Jesus the Bloke

It’s not often that in a book about Jesus the first chapter starts off with a quote from the famous Australian film The Castle. That was enough to catch my eye and convince me to read further. By the time I had finished I’d found another resource I can use with plenty of my mates.

The injunction of Peter was to ‘always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have’. The style and nature of the answers I give always depends on the audience.

One of the tools I use is to have a range of books I can choose from depending on the person who is open to exploring more about faith. One of my atheist friends regards The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren as one of the best books he has ever read. Some of my friends are bookish, intellectual types and I am comfortable giving them books that are written in that style. Others are more artistic and visual.

Plenty of my friends, as is common amongst many Australian men, simply do not read. It takes a lot for them to read, and if they do, it needs to be something pitched at their level.  Whilst there is plenty of material for the more cerebral types, there always has been a dearth of material pitched at the more working-class end of the spectrum.

This is where the book ‘Jesus The Bloke – the mate every man needs’ comes in. The cover reveals the target audience: a long-haired bearded man with a flannelette shirt. The target audience is described as ‘regular Aussie blokes’:

“Jesus the Bloke shines a light on Jesus in a uniquely Australian way. Regular Aussie blokes will relate to Jason’s stories of growing up in suburban Australia, seeking out adventure wherever possible. Jason shares his own story of faith and the eternal story of Jesus to introduce Aussie blokes to Him in a new way.”

What the profile of the ‘regular Aussie bloke’ is, is somewhat subjective. I’m imagining:

  • Working class.
  • Loves sport.
  • Possibly a tradie.
  • Loves utes.
  • Is glued to Bathurst every October.
  • Wears flannelette shirts.
  • Drinks beer rather than wine.
  • Loves 4WD driving.

Reviews include sports stars such as Michael De Vere (ex NRL), Marnus Labaschagne (current Australian cricketer), Jason Stevens (ex NRL) and Shaun Hart (ex AFL). The choice of cover may pigeon hole the book but the content is aimed at a broad cross section of regular Aussie males. As such it is a niche resource, one that I would use for a good few of my mates who don’t know Jesus.

The ‘bloke’ count is high, be warned. It may come across as a bit ocker to the more cerebral types but to the target audience it would be of no consequence. The theology of ‘Jesus as your mate’ might trouble some, but the language is more an attempt to strike an analogy that ‘blokes’ can relate to rather than a rewriting of Christology. The book needs to be read in the spirit of what and who it was written for.

The teachings of Jesus about the nature of the kingdom through the device of parables would have been regarded as low brow by the religious scholars of the day. Jesus wouldn’t exactly have cut the mustard in an average Baptist church service when it comes to expectations about sermons either. In our urbane middle-class churches, we need something which we regard as having more substance don’t we? A few parables would never do the trick. It needs at least 3 points, plenty of supporting Scripture references and anything under 35 minutes would be a sermonette.

This book is a vision that has been on Jason’s heart for the last 13 years and has now finally seen fruition. Jason is the senior pastor of Gateway Baptist Church, one of the largest Baptist churches in Australia, situated on the south side of Brisbane. This book is an attempt to shine a light on Jesus in a uniquely Australian way. The intent is that men who know Jesus buy the book for men who don’t.

The key strength of the book is that the author has chosen to teach about Jesus through the vehicle of stories. Jason is a good story teller and they are all well-chosen and very readable. Each chapter finishes with a ‘bottom line’, a to-the-point summary of the chapter with challenges thrown out to the reader. The stories also help explain the meaning of Scripture references included in each chapter, in a manner that won’t be off putting to the intended audience.

This isn’t a book so much as a tool, designed to be exchanged in the context of a friendship. It’s a stepping stone and will be helpful in engaging men who wouldn’t normally darken the door of a church or pick up a book about Jesus.

Find out more at https://jesusthebloke.com.au/. Check out a video about the book at https://vimeo.com/288120851 and see more of Jason Elsmore at https://vimeo.com/gatewaybaptist

Review by Stan Fetting, the Operations Manager for Crossover. Stan drives a Hilux, loves footy of all types, cuts his grass with a ride on, has memorised most of The Castle, and follows Jesus. (Worryingly, he doesn’t own a flannelette shirt, doesn’t watch Bathurst and isn’t fussed about fishing).