Disclaimer: Mike Turrigiano is one of my favorite people in the Vineyard movement! Luke Geraty (his co-author) is a friend and kinda my boss here at Think Theology. What follows is my attempt to, none-the-less, provide an impartial, unbiased review of Pastor Mike’s new book – I’m No Superman: Holy Spirit Ministry for the Rest of Us.
One of the things I love about Mike Turrigiano is that he is one of the most down to earth guys you’ll ever meet in your life. For starters, this book is an easy read at just over a hundred pages. Mike writes just like he talks, so the work has a very conversational tone (plus he’s a great storyteller). I could literally hear his voice as I was reading through the text. This is not the typical 1000-page heavy duty tome that you would expect to read about on a site called Think Theology. This is more like where Kingdom Theology rubber meets road of real life praxis – “Theology from the Trenches” if you will.
I was literally hooked from the very start with this Dedication:
To all those many followers of Jesus who dream of being used by God toI’m No Superman (Dedication)
help advance his kingdom but disqualify themselves because they consider themselves too unqualified and ordinary. This book is for you…
That’s me. I’m in! I’ve spent my entire life serving in lay ministry – what far too many of us view as second class in our so often Pastor venerating church culture. Turrigiano believes that there are no “spiritual superstars or celebrities” (or at least there shouldn’t be). He believes that the practice of Holy Spirit led ministry is for everyone, “regular everyday believers” (p.1). Without specifically using the term, Mike calls us back to the Priesthood of all Believers – something that should be second nature to us as Protestants, but so few of us actually believe in our practice!
He begins with his own Christian journey which began in Pentecostalism. While he appreciates his roots, he:
“soon grew uncomfortable with what seemed to be showy, strange, and, at times, manipulative behavior. I loved Jesus and the people in the church, but I didn’t like the package.”I’m No Superman, p. 6
It was only after this that he began to embrace a different approach to Holy Spirit ministry that he refers to as “naturally supernatural” – “no hype… relaxed, comfortable, real.” [This is fleshed out more in chapter 9].
“I learned that I didn’t have to put on some spiritual persona, change the tone of my voice when I prayed, or get dramatic or frenzied inI’m No Superman, p. 6-7
order for the Spirit to move. The most significant and liberating discovery was that I could just be myself”
In chapter 4, he deals with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, again departing from the traditional Pentecostal understanding which ties it directly to glossolalia (i.e. speaking in tongues) as a one-for-one correspondence. I won’t say more than that here. Just get the book and read it for yourself!
Turrigiano deals with charismatic excesses & how to avoid them, and spiritual gifts (Hint: “your” gifts aren’t gifts for you, they’re for others) in chapters 5 and 6. Another thing I like about Mike’s writing is that he isn’t afraid to say when he’s just not entirely sure on a subject (p. 27). Not only does that show humility, but its just plain good hermeneutics – when scripture is not entirely clear on a subject or topic, we should not be dogmatic or pretend that it is clear. Pastor Mike also takes a pretty clear stand in the book that there is to be “no spiritual elitism” in the body of Christ (p. 28)! Nor is he afraid to embrace mystery (p.35) – something I think our typically overly intellectualized brand of Evangelical Christianity could benefit by embracing more of.
Being against spiritual elitism falls right in line with the assumption that ‘Everybody gets to Play.’ So Turrigiano wants people to think and do Holy Spirit ministry in the “marketplace” of their everyday life (as much or more than in the gathered church setting). So you’ll find plenty here about ‘seeing what the Father is doing and joining in’ (p. 39f.)
Chapter 8 hit home for me. Because it’s about control! Not only have I found the issue of control to be a struggle in my own life, but I have come to believe that it is the root of a lot of unhealthy relationships, patterns and dysfunction. Relinquishing control to the Spirit (the same way Jesus did) is the answer to so much that is dehumanizing and destructive.
Slowing down and listening are also keys to Holy Spirit ministry (p. 62f.), but these ideas won’t go over well in a “McChurch” environment. Earlier in the book, Turrigiano connects the idea of the contemplative life with the Charismatic (p. 3) – an idea that he (and I would guess most of us) have previously thought of as polar opposites. Our time spent with God, resting quietly in His presence, and learning to listen for His voice, equips us to be ready when Kingdom ministry opportunities come along just when we least expect them!
No Vineyard book on Holy Spirit ministry would be complete without a discussion of the 5-step Prayer Model. You’ll find it here in chapter 12. Mike ties it back to John Wimber’s understanding of Jesus’ own “watch, listen, ask and obey approach” (p. 69).
Vineyard?!? But what about that whole ‘barking in the Spirit’ thing? I’m glad you asked! When the Spirit comes in power, weird stuff does happen. But how can you attribute all that crazy stuff to the Holy Spirit? Well, for Turrigiano, he sees these things (shaking, falling, etc.) less as manifestations of the Holy Spirit and more as simply how people react to the power encounter that takes place during the clash of the kingdoms when the Kingdom of God encounters the kingdom of darkness. People’s reactions differ. I can tell you from my own personal experience that when I have experienced the power of the Spirit’s presence, I was filled with an incredible peace that I can’t quite express, as well as an awareness of the “hugeness” of God’s love that, again, I just don’t exactly have words for. But yeah, I was one of those that “you couldn’t tell by the looks of it” (p. 82) that I was having a profound experience with God. But don’t take my word for it. Read Mike’s full treatment of the whole “Shake Rattle & Roll” question in chapter 14 of the book.
Toward the end of the book, my good friend Luke Geraty gives a theological treatment of the Spirit’s work in chapter 15. Perhaps surprisingly for some, Geraty brings in ideas from traditionally “non-charismatic” theologians and movements to expand our understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit both in the church and beyond. It’s worth the read!
Always the Pastor, Turrigiano returns to close out the book with a real life illustration of how this all really works out in practice with “Rachel’s Story” (chapter 16). It’s fairly detailed and definitely moving! One final thing about the book that I haven’t mentioned yet is that there are great discussion questions at the end of each chapter. So I’m No Superman not only stands on its own as a great book, but could easily be used as a small group curriculum where you could literally put into practice the principles of Holy Spirit ministry that you just learned about right there in your own bible study, home group, house church, or missional community!
In short, I strongly encourage the reading of Mike Turrigiano’s I’m No Superman. But more importantly I exhort you all to put into practice the principles of Holy Spirit Ministry for the Rest of Us! Who knows? You just might change the world.
Read the book and be sure to share your own insights in the comments below.