Our greatest need is to be recognized—to be seen, loved, and embedded in rich relationships with those around us. But for the last century, we’ve displaced that need with the ease of technology. We’ve dreamed of mastery without relationship (what the premodern world called magic) and abundance without dependence (what Jesus called Mammon). Yet even before a pandemic disrupted that quest, we felt threatened and strangely out of place: lonely, anxious, bored amid endless options, oddly disconnected amid infinite connections. But there is a way out of our impersonal world. The social innovations of the early Christian movement, and the efforts of entrepreneurs working to create more humane technology today, show how we can restore true community and put people first in a world dominated by money, power, and devices. There is a way out of our impersonal world, into a world where knowing and being known are the heartbeat of our days, our households, and our economies.
With warmth and erudition, The Life We're Looking For engages readers in a personal meditation on the hidden costs of our technological dreams. What are we not seeing, hearing, tasting, experiencing because we have partnered with devices? Crouch asks us to summon the intelligence, resolve, and faith to regain lost ground.
—Sherry Turkle, MIT professor, author of Reclaiming Conversation
A fascinating and eye-opening book on the need to discover what might, perhaps, be called the Holy Ghost in the machine.
— Tom Holland, author of Dominion
As I read this breathtaking book, I was surprised to find myself tearing up often, not because it is a book about tragedy or loss, but because Andy Crouch, perhaps more than any other writer of our day, perceives and names the deepest and most vulnerable longings of the human heart. The Life We're Looking For describes the confusion and contradictions of our cultural moment in clear and resonant ways and, more important, offers hope that we might find a beautiful way of living amidst them.
—Tish Harrison Warren, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night
The Life We're Looking For is, and this is saying something, Andy Crouch’s best book: a deeply moving meditation on the human need to find true personhood, which means, among other things, to know as we are known. Strong and cogent critiques of Mammon’s empire—which, as Crouch shows, is where we live—are not unheard of, but a book that goes this deeply into the heart of things, into the heart of God, is a pearl of great price.
—Alan Jacobs, author of How to Think and Breaking Bread with the Dead
Making good choices about technology is more than just using internet filters and limiting “screen time.” It’s about developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way we use digital media, rather than accepting technology’s promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. And it’s definitely not just about the kids. What started with the best-selling book The Tech-Wise Family is now a set of resources to help parents, teens, churches, and teams reclaim real life in a world of devices. Andy’s daughter Amy Crouch contributes her own distinctive 19-year-old voice in My Tech-Wise Life, and a video series helps groups think through their own choices together. In partnership and with original research from Barna Group.
A vision for family life and faith and character so compelling and inspiring that it made me weep, made me reconsider many aspects of our home, made me profoundly thankful for this beautiful and important book.
— Shauna Niequist, author of Present over Perfect and Bread & Wine
If you aren't sure how to put technology in its 'proper place' in your home, Andy will guide you and challenge your thinking.
— Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker; lead pastor, National Community Church
Andy's message and model have strengthened our commitment to use technology to unite—and not divide—our family.
— Kara Powell, executive director, Fuller Youth Institute; coauthor of Growing Young
Two common temptations lure us away from abundant living—withdrawing into safety or grasping for power. True flourishing travels down an unexpected path: being both strong and weak. We see this unlikely mixture in the best leaders—people who use their authority for the benefit of others, while also showing extraordinary willingness to face and embrace suffering. We see it in Jesus, who wielded tremendous power yet also exposed himself to hunger, ridicule, torture and death. Rather than being opposites, strength and weakness are actually meant to be combined in every human life and community. Only when they come together do we find the flourishing for which we were made.
This book is going to have a profound impact on our world. It's built on a clear, deep, life-changing insight that opens up vast possibilities for human flourishing. Classic, elegant and utterly illuminating.
— John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, author of Soul Keeping
An intellectually insightful, socially relevant and prophetically passionate book that shows us how to multiply our power to create a world where people from every tribe and nation can flourish and reach their full God-given potential. I love it!
— Brenda Salter McNeil, Seattle Pacific University, author of Roadmap to Reconciliation
One of the most anticipated books among thoughtful and widely aware Christian readers. It certainly will be one of our Best Books of 2016.
— Byron Borger, Hearts and Minds Books
The Messiah wrapped in a servant’s grimy towel is not giving up power. He is restoring it to its original purpose, cleansed of its distortions—the power to love a lovely and loveless world to the uttermost. None of his power is reserved for carefully guarding privilege or meticulously accounting for status; every bit of it is poured into this one end.
Playing God, p. 166
The pace of technological change has surpassed anyone’s capacity to develop enough wisdom to handle it. We are stuffing our lives with technology’s new promises, with no clear sense of whether technology will help us keep the promises we’ve already made.
The Tech-Wise Family, p. 17
Precisely because our power is the result of genuine image bearing, . . . the human hunger for power is insatiable. . . . It is not wrong to want to “expand our territory” (in the words of the Old Testament figure named Jabez). But the more our territory expands, the more we must embrace the disciplines that make room on the margins for others to also exercise their calling to image bearing.
Playing God, p. 248
The devices we carry to bed to make us feel connected and safe actually prevent us from trusting in the One who knows our needs and who alone can protect us through the dangers and sorrows of any night.
The Tech-Wise Family, p. 118
What we truly admire in human beings is not authority alone or vulnerability alone—we seek both together.
Strong and Weak, p. 47
Power corrupts—as we’ve seen time and time again. People too often abuse their power and play god in the lives of others. Shady politicians, corrupt executives and ego-filled media stars have made us suspicious of those who wield influence and authority. They too often breed injustice by participating in what the Bible calls idolatry. Yet power is also the means by which we bring life, create possibilities, offer hope and make human flourishing possible. This is “playing god” as it is meant to be. If we are to do God’s work—fight injustice, bring peace, create beauty and allow the image of God to thrive in those around us—how are we to do these things if not by power?
Perhaps no question with such urgent life-and-death consequences is more poorly understood among Christians in our era than the stewardship of power; but gloriously, in Playing God, Andy Crouch provides the clarity we need in this once-in-a-generation work of sweeping theological and sociological depth. It is fresh, rigorous, profoundly helpful and a delight to read.
—Gary A. Haugen, President and CEO, International Justice Mission
Once again, Andy Crouch cuts to the heart of the matter by challenging us to take seriously the One whose image we bear. Playing God is a clear and compelling call for Christians to steward the kind of power that enables flourishing.
— Gabe Lyons, coauthor of UnChristian
Andy Crouch presents an essential treatise on one of the most important yet undiscussed topics for the promotion of justice in American Christianity--the issue of power. The work of God's justice in the world requires an understanding of the dynamics of power. Crouch shines the light of Scripture on what could be a divisive topic. Playing God should spark this long overdue conversation.
—Soong-Chan Rah, author of The Next Evangelicalism
It is not enough to condemn culture. Nor is it sufficient merely to critique culture or to copy culture. Most of the time, we just consume culture. But the only way to change culture is to create culture. For too long, Christians have had an insufficient view of culture and have waged misguided “culture wars.” But we must reclaim the cultural mandate to be the creative cultivators that God designed us to be. Culture is what we make of the world, both in creating cultural artifacts as well as in making sense of the world around us. By making chairs and omelets, languages and laws, we participate in the good work of culture making.
Are Christians to be countercultural? Or protect ourselves from 'the culture'? Or be 'in' culture but not 'of' it? In this bracing, super-smart book, Andy Crouch changes the terms of the conversation, calling Christians to make culture. I am hard-pressed to think of something that twenty-first-century American Christians need to read more.
—Lauren F. Winner, Duke Divinity School
"Then Andy Crouch wrote a book called Culture Making / And I knew I had to make a slight change"
I’m loving your book. Parts of it are making me jump out of my skin. Molting, I think it’s called.
—Alf, composer and musician living in New York City
If you’re a Christian, you don’t have “a calling.” You have three. Two of the three are fundamental and universal—that is, they aren’t optional and they aren’t individual, but they are by far the most important callings in your life. The good news (and hard news, actually) is they each come with a community who can help you fulfill them—in fact, without that community you won’t fulfill them at all. Your first fundamental calling is shared with every other human being: to bear the image of God. We are here to reflect the Creator into the creation, and to reflect the creation’s praise and lament back to the Creator. To bear the image is to exercise dominion, caring for and cultivating the good world and making it very good through our creative attention. Most human work falls under this heading, which is why Christians work gladly alongside neighbors who don’t share our faith, and also why almost all human work is perfectly appropriate for Christians. It requires no more justification than this: bearing the image by working fruitfully in the good world is what we were always meant to do.
An entrepreneur, in essence, is a process innovator with a high tolerance for risk—someone who is willing, or indeed driven, to find a new way to live and work in the world while accepting the possibility or even probability that their new way could fail. At Praxis we focus on three axes of entrepreneurship . There can be risk-tolerant process innovation in the area of strategy, the goods and services we aim to produce in order to create and capture value, and equally often in the axis of operations, the processes and systems we deploy to see that strategy enacted. But in many ways, the most fundamental axis is that of leadership, or the deep story by which founders and builders live and make their most important choices. That deep story is at the root of process innovation. So often, strategy and operations emerge out of the entrepreneur’s own imagination, rooted in explicit and implicit dreams and assumptions about the direction of our life. While our society tends to notice and celebrate the innovations in strategy and operations that entrepreneurs bring into being, reshaping our inner story is, in a sense, the ultimate process innovation — and because we generally have very good reasons for holding on to the stories we have been living by, any dramatic change in one’s inner story always involves an element of risk.
I was listening to a “modern worship” song this week when a bunch of things clicked at once. If you spend any amount of time in churches that have a notable proportion of people under the age of 40, you have heard this genre of music. The chords are simple, the melodies are exceedingly singable (except when the lead singer takes them up an octave into a range only reachable by professional voices), the sentiments are sincere, and the lyrics are brief. I actually love some of these songs. Like all genres, modern worship has individual examples of real quality, and the one I was listening to (Elevation’s 2018 song “Worthy”) has a lot of merit on its own terms. I would gladly lead a congregation in it myself. But as I sang along with the recording, I couldn’t help feeling, not for the first time, that on its own it was incomplete and just a bit thin.
Effortless power is a defining feature of what we began, roughly 150 years ago, to call “modern” life. In countless domains, technology has equipped human beings to vastly increase the sensation of strength while vastly reducing the sensation of effort. A world-class weightlifter is physically powerful, but anyone can see that performing an Olympic deadlift requires tremendous physical, mental and even emotional strain, prepared for by years of training. Someone operating a forklift, on the other hand, can lift far more weight than any athlete with almost no exertion at all. The sensation of extraordinary capacities without effort has a name, long applied to comic book heroes but now available to all of us: superpowers. Social media, for example, has given almost everyone a taste of the kind of recognition and affirmation that used to be available only to a handful of movie stars and television personalities. From Facebook to Instagram to the latest app on a 15-year-old’s home screen, a series of platforms have granted us low-friction relationships, along with highly visible cues of our status and standing with others. They have given us recognition and influence at a distance: social superpowers.
This afternoon I read a report from Christianity Today, where I worked and had leadership roles from 2005 to 2016, on instances of harassment experienced by women there over many years. I feel great grief for the experiences described in the report, and above all for the fact that they follow a consistent pattern. I feel remorse that I shared responsibility for sustaining an environment where such behavior could happen without being promptly and fully addressed.
Here is a truth that is incredibly hard to put into practice: the more the world is in apparent crisis, the less benefit you get from the news. In fact, the more you live in a time of apparent crisis, the more you need deep reading — mostly books. Conversely, the more you live in a time of apparent calm, the more you need to be carefully paying attention to “the news.” I say “apparent” crisis and calm because from a Christian point of view, the world is always in crisis (Greek krisis, “judgment”) — always under God’s judgment and always full of urgent threats to true flourishing. And from a Christian point of view, even in the moments of greatest chaos, we have access to peace that surpasses understanding, such that we never need to live in anxiety or fear.
An Invitation to the Tech-Wise Family Challenge 21 days to try a new way of living. — the Barna Group Blog, 7 January 2019
Why I’m Joining Praxis Building a community of redemptive entrepreneurs. — andy-crouch.com, 1 March 2018
A Magical Scenario Apple is set to announce the "Siri speaker." What might happen in a home that embraces this amazing device?
On “Thoughts and Prayers” After Another Mass Shooting Prayer—and lament—is the proper first response to tragedy. — Christianity Today, 3 December 2015
Finally, Beloved, Whatever. A commencement address at Houghton College in May 2015.
Small Screens, Big World Easter in Florence, the fiction of Mark Helprin, and a Lent without glowing rectangles. — andy-crouch.com, 8 April 2015
Abraham Kuyper Goes Pop A brilliant new film series pictures how to live out our salvation. — Christianity Today
Apple Watch: To Wear It Like a Man—or a God? According to Apple, this is technology that 'embraces individuality and inspires desire.' What could possibly go wrong? — Time Magazine online, 10 September 2014
Life Together, Again After Hobby Lobby, vibrant corporate life is needed more than ever. — Christianity Today, September 2014
The Uncanny Valley of Death Heroic medical procedures can leave us in a limbo between life and accepting what's beyond. — Time Magazine, 20 January 2014
The Real Problem With Mark Driscoll’s “Citation Errors” And it isn’t plagiarism. — Christianity Today, 10 December 2013
A World Without Jobs The gospel of a secular age. — Culture Making, 18 January 2011
Why I Charge So Much, and So Little, to Speak — Culture Making, 24 August 2011
Finally Real A birthday thank-you note. — Culture Making, 9 February 2010
The Pleasures and Perils of Fermentation Alcohol, shame, nakedness, and grace.
Being Culture Makers An interview with "StudentSoul." — StudentSoul.org, January 2007
Culture, Power, and Worship A conversation with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.
On the Journey to Greatness Jonah, Jeremiah, Jeff, and the impact of faithfulness.
Instant Messages Christian fiction in a virtual world. — Address to the Christy Awards banquet for Christian fiction, 9 July 2005
The Emergent Mystique The ‘emerging church’ movement has generated a lot of excitement but only a handful of congregations. Is it the wave of the future or a passing fancy? — Christianity Today, November 2004
Eating the Supper of the Lamb in a Cool Whip Society Albert Borgmann’s post-technological feast. — Books & Culture, January/February 2004
Roaring Lambs or Bleating Lions? — re:generation quarterly 6.4
For People Like Me The myth of generations. — re:generation quarterly, Fall 1999
Andy Crouch is partner for theology and culture at Praxis, a venture-building ecosystem advancing redemptive entrepreneurship. His writing explores faith, culture, and the image of God in the domains of technology, power, leadership, and the arts. He is the author of five books (plus another with his daughter, Amy Crouch): The Life We're Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, and Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling.
Andy serves on the governing board of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. For more than ten years he was an editor and producer at Christianity Today, including serving as executive editor from 2012 to 2016. He served the John Templeton Foundation in 2017 as senior strategist for communication. His work and writing have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and several editions of Best Christian Writing and Best Spiritual Writing—and, most importantly, received a shout-out in Lecrae's 2014 single "Non-Fiction."
From 1998 to 2003, Andy was the editor-in-chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine for an emerging generation of culturally creative Christians. For ten years he was a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. He studied classics at Cornell University and received an M.Div. summa cum laude from Boston University School of Theology. A classically trained musician who draws on pop, folk, rock, jazz, and gospel, he has led musical worship for congregations of 5 to 20,000. He and his wife, Catherine, raised two children and live in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
For information on booking Andy to speak, please see this page.