Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church

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Our world is marked by unprecedented degrees of multiculturalism, ethnic diversity, social shifts, international collaboration, and technology-driven changes. The changes are profound, especially when you consider the unchecked decline in the influence, size, and social standing of the church. There is an undercurrent of anxiety in the evangelical world, and a hunger for something new. And we’re sensing the urgency of it.

We need fresh, creative counterintuitive ways of doing ministry and church and leading it in the 21st century. We need to adapt. Fast. Both in our practices and our thinking.

The aim of this book is simple: When we understand the powerful forces at work in the world today, we’ll learn how something called The Third Culture can yield perhaps the most critical missing ingredient in the church today—adaptability—and help the church remain on the best side of history.

A Third Culture Church and a Third Culture Leader looks at our new global village and the church’s role in that village in a revolutionary way. It’s a way to reconnect with the historical roots of what Jesus envisioned the church could be—a people known for a brand of love, unity, goodness, and extravagant spirit that defies all conventions.

This book is part of the successful Leadership Innovation Series.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
Like it or not, the world is changing faster than the latest Intel Pentium chip can process. Some, like a child trying to stop the waves from reaching the beach, plant their feet in futile resistance. Some hope only to adapt and survive. But others want to become adept and thrive—ahead of the curve. Dave Gibbons is uniquely designed by God and given to the church for a time such as this. Any who are willing not just to ride the momentum but perhaps even to contribute to and shape the future need to read this book. It is for you! — Neil Cole, , Author

In The Monkey and the Fish, Dave Gibbons insightfully presses beyond marketing strategies to recapture God’s heart and purposes for the church: to love God by loving neighbors who aren’t just like us. This book is a much-needed reminder that the church was meant not merely to worship behind its walls but also to serve generously and graciously out in the world. — James Choung, , Author

This is …an important book. Its words come straight from the “gut” of the author, who strives to embrace third culture in every facet of his life. It will challenge you to be more daring for Christ. — Daniel S. Kim, , Pastor

Dave Gibbons masterfully demonstrates the need for the church to be the relevant, practical, bridge-building organism that God intended. I commend this compelling book to every person who has a passion for cultural relevancy and gracious authenticity. I was captivated from page one. — Dave Anderson, , Pastor

… Dave Gibbons asks some challenging, disturbing, yet empowering questions for leaders interested in impacting today’s global village with the love of Jesus. The Monkey and the Fish is full of honest and authentic reflections from Dave’s journey, which has led him to become a global thinker and an innovator impacting diverse cultures around the world. This is not a book to read if comfort and safety are your ultimate goals! — Scott Hodge, , Pastor

A beautifully honest insight to what the end-times generation church should be in this ever-changing world. Dave Gibbons aptly describes the need to be fluid like water, with the ability to take on any form without changing our purpose and to bring refreshment to the dry and thirsty. — Kong Hee, , Pastor

With grace, candor, and a great love for the church of Jesus, Dave Gibbons poses uncomfortable questions and brings inspiring perspective to the challenges facing the Western church…the experience of Dave and Newsong in learning to live this out is invaluable and makes this a practical book. I highly recommend it to you. — Mike Erre, , Pastor

Did Jesus really call his followers to change the world? …we must ask the painful question of why we haven’t changed the world more profoundly. The church is surely big enough, but it would seem that bigness is not the answer. Jesus often thought small. The Monkey and the Fish takes away our measuring sticks and helps us see where the power of churches to transform culture really lies. — Richard Stearns, , President

David Gibbons is one of those rare directional thinkers who sees things the rest of us don’t. Fortunately, he then speaks of these things in ways the rest of us can hear. We all know something new is appearing on the horizon. This book will help you perceive it more clearly for yourself. It will stretch your thinking, and then it will stretch your faith. — Gary Walter, , President

As a practitioner of reconciliation this book has given me renewed hope for the church! In “Monkey and the Fish” Dave Gibbons honestly shares his story with us and challenges us to go beyond our structural thinking and our old paradigms to rediscover the global vision and purpose of the Church. The strategies and principles in this book are counter-cultural and revolutionary. They show us how to engage the culture and in so doing, rediscover ourselves. This is a must read for anyone who wants to move from talking to dreaming to transformation! — Dr. Brenda Salter Mc Neil, , President


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Product Details

Meet the Author

Dave Gibbons is crazy about his beautiful, misfit family in New York City, Irvine, Los Angeles, Southeast Asia, China, India, Seoul, Mexico City, London, and Brazil. He’s a creative, futurist, activist, and strategist. Dave serves as an adviser to artists, business persons, and community development specialists throughout the world. He also is the Lead of a global alliance of churches and networks. He is the author of the award-winning book on culture and leadership, The Monkey and the Fish, and of XEALOTS. You can learn more about the XEALOT life at and Follow Dave at

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Table of Contents

Foreword 11

Preface 17

Acknowledgments 27

1 Liquid 31

2 Wardrobe 53

3 Neighbor 69

4 Liquid Bruce Lee 87

5 Three Questions That Become the Answers 109

6 cWoWs: Everyone Plays 125

7 Ripples 149

Conclusion 177

Becoming Third Culture: Practical Next Steps 189

Appendix On the Verge: An Interview with David Gibbons 205

Notes 217

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2009

    Praise for the Monkey and the Fish

    Don't read this book. Tear it open! Chew on it. Get it down no matter what it takes. Some of the flavors will be unfamiliar and some of the textures a little too gritty, but this is nourishing stuff. Dave Gibbons goes way beyond providing new ideas for ministry and instead challenges us to new ways of encountering, imagining, and living in the world. My life is likely to be a lot messier and hopefully way more faithful to Jesus after my collision with The Monkey and the Fish. -- Stephen Hayner, Professor of Church Growth, Columbia Theological Seminary <BR/><BR/><BR/>Dave Gibbons is an revolutionary thinker, a big dreamer, and a thought leader that we should all pay close attention to. I'm positive "Monkey and The Fish" will disrupt your current understanding of culture as it did mine. This is not simply a book but a brilliant field guide to the future. -- Mike Foster, President of Ethur Author of Deadly Viper Character Assassins <BR/><BR/>Can we really make a difference in today's culture? In The Monkey and the Fish, Dave Gibbons inspires Christ-followers to get outside their self-absorbed bubble and break the box of conformity. His challenging writing will move you to passionately seek opportunities to love God's people in an innovative way. -- Craig Groeschel, Pastor,, and author, It <BR/><BR/><BR/>Dave Gibbons thinks differently that the rest of us. With eyes wide open to the new global village in which we now live, he calls us to a new way of being the church, a third-culture way that stands in sharp contrast to big, brash, rich, and comfortable American-way churches. Dave is a reliable guide because he walks, courageously, the third-culture way. This is an important book which comes to us in the midst of tumultuous times, filled with stories, wisdom, and a challenge to be the people of God in this new world. -- Richard Peace, Fuller Theological Seminary <BR/><BR/><BR/>As an entrepreneur at heart and a person passionate about what is next, I resonate with Dave Gibbons. His innovative spirit has connected with a vision for what's next and resulted in The Monkey and the Fish, a book that looks at the world and the church in a revolutionary way. -- Bob Buford, Founder, Leadership Network, and author, Halftime <BR/><BR/><BR/>Like it or not, the world is changing faster than the latest Intel Pentium chip can process. Some, like a child trying to stop the waves from reaching the beach, plant their feet in futile resistance. Some hope only to adapt and survive. But others want to become adept and thrive--ahead of the curve. Dave Gibbons is uniquely designed by God and given to the church for a time such as this. Any who are willing not just to ride the momentum but perhaps even to contribute to and shape the future need to read this book. It is for you! -- Neil Cole, Author, Organic Church, Search and Rescue, and Organic Leadership <BR/><BR/><BR/><BR/><BR/>Dave has not given us another formula for Christian community and Christian leadership. Instead, he has given us a renewed vision of our calling. What the world needs most is the same thing that the church needs most--third-culture Christians. Anyone who wonders about the relevance of church--in their own lives or in the global community--should read The Monkey and the Fish. -- Bill Clark, Vice President of Development, International Justice Mission <BR/><BR/><BR/>Did Jesus really call his followers to change the world? ...we must ask the painful question of why we haven't changed the world more profoundly. The church is surely

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2008

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