An anti-self-help book in the style of a self-help book

It’s great when a reviewer correctly identifies what you were trying to do in a book. Here’s the opening of the review by Jean Williams of You Can Change in September 2009’s edition of The Briefing.

Picking up Tim Chester’s You Can Change, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a self-help book. It has all the trappings – a title promising transformation, testimonies of change, an invitation to choose a personal “change project”, ten chapters with titles like “What would you like to change?” and questions for self-reflection. You Can Change is designed to communicate to a society obsessed with personal change, but it turns the self-help genre on its head.

That’s exactly what I was trying to do: write an anti-self-help book in the style of a self-help book. The next paragraph summarises the m,essage of the book better than I can!

It quickly becomes apparent that the only change Tim Chester is interested in is transformation into the likeness of Christ. The power for change is not inner strength or willpower, but the grace of God through the death of his Son, applied by his Spirit. The method for change is not rules and programs, but faith and repentance. The context for change is not the counsellor’s office of a solitary retreat, but the community of God’s people speaking the truth in love. The goal of change is not to find yourself, but to forget yourself in love and service. The message is not so much that you can change as that God can change you.

You Can Change purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US is available in the UK from IVP and is being published Crossway in the US in March 2010.


4 thoughts on “An anti-self-help book in the style of a self-help book

  1. Great summary, greater book. We used this book in all our missional communities this past summer and it took us to a new level of gospel-centeredness. We made the personal change project a community change project, each person bringing their sin into community, and together applying the gospel to the lies behind each sin. It was/is wonderfully liberating and renewing stuff. Thanks Tim!

  2. Hello Tim,

    I and a friend will be visiting London this Tuesday through Monday, and were interested in finding a church to attend on Sunday. I own the Total Church, and thus, “knowing” someone in the UK, am asking if you could refer us to a church in London we could visit. We will be staying in a hostel near the London Bridge. We’re also thinking of bringing a few of my friends’ nonchristian friends. Please send me a referral via my email –! :)
    Also, in an attempt to carry the American Thanksgiving holiday to London, we were high hoping that we could serve London for a morning, day, or evening. Not sure if this means serving a meal for the homeless or whatever, but if you have any contacts for that as well, maybe we can give it a long shot. I will have a working phone.
    Thank you!!! I hope to hear from you soon!!! We leave Tuesday daytime!

  3. Hi Tim, I am a regular follower of your blog, it is really shaping my thoughts.

    I was wondering if you could possibly send me some material that I could use for my housegroup for an evening looking at advent, either a reflection or a study, if you ahve done something already like that with your network.

    No worries if not.

    Many thanks, Wiggy

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