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Selling Water by the River: A Book about the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion That Gets in the Way Hardcover – October 16, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jericho Books; First Edition edition (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455522082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455522088
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,075,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews



"Really profound...helpful...inspiring."
Rob Bell, Author of Love Wins

"There are, in Hipps' SELLING, a sturdiness and brilliance and simplicity of theology and an accessible and God-drenched grace that make it the humblest, clearest, most comfortably compelling statement yet of the difference between "religious Christianity" and the Jesus way. In sum, this is one of the most instructive and pastoral books I have read in the last ten years and, Lord knows, one of the most needed."—Phyllis Tickle, Lecturer on Religion in America and Author of Emergence Christianity: What it Is, Where it is Going, and Why it Matters

"Shane Hipps brings us news that is too good not to be true: that what we thought we had to wait for, work for, strive for, reach for, fight for, die for, earn, learn, master, or attain is actually already a gift fully given in the present of this moment, graciously and freely ours if only we would awaken to it. This book not only offers us this good news with great clarity and delight; it also helps us-gently, wisely, simply, and profoundly-to be roused and raised into that blessed state of awe and awakening."—Brian D. McLaren, author of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? (

"Masterfully weaving story, metaphor, and scripture into a tapestry, Shane Hipps puts his finger on something we all long for: a connection with the Divine. SELLING WATER BY THE RIVER will be a wonderful discovery for the many people who feel that true spirituality has been corrupted by culture and religion."—Tony Jones ( is a theologian and the author of many books, including The New Christians

"This book is one of the flare-ups from that religionless Christianity that more and more is breaking out in our world. Some of us will flee from what Shane Hipps tries to tell us in this book. Others will find what he has to say helpful in their efforts to live out the Jesus lifestyle in the landscape of a post-modern world. Whatever your reactions might be you will find the words on these pages cannot be ignored."—Tony Campolo, Eastern University

"Shane Hipps manages to take your beliefs and assumptions about God and the Bible and artfully, yet mercilessly wrings them out, leaving behind whatever drips to the floor, (the things that never belonged in there anyhow), then shakes them out and shows them to you again now free from what had clung to them -and before you is something beautiful, true, new and familiar."—Nadia Bolz-Weber, Founding Pastor, House for all Sinners and Saints

"Shane Hipps offers us a compelling and life-giving reminder that the work and life of Jesus is not identical to what we know to be Christianity. Without falling into cynicism or mere critique Shane invites us to encounter a wild ride with Jesus. The fruit of reconsidering the gospel in light of full humanity-his and our own-is like being given a refreshing IPA after a long dusty hike. Let the breath of God blow you into new wonder and hope."—Dan B. Allender, Ph.D., Professor of Counseling Psychology and Founding President, The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology

About the Author

Shane Hipps is the former lead teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. Previously he served for five years as the lead pastor of a Mennonite church in Phoenix, AZ. He is a graduate of Fuller Seminary, the result of a self-termed "Damascus" experience. Before accepting his call as a pastor, he was a strategic planner in advertising for the multimillion dollar communications plan for Porsche. It was here that he gained expertise in understanding media and culture.

Hipps is a sought-after speaker and author of Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith, and The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, The Gospel, and Church. Find videos, podcasts, downloadable resources and more at, or follow him on Twitter @shanehipps.

Customer Reviews

This book is easy to read but has an amazing amount of depth.
V. Thomas
He says that the lens Jesus looked through was "love God and love your neighbor as your self".
R. Spurlock
If you want to look beyond what you think you know, this is the book for you.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By AllyMonkey on December 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the most refreshing book I have read in months.
I am a natural born doubter, one of my most pressing questions being "If I were born in the Middle East, I would probably be a Muslim, wouldn't I?" I search desperately for spiritual truth, and I really really want to believe in Jesus, but many Christians have told me that I have to believe that Jesus is the only way to God, and that any other "way" to God is a blasphemous lie, that I should believe that committing one sin (!!!) causes me to deserve eternal punishment, etc. I have found many dogmas of traditional Christianity too hard to swallow...
and then I read this book. Shane shows you through beautiful, relevant metaphors that you don't have to adopt all the teachings of traditional Christianity, in order to come to Jesus. Just Jesus- not all the trappings of Christian culture and Christian dogma, etc. Many Christian denominations will tell you what the requirements are, before you can meet Jesus... Shane says that Christian denominations are packaging up water and selling it by the river- when you could just walk up to the river yourself, and partake.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Kenney on February 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Shane Hipps was most recently the teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids. He started his vocational life in advertising where he worked with Porsche and other high end brands. Eventually, he felt compelled to leave it all and attend seminary in California. After graduating, Shane became the lead pastor of a small Mennonite church in Arizona. Shane is most known for having written a few books; Flickering Pixels and The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture.

Most recently, Shane has authored "Selling Water by the River." The title comes from Shane's premise that we should never confuse `Christ' with `Christianity.' One is the river (Christ) and one is the "religion that attempts to package and provide access to water that is readily available to anyone at any time." (pg 6)

This book has a nice big font and so becomes a quick and easy read. If you are familiar with Shane's preaching style, this book is very similar. Shane uses lots of examples from his own life and typically he finds his topic and surrounds it well with a visual "idea" that he repeats through metaphor.

In this book, Shane is certainly in his wheel house. As a former advertiser who knows what is is to market and sell a product, Shane uses comparison to tie in the ways we as Christians market Jesus to the world. Much like his Mars Hill predecessor, Rob Bell, Shane reminds his readers that things like `eternal life' and `heaven' begin now and should be lived for now and not in some far off distant future when you die.

This is a good book with a question that sticks with you long after you put it down, "how is Christianity getting in the way of Christ?" Once again, Shane doesn't disappointing, I highly recommend this read.

Thank you to Jericho books for providing me with a review copy for a fair and honest review.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Conscious Historic Orthodox on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Refreshing distinctions between the original Jesus and the distorted version we often go by!

Sadly, many so called defenders of the evangelical faith are just repeating medieval interpretations instead of investigating the non-institutionalized truth presented and lived by Jesus. One needs to be willing to look at the historical context and the overall emphases, rather than isolate a verse out of context with the intend to defend a point that negates God's intend vividly shown around the same verse.

The author likes to dig into the original text and what the audience at the time understood from it. If one is not threaten by truth, one should not be afraid to talk about it without having to bully those who wish to explore it. The author doesn't shy away from exploring the implications of Jesus message.

"Two different kinds of joy exist. And they are often easily mistaken for each other. One kind of joy comes from the world outside, and another joy comes from the kingdom inside. The inner joy is completely independent of everything else that happens on the outside. It's easy to confuse these two." (page 122)
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Greg Smith (aka sowhatfaith) on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading and reviewing Flickering Pixels back in 2009 then leading an adult discussion group a few weeks ago using the Hipps' session in the new Animate materials, I had high expectations for his latest book. Unfortunately, while it was worth reading, it didn't come close to reaching my lofty hopes. It did, however, include the stories Hipps relates in Animate.

Selling Water by the River is a collection of stories by a master marketer and seasoned story teller designed to help followers of Jesus overcome the increasing gap between the way of Jesus and the sensibilities of modern day Christianity. At its best, many of the short stories are cleverly linked to actionable ways to live into one's faith. At its worst, a heavy reliance on the idea of the many lenses through which people view reality and multiple excursuses focused on biblical terminology left this reader feeling like he had read a series of articles of varying quality rather than a single cohesive text.

Readers of the book (and viewers of the Animate lesson) will be challenged to live faithfully each and every day, as long as this life lasts with a recognition that the kingdom isn't primarily about the next life or eternal life, but rather the here and now. Put differently, Hipps invites readers to consider this life as the main course rather than merely an appetizer for what is to come.
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