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Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human.

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You’ve heard people say “Who you are matters more than what you do”. Does the Bible really teach that?  In Garden City, popular pastor and speaker John Mark Comer gives a fresh take on our calling and our purpose, with a surprisingly counter-culture take. Through his creative and conversational style, Comer takes a good look at Genesis and the story of a man, a woman, and a You’ve heard people say “Who you are matters more than what you do”. Does the Bible really teach that?  In Garden City, popular pastor and speaker John Mark Comer gives a fresh take on our calling and our purpose, with a surprisingly counter-culture take. Through his creative and conversational style, Comer takes a good look at Genesis and the story of a man, a woman, and a garden. He unpacks God’s creation and his original intent for how we are meant to spend our time. Here, you’ll find answers to questions like “Does God care where I work?”  “What about what I do with my free time or how much rest I get?” “Does he have a clear direction for me?” Practical and theologically rich, Garden City speaks to twenty and thirty-somethings who are figuring out next steps and direction in their lives.  Garden City is the Purpose Driven Life for the next generation—the book that helps us answer why we are here and what should we do about it.


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You’ve heard people say “Who you are matters more than what you do”. Does the Bible really teach that?  In Garden City, popular pastor and speaker John Mark Comer gives a fresh take on our calling and our purpose, with a surprisingly counter-culture take. Through his creative and conversational style, Comer takes a good look at Genesis and the story of a man, a woman, and a You’ve heard people say “Who you are matters more than what you do”. Does the Bible really teach that?  In Garden City, popular pastor and speaker John Mark Comer gives a fresh take on our calling and our purpose, with a surprisingly counter-culture take. Through his creative and conversational style, Comer takes a good look at Genesis and the story of a man, a woman, and a garden. He unpacks God’s creation and his original intent for how we are meant to spend our time. Here, you’ll find answers to questions like “Does God care where I work?”  “What about what I do with my free time or how much rest I get?” “Does he have a clear direction for me?” Practical and theologically rich, Garden City speaks to twenty and thirty-somethings who are figuring out next steps and direction in their lives.  Garden City is the Purpose Driven Life for the next generation—the book that helps us answer why we are here and what should we do about it.

30 review for Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human.

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    [7/10 This book is definitely outside the genres I usually read, and honestly the writing style is not what I'm used to. I'm not necessarily looking for the best writing ever when it comes to these more message-driven books, but I'm also not used to reading writing that sounds, at times, more like an Instagram caption. That being said, it fulfills on what it's trying to do, makes a lot of good points, while being enlightening, encouraging and educational. I imagine people that love these kinds of [7/10 This book is definitely outside the genres I usually read, and honestly the writing style is not what I'm used to. I'm not necessarily looking for the best writing ever when it comes to these more message-driven books, but I'm also not used to reading writing that sounds, at times, more like an Instagram caption. That being said, it fulfills on what it's trying to do, makes a lot of good points, while being enlightening, encouraging and educational. I imagine people that love these kinds of books will probably enjoy this one more than I did, but that isn't to say I disliked this book—I would still recommend it to those interested.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Gordon

    Garden City. I really appreciated what this book had to say about our work, about Sabbath, and about what we choose to do in this life mattering when Jesus returns. But I had to work to appreciate it, because of my disagreement with the author’s personal beliefs on a few things. Some points from the book: Life isnt’ about trying to catch a break, or shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t be spending our lives trying to do the least work we can so that we can rest, play, vacation, whatever. In the beginning, G Garden City. I really appreciated what this book had to say about our work, about Sabbath, and about what we choose to do in this life mattering when Jesus returns. But I had to work to appreciate it, because of my disagreement with the author’s personal beliefs on a few things. Some points from the book: Life isnt’ about trying to catch a break, or shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t be spending our lives trying to do the least work we can so that we can rest, play, vacation, whatever. In the beginning, God made us to work WITH HIM, as partners, to develop His world. The reason that work is frustrating, depressing, whatever, right now, is because of sin in our world. But we were made to work, and to enjoy work, and his point is to find something you love and are passionate about doing, if you can, but whatever you do, to be your BEST at it, because it matters to God. Not only that, but (and this is a new thought I hadn’t heard before) our work here will matter when Jesus returns because believers will live and reign on earth with Him. Comer’s point is that we need to be the best carpenter, plumber, accountant, mother, NOW because we may be using those skills when God renews this earth at His return. Sabbath should be a natural rhythm of our lives. He brings up the point that only slaves work non-stop, without reward, for someone else. And we are not slaves. At creation, God put a life rhythm into motion when He chose to rest on the 7th day. Taking regular time that is restful and life giving is something He wants and expects for His people. It’s how we get renewed, how we gain perspective, how we connect with God and people. On Sabbath for Comer’s family, there are no electronics, no product consuming, only fun and rest and family and food (made beforehand). This type of Sabbath is something we want to practice in our family because we need to get better at putting work aside and letting the world go on without us to be there for each other. Overall Garden City had some helpful, intriguing thoughts and ideas about work and Sabbath, but like I said, Comer’s beliefs and personality were hard for me to work through to take the good that he was writing about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tammy K

    This book has challenged and inspired my views on creativity, calling, work (especially the kind you don't get paid for), the concept of Sabbath and so much more. It's going to be on my mind for quite some time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ty

    This is the most biblical and practical guide to work and rest I have ever encountered. I believe every follower of Jesus who is struggling to find joy and purpose in their should read this book, and I can assure you, you will be encouraged. After my wife and I listened to it, we immediately made practical changes to the way we Sabbath and talk about work! Incredible read!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ivy

    “Who you are matters more than what you do” I have heard a lot about this book and was excited to read it. It delivers the practical advice and the "theologically rich" but I have to say that it was not exactly what I expected. I like the message, I like to think that everyone has a purpose. It's important that we - and especially all those people who consider themselves superior - acknowledge, that whatever job one does that contributes to society in any way, is a good job, important and worth i “Who you are matters more than what you do” I have heard a lot about this book and was excited to read it. It delivers the practical advice and the "theologically rich" but I have to say that it was not exactly what I expected. I like the message, I like to think that everyone has a purpose. It's important that we - and especially all those people who consider themselves superior - acknowledge, that whatever job one does that contributes to society in any way, is a good job, important and worth it. Everybody can do something better than others and better than other things. You just need to find that something for you. And it doesn't matter whether you are twenty-something or thirty-something, you can always figure out next steps and a new direction in your life. "If it doesn't cost you it costs someone else." He does make lots of good points, written in an enlightening and encouraging way, like the importance of work, especially the work we're not being paid for. Or his idea of "sabbath", to not focus on too much on what day it should be and what you are or are not allowed to do as to your religious beliefs but rather just seize the opportunity to not have just a day off but a day of rest. Or consumerism as a modern form of slavery. And the thought that what you do with the money you earn is as important as the job you do. I appreciate a lot he shares but I don't agree with all of his beliefs. His thoughts on God's original intent for how we're meant to spend our time are new to me, which doesn't have to be a bad thing. But in some way it came across somewhat too pushy. It is a quick read though and delivers a lot. There's a reason that narcissists are often depressed while those helping others are the happiest.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    It’s so good, I’m going to start it again immediately. I want it to soak in. It’s great to read a book that articulates beautifully thoughts I’ve had about work, rest and our calling as humans on this wonderful orb called Earth.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brad Linden

    This is my current favorite book in the “faith and work”/“all of life is spiritual” genre. It has broad theological and philosophical thoughts about being human, working, resting, etc. but also has the most hands-on practical insights of any book in this genre I’ve read (not in the “how to” sense, but in examining the meaning and impact of specific, narrow aspects and questions of work and faith). For example, I really appreciated the discussion on how his friend(?) the furniture designer glorif This is my current favorite book in the “faith and work”/“all of life is spiritual” genre. It has broad theological and philosophical thoughts about being human, working, resting, etc. but also has the most hands-on practical insights of any book in this genre I’ve read (not in the “how to” sense, but in examining the meaning and impact of specific, narrow aspects and questions of work and faith). For example, I really appreciated the discussion on how his friend(?) the furniture designer glorifies God with his work. He avoids making everything “practical” and gets into some great reflections on the meaning of beauty, craftsmanship, and glory. I will warn you in advance that the typeface, page design, and (some of the) writing style are kind of “hipster theology”, but I attest that the content is solid. (My other favorite on this topic is Mike Wittmer’s Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life?, which is slightly more theologically focused)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Matherne

    This book was unnecessarily long winded, simply put, and repetitive. Yet, it was full of useful, wise reminders that arose throughout my day. Although Comer did not make any revolutionary or controversial points (in my mind), I found myself recommending it to everyone.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    wow! I loved this book! it truly is an overview of what it means to be a human made in the image of God. added to my favorites list!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Josh Johnson

    As I look back on the books I read in 2018, this one may be my favorite. It was at least the best timed for what I needed to hear and where I needed to grow. It helped me understand the interrelation between who I am becoming as a follower of Jesus and the work that I do on earth along the way. It helped me learn more about celebrating and investing in the talents and opportunities God has given me here, and it helped redefine the heart and motivation behind my business. On top of all that, I’m As I look back on the books I read in 2018, this one may be my favorite. It was at least the best timed for what I needed to hear and where I needed to grow. It helped me understand the interrelation between who I am becoming as a follower of Jesus and the work that I do on earth along the way. It helped me learn more about celebrating and investing in the talents and opportunities God has given me here, and it helped redefine the heart and motivation behind my business. On top of all that, I’m better at “sabbating” now, the verb my family likes to use to talk about celebrating Sabbath rest. And all of these lessons are tied to an eternal purpose, helping us grasp not only ramifications for the here and now, but a depth of meaning that resonates at the soul level. My wife and I read “Garden City” together when we found ourselves at a bit of a crossroads. In that setting in particular, this book was truly a gift.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hope Miller

    oh my word this book is so good. once again, read this because I love John Mark Comer. but I actually had no idea what the book was about. the title “Garden City” comes from the Genesis-like language used in Revelation to describe what is to come. essentially, a new Eden. this book is about work and rest and what God originally intended us to do with our time here on earth. the theology of work, if you will. John Mark dubs it as “the art of being human.” it is a call to be intentional in our wor oh my word this book is so good. once again, read this because I love John Mark Comer. but I actually had no idea what the book was about. the title “Garden City” comes from the Genesis-like language used in Revelation to describe what is to come. essentially, a new Eden. this book is about work and rest and what God originally intended us to do with our time here on earth. the theology of work, if you will. John Mark dubs it as “the art of being human.” it is a call to be intentional in our work as we look to the future in anticipation of the resurrection. and the eschatology presented in the last few chapters is quite intriguing. I went into it without any preconceived notions and was surprised by how rich it was. I’d definitely read it again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Janine Kunz

    My favorite chapter: I am not a machine. This bright spot highlights the need for rest as a way of relinquishing control. I also liked Mr. Comer's detailed focus on the realities (known and not known) of heaven, eternity and redemption. The premise of Garden City, otherwise says that my job is an opportunity for me to do my very best regardless of task. There were a few conclusions I didn't agree with. But I'll keep the good nuggets.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sam Victor

    “Our job is to make the invisible God visible — to mirror and mimic what he is like to the world. We can glorify God by doing our work in such a way that we make the invisible God visible by what we do and how we do it.” Grateful for John Mark's wisdom and insight on the topic of work and rest. I now think about my day to day work in a different way. By the way I work wherever the Lord has me, others can see God. By the way I work with excellence, my boss and coworkers can see God. And as Christi “Our job is to make the invisible God visible — to mirror and mimic what he is like to the world. We can glorify God by doing our work in such a way that we make the invisible God visible by what we do and how we do it.” Grateful for John Mark's wisdom and insight on the topic of work and rest. I now think about my day to day work in a different way. By the way I work wherever the Lord has me, others can see God. By the way I work with excellence, my boss and coworkers can see God. And as Christians we work hard, but also we rest. We unplug from the business of life and we rest with the Lord who restores us. I've learned so much from JMC about the topic of rest and this book was a great reminder.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    A great modern book on how to rest. I really loved reading his part of how him and his family do their sabbath. It was a good practical picture of enjoying the Sabbath in this modern world. His writing is very easy to read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    The author provides good insight about the purpose of work as well as its origins and design in the Bible. He also spends some time talking about the Sabbath, and how restorative the practice of resting well can be. There isn’t anything super novel in the book, but it includes plenty of helpful reminders and is worth the read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Ingram

    Reshaped my thinking in the best way.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Kelly

    Starts with a really cool perspective of Genesis and ends with an even cooler perspective of Revelation. Highly recommend.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hailey Truitt

    would give six stars if I could 🙌🏼

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Lewis

    Loved it! Logan and i read this together and it was such a fantastic conversation starter for us. John mark challenges me to live a life that in my most ideal dreams i fancy that i do. One that loves God and loves people well, that honors our world and stewards the gifts we’ve been given.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Reeco Butcher

    This book was so good! It really helped shape my view of work, sacred secular divide, resting in God‘s presence and what it really means to be human. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sheri Joyce

    So good! This should be a must-read for 20 somethings, certainly, but really for everyone!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sally Ewan

    My daughter said I might enjoy this book, but she also said, "It's more for young adults." She also forewarned me about the "conversational" style of the book. That style made it difficult to read, because the large print and frequent spaces made it feel as if I was reading a script for a monologue rather than an actual book. BUT. Let's not let our old age and crabbiness overwhelm the review. Comer has some great things to say about the value of our life and work here on earth and how it relates My daughter said I might enjoy this book, but she also said, "It's more for young adults." She also forewarned me about the "conversational" style of the book. That style made it difficult to read, because the large print and frequent spaces made it feel as if I was reading a script for a monologue rather than an actual book. BUT. Let's not let our old age and crabbiness overwhelm the review. Comer has some great things to say about the value of our life and work here on earth and how it relates to our ultimate destination. We all need to be reminded that what we do MATTERS and we are called to do it to the best of our ability for the glory of God. I do have to object to his criticism of the military—I don't think pacifism is the only option for Christians. And he did criticize God's sovereignty: "Usually it's found in hyper-Calvinism." And the other options are ----? God is weak? God is not paying attention? Evil is stronger than God? Sorry, that won't work. And I don't want to hear about how you brew your coffee. Someone needs to tell this modern generation that their fixation of coffee borders on idolatry! But I've slipped back into crabbiness. I am thankful for his message, and I do hope it will inspire and energize young people to pursue their vocation not for themselves, but for God.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    As a campus minister who is often encouraging students to see their studies, vocation and calling as theologically significant, this book hits the nail on the head. Comer has a great way with words so an easy and enjoyable read with great insight. He pays homage to several of favorite theologians, philosophers, and teachers...like Tim Keller, Walter Brueggemann, Dallas Willard , Abraham Heschel and more. Some might say it's a pastoral and even millennial description of reformed theology which I As a campus minister who is often encouraging students to see their studies, vocation and calling as theologically significant, this book hits the nail on the head. Comer has a great way with words so an easy and enjoyable read with great insight. He pays homage to several of favorite theologians, philosophers, and teachers...like Tim Keller, Walter Brueggemann, Dallas Willard , Abraham Heschel and more. Some might say it's a pastoral and even millennial description of reformed theology which I have come to appreciate (though it's not my background). Theological grounding of work. Explanation of sacred-secular divide. An eschatology that brings more meaning to this life and explains the "new earth." There's a lot of great material here that could make it a great book to study with students or a small group of some sort. And the coffee geek in me was excited about the "Chemex" reference. Ha! I highly recommend...especially for anyone dealing with issues of calling and vocation or speaking into the lives of those launching into higher ed and the marketplace.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Johnson

    "The Bible opens with God giving humans a vocation, a calling to rule, to look after his creation and make it flourish, and after a long, drawn-out detour through human history, the Bible ends with that vision finally coming to pass and even going forward." (258) I really enjoyed and appreciated this book for what it is. Comer himself admits he is offering very little original thought, but he passes on theology and eschatology and here-and-now ethics and wisdom he has learned at the feet of bedr "The Bible opens with God giving humans a vocation, a calling to rule, to look after his creation and make it flourish, and after a long, drawn-out detour through human history, the Bible ends with that vision finally coming to pass and even going forward." (258) I really enjoyed and appreciated this book for what it is. Comer himself admits he is offering very little original thought, but he passes on theology and eschatology and here-and-now ethics and wisdom he has learned at the feet of bedrock scholars (Heschel, Brueggemann, Willard, Wright, Volf). This book could (and has, judging by Goodreads popularity) really help popularize NHNE/Edenic eschatology, a creational work-rest rhythm, and a couple other important streams of thought that haven't seemed to reach "the church" yet. Pastorally, I could see the work-rest emphasis really hitting home with 18-25 year olds exploring a first vocation and 40-50 year olds reexploring vocation.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I liked the overall message (for the most part). I liked the other conversations that this book sparked. But I did not like the writing style at all. I think if you want to make a book from your blog or your sermons you should really work to make it sound like a book. It would also be okay to include more than 100 words per page. Just saying.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jake Baker

    Read this book. Easily the best book I've read regarding work and rest. It's a wonderful mix of understandable theology and relevant application. I think every American Christian should read this piece. Seriously. It's that good.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alan Kahn

    Although I don't agree with some minor things in this book, I have to say that it was eye-opening and very timely for me. Very encouraging and very very well written!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Quick read (or listen—I listened to the audiobook). I found it encouraging and thought provoking. There are 3 main topics in this book: work, rest, and the future (he calls it the art of being human). I appreciated the author’s perspective on work as a positive part of life and a legitimate act of worship. I thought he made it much easier to see how seemingly unimportant or unspiritual work can be both spiritual and meaningful with the right attitude. I also particularly enjoyed his writing on t Quick read (or listen—I listened to the audiobook). I found it encouraging and thought provoking. There are 3 main topics in this book: work, rest, and the future (he calls it the art of being human). I appreciated the author’s perspective on work as a positive part of life and a legitimate act of worship. I thought he made it much easier to see how seemingly unimportant or unspiritual work can be both spiritual and meaningful with the right attitude. I also particularly enjoyed his writing on the future... life after death and the renewal of the heavens and the earth. I didn’t necessarily agree with all of his own beliefs sprinkled here and there, but that’s part of being a separate human with my own brain. 😁 I’d recommend it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Claire Johnson

    The more I read Comer’s stuff the more I like him. I love his honesty and his deep thinking made practical. The first part - on work - is so so good. The chapter titled “the unearthing of a calling” literally walks through questions to help you get to the bottom of what you may be called to do. I recently came across an opportunity I wasn’t sure about so I ran it through these questions and it was so helpful. I only gave it 4 stars because the chapters on sabbath left something to be desired from The more I read Comer’s stuff the more I like him. I love his honesty and his deep thinking made practical. The first part - on work - is so so good. The chapter titled “the unearthing of a calling” literally walks through questions to help you get to the bottom of what you may be called to do. I recently came across an opportunity I wasn’t sure about so I ran it through these questions and it was so helpful. I only gave it 4 stars because the chapters on sabbath left something to be desired from me. They were good, I just have some lingering questions that didn’t get answered. All in all - highly recommend! And making my husband read it 😁

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Slonaker

    first third of the book, found it pretty cheesy. also felt like a self-help motivational book, i.e. “you can do it! quit your jobs and chase your dreams!” sure. but i wish JMC would’ve more directly addressed a more realistic approach, outside of his perspective (hipster, privileged pastor in Portland). love JMC tho, don’t get me wrong last 2/3 of the book i thoroughly enjoyed. really thought-provoking writing on work, why we work, and how all work matters to God. and the eschatology bit tying in first third of the book, found it pretty cheesy. also felt like a self-help motivational book, i.e. “you can do it! quit your jobs and chase your dreams!” sure. but i wish JMC would’ve more directly addressed a more realistic approach, outside of his perspective (hipster, privileged pastor in Portland). love JMC tho, don’t get me wrong last 2/3 of the book i thoroughly enjoyed. really thought-provoking writing on work, why we work, and how all work matters to God. and the eschatology bit tying into our work was tight. first book by JMC - looking forward to more. love the way he writes (also, easily the most aesthetically pleasing book i’ve ever read)

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