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Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own
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Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  116 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Join us on a journey to find a faith of your own.
A faith that isn’t your parents’ or your youth pastor’s or your church’s.
Start from scratch, question everything, and get hold of a faith that’s real.
We call it firsthand faith.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 19th 2013 by WaterBrook (first published January 1st 2013)
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J.A.A. Purves
Jun 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own
Tired, old, stale, trite "your faith isn't yours if you don't make it yours" schlock, with constant nonstop repetition of 1970s "Jesus movement" era cliches. This book doesn't allow for any depth or sense of historical proportion or tradition. Instead it just means lots of self-referential talk and obsession (and also lots of insistence that, if you just follow their easy "Making It Real" action steps at the end of each chapter, your faith will really be relevant, authentic and ... real.

This is
Joel Jackson
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Ryan and Josh Shook have hit on an experience that I believe many have when truly experiencing faith. Many people have life crisis or challenges to their beliefs that cause them to doubt, turn away, or question the validity of their faith. It is then that people either realize the importance and value of struggle and doubt or just give up completely, never becoming true believers in Jesus Christ. What "Firsthand" provides is the assurance that it is alright to enter into periods of doubt and str ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Your parents raised you in a Christian family, they have shown you what a truly authentic and genuine relationship with God is. You follow their example, attend church, volunteer on the weekends, but something is missing. You can’t quite figure it out, but you know that something is missing.

Many of us live with a hand-me-down faith, we live the faith our parents have passed down to us, the faith that we have learned from each other, we know how we are supposed to act, how to look the part but ha
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
Did you ever feel like you were alone? Like you were the only one that felt like you were faking your faith? You are not! This book was such an encouragement to me. These two brothers remind all of us that have grown up in a Christian home that we are not the only ones who have struggled with our faith. They give practical advice for ditching our secondhand religion for a firsthand relationship with God.

I highly recommend this book.
Tiffany Nottingham
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often what we also fear more than anything else.- Frederick Buechner- page 46
pg. 51 when we refuse to get real with others, it is unloving to them. When we hide who we are from the people closest to us, it just downplays our relationship with them. When I try to stay at the surface level with my friends instead of going deeper and trying to find out what is really going on in their lives, I a
Kevin Sorensen
Apr 09, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm having a very difficult time knowing just what to say about this book. There are points I agree with.
I realize many, within a church, are disillusioned with their church. In the words of the authors, they are living a second-hand faith. Also, not every Christian is living a dynamic, radically driven, purpose-filled life, thus further disillusionment. True, there are many who read their Bibles and seem to get very little out of it.
I appreciate the brothers Shook in their efforts to stress the
Jennifer Wilson
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
FTC disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Firsthand is a quick but engaging read. What Ryan and Josh Shook have done in this book is take a look at how many Christians don’t “own” their faith, instead they rely on the faith of others. The surprising thing is many people don’t realize this. They have gone to church, participated in mission trips and everything else that “good Christians” do.

I wish this book was around when I was younger, b
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Who wants some pizza?"

Since the dawn of time, every youth pastor has proclaimed these words to their youth groups. But once the dodge ball game was over and the pizza was gone, the youth pastors would say something else.

"You must own your faith!" To be clear, this probably originated when Aaron the priest said this to Joshua.

"You will have to own your faith, Josh. After all, Moses goes along with too many things that his brother and sister do. It's gonna get him killed."

Every youth pastor has
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inspirational
Many months ago I was alerted to a new book in development, challenging those who have grown up in church to not settle for secondhand faith, but to boldly grasp for a deep and personal faith of their own. We're all aware of the statistics that show many young people are leaving the church and their faith after high school and college. Ryan and Josh decided they would try to address what is likely the root of this problem: young adults who know the "right" words to say and the "right" way to act ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013

Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook

Brothers Ryan and Josh Shook were raised in the Church, sons of a preacher. All they knew was their family’s Christian faith. Somewhere in their teens they began to question the authenticity of their personal beliefs. Did they really believe or were they simply worshipping God with their parents faith, a secondhand faith?

What followed was a time of searching, doubting, drifting, and lots of questions. They tell some stories about themselves during the time they we
Jennifer Clausen-greene
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
About the Book:

After years of going to church, following the rules, and trying to replicate the faith of their parents, pastors and the church, Ryan and Josh Shook realized something was fading fast in their souls. Firsthand is the disclosure of how they found faith on their own.
It’s a raw and honest confession that will challenge your students, young adults and church to start making their walk with God personal.
My Review: Fantastic and insightful book for those who are tired of the religion of
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
Read this in my youth group at church. Took us quite a while to reach the last chapter, but the timing was perfect.

This book taught me that my relationship with Jesus is much more than a mere religion. Growing up as a church-kid I was surrounded by God's love and constantly heard the stories from His word. But there comes a time when you're own personal beliefs and convictions separate from your parents. A time in which you must take your faith in your own hands, so to speak, and have a firstha
Laura Bowman
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook is a book for any person who is concerned with why the young people are leaving the church after graduation. I had the privilege of being on of the persons surveyed for this book, about a crisis time in my life.

Josh and Ryan are PK's, Preachers Kids, raised in a minister's home with the usual expectations of behavior and faith, how things were supposed to be. In time they realized they were going through the motions, following rules, keeping up appearances but we
Debra Ham
I listened to the audiobook and I'm sure that the book would have been much easier to digest and listen to nd if not been for the authors reading as if they were "reading". in my opinion, they read much more slowly than normal and it didn't flow as well as it could have. I've listened to several audiobooks over the passes few months and those that I enjoyed most had a conversational tone, S of you were talking to an old friend. I can't even comment on the content because it was so difficult to l ...more
Aug 23, 2013 rated it liked it
This book presented a view of the Christian faith that is often missed by mainstream elements of the faith. It describes the phenomenon of young people, raised in the church, who leave the church during the years transitioning from adolescence to adulthood and it provides guidance and recommendations for how such young people can discover their own firsthand faith. I like the fact that this book encourages young Christians to explore their doubts, because by finding the answers to their doubts, ...more
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Firsthand is the real deal. This book is not just another book about having a relationship with God. It is a living testimony that will reach inside you and arrest your heart with love and compassion. Ryan and Josh put the spotlight on their own lives in order to show us why having a relationship with God is so utterly important. The truth that they have poured into this book is very evident even before you reach the end of the first chapter. Their hearts have been burdened to reach out and touc ...more
Courtney Difruscio
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
As I read religious or spiritual books, one of the most important things to me is if the book was through provoking? Even if it was an idea I had or something I already knew, did it give me a fresh perspective on the subject or make me question something deeper? This book did not do that for me ... it felt shallow and predictable and did not cause me to stop and think terribly often. It was a good discussion book for our college small group, easily discussed even for those that did not read the ...more
Sherman Burkhead
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ryan and Josh Shook do a great job of tackling very real and very difficult issues facing teen and young adult Christians. This book is a very practical guide on how to move from knowing "about" Christ to a first hand knowledge of our Savior. The focus of the book is to help Christians move from stale religious practice to a vibrant up-close relationship with Jesus.

This is a very important and relevant subject.

The group study material bearing the same title is also top notch and will help to dr
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ryan and Josh Shook do a great job in this book challenging young adults to consider whether or not their faith is simply a hand-me-down faith from their parents or truly their own. You'll read two key words in this book - Firsthand or Secondhand. The first is a faith all our own. The second is simply us adopting what we have observed in our parents/grandparents/loved ones. The first will get you into Heaven. The second will simply get you into church.
This book is an easy read with a great chal
Pathway Midland
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook is about ditching a secondhand religion for a firsthand faith. Growing up in a Christian home, they both hit the point in their lives when they had to decide if they wanted to keep living the religion that their parents had handed down to them, the secondhand religion, or trade that in for a firsthand faith of their own. This book was an easy, interesting read, that kept me intrigued throughout the whole book. This book is perfect for teenagers struggling to find ...more
Barnabas Piper
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a hard book to rate because I can see why others would like it. The authors have a winsome, friendly tone. They write from a first person perspective which creates a sense of camaraderie with the reader. They seem to genuinely care about the reader. But I couldn't connect with it, myself. Maybe it was the writing style - sort of collegiate and enthusiastic. Maybe I wasn't the right audience. I am not entirely sure. It is not a bad book, but I did not come away feeling much.
Tim Ogle
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I gave this 5 Stars because the heart it was written with.
I didn't. agree with all of it. But it did challenge the audience it is written to. Where are you connected?
Where are you serving?
Are you going to participate firsthand or be a passive critic?

Thamnk God almighty for a generation who want to participate in life, not just spectate.

Do you have room for them in your church?

If not, send them my way. There is plenty of room in Christ 's.
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Growing up in a small, conservative Christian school I saw many examples of friends who believed they were Christians just because their parents were. Firsthand encourages young adults to be proactive in their faith and not settle for a hand-me-down faith. Ryan and Josh challenge the readers to ditch the to-do list type Christianity, ask questions, and get in a community that is attempting to do the same. I highly recommend it for young adults from high school to college age.
Steve Mahofski
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: don-t-own
I read this as part of a small group at church. The sessions ended up being worthwhile. The book, on the other hand, is often superficial and self congratulating. There is some worthwhile material here, but it isn't the dominant characteristic. Intended for a younger audience than the one I'm a member of. May work better for them.
Cody Doll
Apr 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
To be honest, I couldn't finish this book. They only ask vague questions with only smoked filled answers, in others words they don't have answers. I really was excited for the book but after 3 chapters of going no where and me have reading and looking through the smoke, I'd say pass. I'm sure there are much better Christian help book.
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a good book for those who have grown up in the church and are now looking to make their faith their own, firsthand instead of secondhand. Ryan and Josh share their experiences, a long process to genuine faith. This is a good book for the cynical or those new to Christianity. See my full review at
Michael Van gorp
Mar 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I really liked the fact that they set this book up to be something you study with others. It has great questions at the end of each chapter to discuss. However, I felt like the book was somewhat limited. It seemed to just scrape the surface level.
Alison Brown
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
This could have delved deeper in some areas, but I will be recommending it to teens who have grown up in the church like me and don't realize there will be a time of struggle in faith as they move out onto their own
Sep 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-book
Quick read aimed at young adults. I have read 2 books by their father, Kerry Shook. Obviously, runs in the family.
Apr 23, 2014 rated it liked it
The emphasis especially resonates with me as a needed challenge for teens from Christian homes.
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