I’ve heard Charles Lee say that, while Erwin McManus is the face of Mosaic, Eric Bryant is the behind-the-scenes guy who makes it happen there.

In the audiobook version of his book, Peppermint-Filled Pinatas, Eric shares from his life, family and ministry experience with humor and grace.  A quick aside: Eric narrates his own audiobook, which is a nice touch given the number of personal anecdotes and stories he shares.

As the book’s subtitle suggests, through his life’s story, Eric calls us to move beyond merely tolerating others and to genuinely loving others in Christ.  Eric is realistic in acknowledging how messy this can be, but also hopeful in showing both why it is important and that it can be done.  As we engage in the mission of God in the world, we will find that our churches will naturally become more diverse:

Jesus’ eternal cause creates a diverse community. A community on a mission to love and serve its city becomes diverse through the natural connections of relationships.

Whether we like it or not, our world is changing.  As the church, our willingness to engage those who are different from us says everything about our future, “If we aren’t willing to diversify in order to connect to God’s heart, then we should be willing to diversify to show God’s heart to those in our lives who do not yet follow Christ.”

Topics such as reconciliation, community, and church (especially church) are too often dry, academic and/or didactic. That Pinatas is filled with funny stories is a welcomed breath of fresh air (as he mentions in the book, Eric is a stand-up comedian).

In Pinatas, Eric shares stories of what it means to be a witness of Jesus — not by throwing out facts and theologies at strangers, but by loving and investing in the actual people around us.  For example, Eric’s story about his family’s move into their Los Angeles-area neighborhood reflects the biblical notion of being a neighbor (instead of waiting for others to greet his family they brought cookies to their neighbors).

Pinatas challenges us to be the church for the sake of a broken world, to live in and share the generosity and grace we have received from Jesus:

Too often in the church, we fall into the same trap I did. We ask others to exert a tremendous amount of effort, even though the results of these efforts remain less than desirable. We think others are willing to connect with us, even though what we offer is cheap and unsatisfying. We offer peppermints, when the world wants Gobstoppers, Airheads, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. We offer something sweet to believe; they want a new life that helps change the world.