2 April, 2023

The Duct Tape Letters (Book Review)

by | 31 January, 2023 | 0 comments

This book review of The Duct Tape Letters originally appeared in Common Grounds Unity’s January newsletter. It is reprinted here with permission of CGU and the reviewer. The Duct Tape Letters was written by Drew Baker, associate executive director of Common Grounds Unity; he also serves as a part-time minister and adjunct professor with Abilene Christian University. Baker’s article “A Homecoming of the Heart” will appear in Christian Standard’s May/June 2023 issue, which will focus on unity. 

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The Duct Tape Letters: An Unlikely Resource for Church Leadership 

By Drew Baker; self-published in July 2022 

Book review by Evan Foote 

I must admit, I simply couldn’t ignore this title. I had to buy a copy of The Duct Tape Letters just to see how it measured up to The Screwtape Letters by famed author C. S. Lewis. I’m a Lewis fan, and I love Screwtape. Would Drew Baker’s recently published homage be worthy of comparison to such an esteemed classic? 

To be sure, in the eight decades since Lewis wrote Screwtape, many authors have taken their turn in following his lead. But none of their titles quite tickled my fancy like Baker’s recent attempt. And Duct Tape did not disappoint. Quite honestly, I think any Christian, especially those in leadership positions, will learn many lessons from its pages.  

First, if you like the idea of learning theological truths in a downside-up way, you won’t be disappointed. Just like Lewis did in the 1940s, Baker calls attention to Christian discipleship, but from the opposing perspective. He achieves this by allowing us to read mail sent to the rookie demon, Duct Tape, from Grubworm, his more accomplished mentor. And even though we see only Grubworm’s side of the correspondence, we learn quite a lot about Duct Tape—and ourselves—by the evil advice in those letters. In this regard, The Duct Tape Letters is very much like Screwtape

But Baker adopts a new angle by focusing on corporate spiritual health rather than individual spiritual health.  

Drew Baker’s doctoral studies focused on healthy congregational leadership, and his wisdom about churches and church leadership comes through in the 13 letters (chapters) that Grubworm sends to Duct Tape. Of course, it’s all backwards. We read about the dangers of prayer, the delight of perfectly timed downfalls, the wonders of worldly distractions, the power of porn, etc. But this backwards look at discipleship is a fresh way of reminding us of the good old truths of the gospel. 

Each chapter in Duct Tape is followed by a straightforward and insightful discussion guide. The questions and prompts will help church leadership groups and small groups discuss and apply the solid principles hidden in the sinister correspondence. These 13 discussion guides are a great way for your elders team or small group to discuss key discipling issues.  

While Screwtape certainly continues to provide insights into 21st-century life, I appreciate how Duct Tape tackles many of the thorny topics unique to our current culture of pandemics, politics, and profane social media.  

Baker does not shy away from issues some church leaders may be hesitant to address. Not every congregation will agree on these issues, but all of us need to be able to discuss them openly and respectfully. In this regard, Baker has given us a great tool.  

After reading my e-book copy of The Duct Tape Letters, I bought a hard copy through Amazon to share with a pastor friend. I encourage you to read this book, as well. And if you are having trouble getting your personal or corporate spiritual disciplines to stick, you might want to apply some Duct Tape

Evan Foote is a founding pastor of the San Diego Common Grounds Unity gathering. He served as a pastor with Pomerado Christian Church in Poway, Calif., for over 40 years. 

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Common Grounds Unity is devoted to “creating spaces and communities where we can connect across the streams of the Stone Campbell Movement and beyond.” A $15.00 digital download of The Duct Tape Letters is available via this site; each copy purchased there serves as a donation to support author Drew Baker’s work as associate executive director of CGU. 


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