We live in a world where real friendship is hard to find. Suspicious of others and insecure about ourselves, we retreat into the safety of our small, self-made worlds. Now more than ever, it’s easy to avoid people with whom we disagree or whose life experiences don’t mirror our own. Safe among like-minded peers and digital “friends,” we really don’t have to engage with those who can challenge and enhance our limited perspectives. Tragically, even the church can become a place that minimizes diversity and reinforces isolation.
Jesus models a much richer vision of friendship. Scott Sauls, pastor and teacher, invites you to see the breadth of Christ’s love in this book, Befriend.
Scott has written one phenomenal book, direly needed for these times. Sharp. Informed. Culturally savvy. Biblical. This book will deeply change lives and start a befriend revolution. It’s powerfully changed me, and I’m sitting here revived in desperately parched places-feeling a bit of a holy hush. These pages echo the heart of God.
Bestselling author of The Broken Way
Books like Befriend have me hopeful that God’s people are going to rise to the occasion of our moment in history with God’s goodness and grace. I pray that as you read through each of these chapters, you might add more serious and diverse friendships to enrich and expand your view of what God is up to in our day. I couldn’t be more grateful for Scott’s voice on this topic.
Pastor of The Village Church, author of The Explicit Gospel and co-author of The Mingling of Souls
Scott Sauls is a pastor even through his writing. He doesn’t preach, he cares for souls and gently reminds us of a better way, of the tension and beauty of following Jesus. Jesus was and is a friend. Scott not only writes masterfully about that, but lives like Jesus in this way.
Founder/visionary of IF:Gathering and author of Anything and Restless.
In this accessible book, Scott Sauls looks at virtually the entirety of the Christian life through the prism of friendship, and that’s a well-grounded project theologically. When the gospel makes God our friend rather than our enemy, and we are also reconciled to ourselves—both our sin and our identity in Jesus, our friend—then we move out into the world in a new way. As Scott so ably shows us, Christian practice is to a great degree an exercise in friendship. This is a helpful, practical, and rich encouragement to bring all of our life in line with the gospel.
Senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City and author of The Songs of Jesus
In Befriend, Scott Sauls provides real rescue from loneliness by highlighting what it means to be in real relationship and exposing the difference between “friending” and “befriending”. In a world full of “likes,” Scott points us back to love. There could not be a better time for a book such as this one.
Talk Show host, wife and mother, and author of The G-Free Diet
It feels ironic that in an age when connectivity is on the rise so is loneliness. Friendships, real friendships, aren’t always easy, but they are always important. I’m glad that Scott has taken such an honest look at something we all need more of. And because he’s my friend, he forgave me for ending that last sentence with a preposition and beginning this one with and.
New York Times Bestselling author of Do Over
Simply stated, this book is important. For the kind of humans we want to be in the world in which we are living, Befriend is what we need to read and use as a guidebook as we work hard to love our neighbors well. Wanting to be culture shapers requires effort and focus and Scott pastors us all towards that end in this and all of his writings. I’m grateful for his voice in my life and in our culture.
Bestselling author of Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave
One of the major problems facing people today is loneliness. Friendships are hard to form, and even harder to maintain. Isolation and superficiality are easier, but deaden the soul. Respected pastor Scott Sauls here presents a Christian vision of deep friendship. This book is wise, biblical, and practical. It could help change your life.
President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Today’s Christians have a reputation for shaking our fists at our culture rather than shining a light within it. What if instead we led with 1 Corinthians 13 love, risking relationships with those we might otherwise avoid — locally and across the globe? That’s what Scott Sauls challenges us to do in BeFriend. This timely book is a guide for you and me to address relationship barriers we may not even be aware of and courageously engage heart-first in our world, drawing closer to Jesus as we do.
President/CEO of World Vision
We Christians know that love is the “greatest of these,” yet we struggle to live out that love alongside other loved sinners. In this highly readable and timely book, pastor Scott Sauls draws on Scripture, pop culture, and his own life to illuminate the various and often unlikely people we are called to love. I hope and pray that this book will give more of us a deeper knowledge of our own belovedness in Christ, a knowledge that can set us free to love others well and with abandon.
Print managing editor, Christianity Today magazine and author of A Woman’s Place
When I turned 40, I made myself a promise—to throw myself into a resource I had long neglected while frantically climbing Mount Significance—people and friendships. While I’ve made significant headway, my only regrets are that I didn’t do this sooner, and that didn’t have my friend Scott Sauls’ book, Befriend, as a treasure trove to guide me on the journey. Befriend is a book I will return to time and again…with friends, to both learn and be inspired in experiencing both the deepest longing and greatest challenge of my heart—true friendship.
Lead pastor of Abundant Life Church and author of Saving the Saved
Scott teaches us about befriending others by showing us how graciously Jesus has first befriended us. Befriend is both wise and earthy, relevant and practical. But most of all, as Scott reveals his own need for Jesus, amid the very real questions of our generation, we too see our own need and our own questions. This leaves all of us looking to Jesus. Thank you Scott.
Pastor of Riverside Church and author of The Imperfect Pastor
As Scott Sauls says in Befriend, “Real friendship happens when we move toward the people we are most tempted to avoid.” Sauls challenges us to break free of those things than hinder us from befriending others, not by our own strength and might, but by the power of God through love. If God so loved the world, shouldn’t we? Befriend helps us embrace this awesome calling and moves us one step closer to one another.
Author of Enjoy (forthcoming 2017), Fear and Faith and United
In an age of isolation, loneliness, and social fragmentation, there is a tremendous opportunity for the church to offer what Jesus offers: deep community to those who need it, namely all of humanity. With disarming candor and gritty realism, Scott Sauls demonstrates how to apply the Gospel to befriend a wide range of broken image bearers…a group that includes you and me. A life-giving read for such a time as this.
Co-author of When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself
In a world of superficial acquaintances, Scott Sauls casts a compelling vision of a better way. In Befriend, he insightfully diagnoses what’s missing in our relationships and prescribes a practical and hopeful way forward. This book will challenge your assumptions of what friendships are with a fresh view of what they could be. Read this book with caution, it will move, convict and stretch you to experience the kind of friendships God intended.
Pastor of Church of the City in Nashville and author of Rumors of God
Scott Sauls is the real deal! Honest, vulnerable, funny… In Befriend he teaches us how to lose control in order to find a better way—a way full of freedom, joy, intimate community, safe harbor, and warm hospitality for those who often live on the margins of the church and society by no fault of their own—the Way of Jesus. I hope you’ll read the book and take it to heart!
CEO and President of Preemptive Love Coalition
BeFriend is a book about the everyday work of being a neighbor. It is as practical as it is pastoral, inviting us to bridge indifference, suspicion, even hostility to love the world God so loved. Sauls writes with refreshing humility and biblical wisdom: his is a voice to trust.
JEN POLLOCK MICHEL
Award-winning author of Teach Us to Want and Keeping Place
Befriend is a practical, winsome, and engaging book that explores the complexities of friendship in ways that are bound to make you uncomfortable and to inspire you to look at your friends anew. Grounded in theology and personal experience, Scott Souls’ book is a great daily devotional, small group study, or personal study on friendship and the gospel.
Editor in Chief of Christ and Pop Culture and assistant professor of English, Oklahoma Baptist University
I’ve never seen Scott Sauls back down from a difficult topic. And I’ve never seen him miss an opportunity to make much of God’s grace abounding in Jesus. In our age of judgment, isolation, and fear Scott shows us what a friend we have in Jesus.
Editorial Director of The Gospel Coalition and author of Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church
BeFriend calls us to something beautiful, something important, something better. In an age where engaging, complex relationships are so easily passed over for effortless, superficial counterfeits, Scott Sauls calls us from the shadows of pretending into the light of real friendship. Anyone who has ever felt even the slightest emotional reaction to how they fare in the world of social media will find in this book a reasoned path to the truth about who we are and how we were made to relate to one another. I am so thankful for my friend Scott Sauls’ wisdom, courage, and voice.
Pastor, award-winning author of Behold the King of Glory and Struck, and content editor for She/He Reads Truth
I simply wasn’t prepared for the power, impact and deeply convicting thoughts included in Befriend by Scott Sauls. But the reality is that many of the most convicting words were spoken by Jesus before they were repeated by Scott. The scandalous and profound truth is that not only did Jesus speak these words, he lived them. This is where Befriend shines the focused spotlight. Steadfast in truth, agile in love. Like I said, I wasn’t prepared, but I am propelled by what happened in my soul through this beautiful work of words.
President/CEO of Youth for Christ USA
I’ll be honest. This book scares me. Jesus said the heart of our life with God and others is relationship, but so many of us—me included—rarely come close to plumbing the depths of what true relationship is. Real love is terrifying. True intimacy makes you so…vulnerable. And selflessness is a kind of dying. In Befriend, Scott Sauls takes us on an emotional, honest and at times raw journey we all need to take.
Host of the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, author, and founding pastor of Connexus Church
In an increasingly fractious age in which we reduce each other to soundbites, demographics and stereotypes; burying ourselves deeper in social media silos with those who think like us. Scott Sauls gently and prophetically reminds us of the power of befriending those who are different, reminding of Jesus’ habit of seeing the image of God in the ‘other’. This is an urgent and healing book.
Senior Pastor of Red Church in Melbourne, Australia and author of Facing Leviathan and Disappearing Church
“How can we begin to heal the wounds of division that plague our polarized society? It won’t happen with another think piece or hot take blog rant. No amount of tweeting or texting will solve it. It will only happen in the context of real, flesh-and-blood relationships. This is why Scott Sauls’ simple yet profound book Befriend is so valuable and timely. From a variety of angles and with a wide array of stories and examples, Sauls cuts through the partisan clutter and makes a compelling case for friendship as a way to break the stalemate.”
Author of Hipster Christianity and Gray Matters
Scott Sauls understands a vital truth and writes about it with refreshingly accessible but persistently gracious challenge: the gospel comes alive for us more through the risk of relationships than through assent to theological precepts and moral teachings. Making ourselves vulnerably present to others in genuine friendship is God’s way of taking on flesh and blood among us. After all, this was the way of Jesus. In today’s cultural environment tenuously held together by thin lines of social connection, BeFriend offers faithful encouragement and wisdom on the importance of genuine friendship, thankfully perhaps not yet a lost calling for the church.
THE REV. R. LEIGH SPRUILL
Rector, St. George’s Church, Nashville, Tennessee
Christ’s people must avoid two sacrifices: love on the altar of truth, and truth on the altar of love. Scott Sauls’ voice is a refreshing alternative to the bombast that fills our airwaves and, sadly, many of our pulpits. With keen insight and elegant prose, Scott shows us how to engage our world in a winsome yet subversive manner.
Managing editor of The Gospel Coalition
We live in the most connected generation in history and yet we may be the most disconnected generation in history. My friend Scott Sauls calls Christians to something deeper, to be intentional about friendship in a way that is a catalyst for change. This is the kind of soul-level relationship Jesus calls us to, one of risk and sacrifice. If Christians read and apply what Sauls is saying, they will become life-giving agents of grace in their communities.
VP of Communications for Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, author of The Original Jesus
In a culture that’s become more fragmented and lonely, Scott provides what many of us are longing for…a roadmap to deep, life giving relationships. The journey to Befriend will surprise us and challenge many of our assumptions, but it’s exactly what we all need.
President and CEO of Jobs for Life
Nothing encapsulates the understanding of Jesus and the intentional living of those who follow him more than the words “love” and “belonging”. In Befriend Scott Sauls gives us the courage to embrace the “us” into belonging, a belonging that echoes in the depths of true friendship. Befriend is an anatomy of friendship; one that leads to love, one that leads to life.”
Documentary and video director, founder of Rubicon Ireland, and author of Broken: Restoring Trust Between the Sacred and the Secular
Whether the issue of the day on Twitter, Facebook, or cable news is our sexuality, political divides, or the perceived conflict between faith and science, today’s media pushes each one of us into a frustrating clash between two opposing sides. Polarizing, us-against-them discussions divide us and distract us from thinking clearly and communicating lovingly with others. Scott Sauls, like many of us, is weary of the bickering and is seeking a way of truth and beauty through the conflicts. Jesus Outside the Lines presents Jesus as this way. Scott shows us how the words and actions of Jesus reveal a response that does not perpetuate the destructive fray. Jesus offers us a way forward – away from harshness, caricatures and stereotypes. In Jesus Outside the Lines, you will experience a fresh perspective of Jesus, who will not (and should not) fit into the sides.
Jesus Outside the Lines is a refreshing look at discipleship in our late modern times. While it’s impossible to cover all the possible topics, Scott’s book is still surprisingly comprehensive and readable at the same time. He seamlessly weaves together theology, cultural critique, Christian ethics, and character formation in each chapter. The result is a picture of Christian living that should be attractive to believers and to many skeptics as well.
Senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City and author of The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
As people who have wrestled much with God’s habit of redemptively “coloring outside the lines” in our own lives and experience, we are so grateful for the wisdom, care, and honesty with which our friend and pastor Scott Sauls has approached this subject in this book.
STEVEN CURTIS AND MARY BETH CHAPMAN
Five-time Grammy winner and orphan-care advocates
By the end of this book, I’m sure you’ll feel the way I do about Scott. You will have met a caring and thoughtful leader, one who carries a burden of sincere concern for our world while being a trustworthy and reliable guide. He’s not interested in stirring up unhelpful, provocative arguments and banter. But rather, Scott presses into the gray—which is outside the lines, knowing it is only there that we find the heart of Jesus.
Founder of Q and co-author of unChristian and Good Faith
In an increasing loud, polarizing world that finds itself in this confusing, prevailing “culture of outrage,” of these us-against-them conversations about sexuality, politics, race, money, injustice, religion, Scott Sauls is called of God to show a third way, a better way, a desperately needed way. Scott, a Nashville pastor, has written one of the most needed books of our times, one that I fervently believe should be in the hands of every single Christian without exception—to show us how we can pair gentleness with conviction, kindness with passion, and humility with strength—even with the harder issues.
Blogger and author of One Thousand Gifts and The Broken Way
Scott Sauls has given me fresh hope in this thoughtful and lively book, Jesus Outside the Lines. He describes hope as imagining God’s future into the present and does just that. He gives us a new way of relating to each other inside the church—especially on divisive topics related to our politics and commitments—in hopes of sweeter aroma to those who don’t know Jesus. And he prods us to engage the issues of the world we live in—poverty, abortion, sexual “freedom,” and selfish ambition, to name a few—with humility and love. It’s so easy to be discouraged by the broken state of the church and the world, but Scott reminds us that God’s once-and-for-all restoration project has already begun. We only need to believe that gospel!
KATHERINE LEARY ALSDORF
Founder and director emeritus, Redeemer Center for Faith & Work, and co-author of Every Good Endeavor
As a public official, I am often painfully aware of the church’s tendency to want to paint lines that divide rather than drawing pictures of a life-giving Savior. As an exemplary model of speaking truth in love, Scott is a refreshing alternative to this. I am among many who have the privilege of trying to figure out how to do this alongside him.
Governor of Tennessee
I used to wonder why my dear friend Scott Sauls wasn’t already a published author, for I’ve learned so much from my younger brother. But I’m glad he waited. Jesus Outside the Lines isn’t a first book; it’s more like fine wine, distilled wisdom, and the vintage aroma of grace. Thank you, Scott, for showing me that Christianity is both true and beautiful; that I matter, but that I’m not the point; that the family of God is bigger than my favorite tribe in the family; that contextualizing the gospel isn’t compromising the gospel; that God loves the world, not just people in the world; that Jesus isn’t nervously pacing the corridors of heaven, he’s actively making all things new. Thank you, Scott, for reminding me the gospel is so much bigger and better than I can imagine.
Founder of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and author of Everyday Prayers
My pastor and friend, Scott Sauls, thoughtfully challenges the instinct to retreat or compromise when perspectives collide. With grace and humility, he calls us to press in and engage those whose perspectives are different than our own. If you are weary of the pressure to choose sides and declare an enemy, Jesus Outside the Lines will show you a refreshingly different path.
President and CEO of Sony ATV Music Nashville
The “conform or else” mentality of our late modern culture is disheartening, lamentable, and transgressive to human flourishing. Yet the root of the problem isn’t “out there” in our culture, but “in here” in our hearts. In Jesus Outside the Lines, Scott Sauls is authentic and vulnerable as he wisely and gently reminds us of our brokenness and shows us how the power and beauty of the gospel can heal us, from the inside out.
Founder of the Park Forum and director of the Gospel Coalition’s “Every Square Inch”
We live in cultural moment that has made it feel almost impossible for Christians to find their voice. We feel silenced, marginalized, and in need of defending ourselves. But this reaction has not helped. Choosing sides in the larger cultural conflicts has only left us feeling misunderstood, stereotyped, and caricatured. We long for another way. And this is what Scott has given us in this book. With theological insight, cultural astuteness, and the compassionate tone of Jesus, he paints a way for the church to have influence without coercion and put the brilliance of Jesus on display in a pluralistic world. A worthy read.
Founding pastor of Trinity Grace Church, New York, and author of Sacred Roots: Why the Church Still Matters
The deepest learning we do is always over the shoulder and through the heart. In Jesus Outside the Lines, Scott Sauls invites everyone everywhere into an honest conversation about the things that matter most—and therefore at the same time are the most tender and contentious for us. But he does so as a friend, offering thoughtful, rich, even pastoral counsel for believer and unbeliever alike, longing as he does that we find ways to flourish as human beings who have commitments and convictions about God, politics, money, sexuality, and more, agreeing to disagree where we must, but with love and respect, with listening and friendship. In our polarizing world, where the more we know about each other means the less we care for each other, Scott’s vision is a gift for those who care for our common good.
Founder and principal of the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation & Culture and author of Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good
Scott Sauls is my pastor and friend. He is a man who deeply loves Christ. He is not a Christian writer as much as he is a writer and pastor and father and husband and brother and son who is a Christian, a follower of Christ. Scott’s words will challenge you, make you mad and happy, make you cry and make you laugh. Art is supposed to make you feel something and glorify God all at the same time. I believe he accomplishes that!
Hall of Fame songwriter
As a pastor, it’s a given that Scott would comb the Scriptures for answers to so many cultural issues we’re facing today; but he also puts his own story and life into each chapter. I’m so thankful for the overall tone of the book, which combines bold, substantive truth with humility and grace. Jesus Outside the Lines will be an amazing companion to those of us attempting to be “salt and light” in our world.
Senior vice president of men’s design, Polo Ralph Lauren
I’ve always valued my conversations and friendship with Scott Sauls, particularly when it comes to his vision of countercultural acts of love, justice, and service. As a QB in the NFL for the past seventeen years, I appreciate Scott putting to paper the feelings and discussions that we often engage in amidst the locker-room setting. Scott boldly and bravely addresses polarizing issues we deal with today in ways I’ve previously never considered. Thoughtfully reflecting on Jesus Outside the Lines, I realize this book paints a clear picture of what I hope to become as a follower of Christ.
Scott Sauls is a refreshing voice, seasoned with maturity and grace regarding the complex issues of our time. He tackles topics that have long created division with such heartfelt hope that I’m more encouraged than ever about the future of the church.
Cofounder of Q and author of Freefall to Fly
Scott takes on key issues in an honest and candid manner and helps us understand them in a way that is humane, biblical, and ultimately Christlike. I want to care more for my friends, be quicker to listen to others, and yet with more conviction live for the One who truly offers us life in all its fullness. Jesus Outside the Lines is a helpful companion for this endeavor.
Jesus Outside the Lines is a valuable encouragement in my quest to live with Jesus and follow his command to love my neighbor. Scott Sauls touches on the most relevant issues a follower of Jesus confronts in our present-day culture. He brings clarity and direction for living in a way that promotes Jesus and builds his Kingdom. Scott’s thoughts are honest, refreshingly real, and, most of all, helpful to me. I have gained a more insightful understanding of how Jesus’ thoughts should affect my own thoughts and how I can live out his commands in my day-to-day walk.
PGA Tour golf professional
In Jesus Outside the Lines, Scott Sauls has provided an insightful approach to engaging our world, which is too often fraught with deep-seated conflict and historical divisions. Scott calls us to affirm the dignity of all persons. He urges us to resist the temptation to see each other simply from our own perspective but to see each other as image bearers of God, challenging us to love our neighbors with a radical and honest humility.
Executive director of Hope for New York
The kind of voice we increasingly need to help guide deep and respectful conversation around the claims of Jesus is one of humility, kindness, and humor. Judging by this book, Scott Sauls is beginning to emerge as one of our best voices.
Campus minister and author of This is Awkward
In Jesus Outside the Lines, my pastor Scott Sauls provides a path for those less interested in “going to church” and more eager to “be the church.” He presses us toward a keen awareness of the image of God in humanity, thoughtfully engaging us to love each and every neighbor, not just a select few, even as we love ourselves. Scott calls us to subversive, countercultural acts of love, justice, and service for the common good with a vision to further the Kingdom of God in our time. If you are looking to be an active and life-giving contributor to God’s mission, you need to look no further than Jesus Outside the Lines.
President/chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville
From disagreements to unity, from outrage to true humility, Scott Sauls’s Jesus Outside the Lines offers grace as the compelling alternative to the current social norms of judgment and reductionism. Fueled by how Jesus embodied his words and loved his enemies, Scott’s book offers a conversational and winsome reminder to be attentive to particulars in a world of generalities. The book is an invitation to respect one another, even when we disagree. When this kind of generosity is the banner, truth and love come together and triumph over tribal divisions.
I admire Scott Sauls as I admire few other pastors. And now all of us can benefit from him through his writing. Jesus Outside the Lines is the message we need to hear right now, as our nation is so deeply divided. Just imagine the peace we could enjoy together if we erased our self-invented lines and let Jesus redraw them for us in his own unsettling, beautiful way. Scott’s book can free us to do so.
Author and lead pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee
As Christians with strong convictions, we often feel the need to argue and defend our positions. And certainly, we should be prepared to give a reason for the hope we have and to articulate important doctrines. But as Scott explains, we can do so in a winsome way that doesn’t alienate or demonize those who disagree with us. We need to seek to understand before seeking to be understood. We need to extend grace and compassion. In short, if we want to change the current antagonistic culture that pervades much of the church, we must learn to love our enemies, not just our tribe. In Jesus Outside the Lines, Scott shows us how.
Speaker, blogger, freelance journalist, and host of Up for Debate, a national talk program on the Moody Radio Network
In our age of explosion of readable media, I, ironically, find myself reading less and less, unless it is within my immediate field of research interest. As I began reading Scott Sauls’s Jesus Outside the Lines, however, I knew I was encountering something truly extraordinary. Now that I’ve finished reading, this would be the very first book I’d recommend to anyonewho wants to get beyond the incessant cultural and political strife—so prevalent in our time—which inexorably begets the erosion of genuine Christian faith. In fact, I would recommend this to my own child as the first cultural primer as a sojourner on his way to the City of God. Tolle lege!
Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, Tennessee