The major message of John Ortberg’s book, Everybody’s normal till you get to know them (Zondervan, 2003), is that we forget that none of us is normal. We have all been damaged from living in a sinful world so we do not always act with kindness and thoughtfulness. It is not until we get to heaven that we will be ‘normal’. As we grow in our understanding we will more compassion to those around us since in order to relate to us they must also show compassion towards us.

We cannot go through life avoiding those people we consider difficult because we need each other. God has made us for relationship. His intention is for us to connect with others within our church communities and for these connections to be a means of blessing and growth. Ortberg covers all the important issues that make for good community – authenticity; acceptance; empathy; conflict; forgiveness; confrontation and inclusion. Each chapter ends with application questions to think about how we can practically incorporate community into our lives. Ortberg includes stories and humorous anecdotes to his teaching which makes this an easy but thoughtful read. I enjoy Ortberg’s style and find his teaching straightforward.

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