Book Review: The Third Option by Miles McPherson

Garrett Martin
April 20th, 2021

2020 was a rough year. It was a year that will be remembered. Youth groups across the country had to face the reality of how we talk to our students about racism. It was difficult. I reached out to some African-American friends and hosted a night where we had an open discussion about what was going on. At the root of that discussion was the love that God has for His creation and nobody is kept from that love. We need to have love for one another. I recommend the book The Third Option by Miles McPherson.  It assists youth pastors and volunteers to gain a better understanding of the climate and how to show the third option, the option of love.

Background of the Author

I was first introduced to Miles when he came and spoke at the college I was attending. He is a very dynamic speaker. Everything that he discussed and talked about was rooted in Scripture. Miles used to play football in the NFL where he spent several seasons playing for the San Diego Chargers in the 80s before founding The Rock Church in southern California in 2000. Currently the Rock Church has campuses all over southern California with Miles teaching out of the main campus in San Diego. Miles has also authored other books such as Do Something!, Make Your Life Count, and God in the Mirror. His latest book is The Third Option.

What Did I Learn?

This book was released in 2018 and referred to a lot of ugly moments around the world. I received this book as a birthday gift in 2020 and started reading it as a response to the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor shooting in Kentucky. Even though the book was two years old, the same issues are still raging today. As I was reading, there were incidents happening that I could relate to the book. My biggest takeaway from The Third Option was how we can have blind spots without realizing it. These blind spots are areas of our lives where we may treat somebody differently based on their race without realizing it. I was particularly challenged by the field trip challenges that he gave to people within his church. The challenge was to go to certain neighborhoods in their cities and experience something out of their comfort level. One individual went to an African-American church on a Sunday morning and the topic for that morning was race. She felt uncomfortable, but the message and the people responded with love and invitation. Another individual went to an African-American barber shop to get their haircut. He was the only white person in there, but they didn’t treat him any differently. In fact, he became a regular at the barber shop. This book caused me to ask myself, “Am I willing to go into neighborhoods that are different from me or have negative reputations and share the love of God with them?” Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to put aside our understanding and love people the way Jesus loves them?

Why Use It with Teens?

Our teens are aware of all of the racial tension going on around them. Often, society teaches that there are two sides: Us versus them. They need to know the value of the third option. The third option is to love on people and listen to them. To open up the conversation door and allow healing to take place. We can’t hear people when we’re talking. We can’t hear people when we’re too busy expressing our own opinion. Our students need to know that there is a third option and they need to know how to respond in these moments. Not to respond with violence or hatred, but to respond with love, grace and mercy. As you read through this book, take notes and incorporate them into your conversations with your church, your leadership and your students. Every church needs to know that the important message to share is not your political opinions, but the message of love towards everyone regardless of their age, gender, religion and race.

Bible App Reading Plan

There is a reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app with the same title. This reading plan comes up with videos. There are some great truths in this reading plan that are not in the book. If we want to encourage our students with a positive and peaceful message, then I would recommend sending them this reading plan. They can go through it by themselves, with friends, or with their family. Miles reaffirms that people need to be treated with respect and love, whether they’re your best friend or your worst enemy. The world has seen enough hate, let’s encourage the world with the Third Option.

Garrett Martin

Garrett has been the Youth Pastor at Redland Valley BIC Church in Lewisberry, PA, since 2016. He graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Pastoral Leadership & Biblical Exposition. Garrett and his wife currently live in Lancaster with their cat Lucy.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.