonathan. May your writings be blessed by the Lord and inspire his church to be more like him.
STEPHEN P. SERSEN— Associate pastor at Maranatha Chapel, Baltimore, Maryland