Monthly Archives: October 2011

Radical Together by David Platt


It is hard at times to put into words what one really feels in regards to certain things, be it a book, a movie, a Broadway play, or even an orchestra. These things are definitely great things to certain people and yet sometimes when asked what they thought of it, they find themselves at a loss for words. They do not really know how to describe what they just saw. They will use words such as “great”, “magnificent” or “awesome.” Some might even go so far as to say it was “breathtaking.” All the while the person who asked the question is trying to picture in their mind what is meant. However, even if that one person were to ask yet another attendee of the same event, they would get a different answer. This all comes down to the different tastes that each individual holds.

This is what I am struggling with right now. How to give a review of this book that will do it justice. I read David Platt’s first book Radical and felt it was a great call to the church today to reevaluate their lives and to take a deeper look to see what they could do without in their lives in order to take the Gospel to the world and to represent Christ to a dying world. In this follow up book, Platt once again gives a great challenge to the church here in the United States of America. He centers the whole book on the idea of “Unleashing the people of God for the purpose of God.” (Taken from the front of the book) Is that not the whole idea behind the church in the first place? To be living completely and fully for the purpose of God? There are so many quotes in this book that would be worthy of a place in this review and ones that would leave you challenged.

One quote that really stood out to me with how I lead the youth group at Journey Church in Roanoke, VA was this one: “Discussions in the church more often revolve around what we want than what He wills.” (Italics added, p. 105) I definitely feel this is the case in many churches around this nation. We have centered our thoughts more around what we think will help reach more people than actually asking God to show us what will reach people. We spend more time discussing and debating what we should or should not change in our services and how we do church than we spend asking God to clearly show us what we should do. We spend more time trying to figure out how to help people change their lives than we spend on our faces asking God to change lives. Since when did the church become about us and our tastes rather than all about God and speaking His Word? The church is supposed to be all about God and yet we allow trivial things to distract us and keep us from the sole purpose of the church, which is to equip people to live for the glory of God and to unleash them into the world to take the Gospel to the World. Another quote I love from this book that flies right in the face of how many churches are trying to “do church” is this:

“The goal of the church is never for one person to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ. The goal is always for all God’s people to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ.” (p. 57)

And another one:

“Our people are going to be equipped to show new believers how to live as followers of Christ, I want people in the church to be able to fulfill the purpose for which they were created without being dependent on gifted preachers, nice buildings, and great programs to do it for them.” (p. 56)

Personally, I believe that The Church at Brook Hills, under God’s leading, is truly on their way to becoming the unstoppable church that is mentioned in Acts. They are looking into every possible way to make sure God gets the glory and that God’s Spirit has all the freedom necessary to move in the hearts and lives of everyone who enters the doors. Platt is extremely careful to not promote himself or what is going on at Brook Hills and to make sure that the reader understands that he is far from perfect. He wants readers to know that they still make mistakes and still have a long ways to go in becoming the church they feel God would be honored by. Yet at the same time, they are setting a great example.

I strongly believe that David Platt’s book Radical Together is a call to the church as a whole to get back to the Word. Step away from your own ideas and look into the Word alone for how to reach the world with the Gospel. God does not need our help in coming up with ideas of how to reach people. He gave us everything we need; it is basically up to us to take His Word and to proclaim it. When that happens, people’s lives will be changed. I believe this book is a great read for any church leader, pastor or volunteer. It points people to the Word which should be the center of how we do everything. If you have not yet read this book, I strongly recommend it.

 

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program


Why do You go to Church?

Why do you go to church?

I have been reading through the book Radical Together by David Platt over the last couple days and it is full of challenges that I feel any church should take the time to read through. Platt uses a humble and honest approach to really call into question the way we “do” church. Here is an excerpt from his book that I hope will speak to you as it did to me:

What if growing the church was never intended to depend upon creating a good performance with all the right people on the stage? Where did we get the idea that this was necessary? Certainly Scripture instructs us to gather for worship. This is nonnegotiable but not necessarily in the way we usually think about it.

Imagine being in a church on the other side of the world where it is illegal for the church to even exist. You wait until midnight, when everyone else in the village is asleep, to quietly leave your house. Under the cover of darkness, you sneak down winding roads and past silent houses, looking around every corner make sure no one is following you. You know that if you or anyone else from your church is caught, you may never see your home again. For that matter, you may never see the light of day again.

Yet you continue on until you round a bend, and there you see a small house with a faint light emanating from it. Checking one last time to make sure you have not been tailed, you slip inside. There you are greeted by a small band of brothers and sisters who have made the same long trek. As you look at their weary but expectant faces, you realize something: Not one of them has come because a great communicator has been scheduled to speak. Not one is present because a cool band is scheduled to play. No, all are there simply because they desire to gather with the people of God, and they are willing to risk their lives to be together.

Performance has nothing to do with it. People have everything to do with it. (taken from pages 58-59)

How could you handle that? Why are you going to church? Is it for the production? Or is it for the message of Jesus Christ and to hear the Gospel and the Word of God taught and also because you love fellow believers in Christ and long for fellowship with them? Would you go to church if this is what you had to do and with the possible cost being your very life? It’s not very convenient, but then again, being a Christian is never convenient.

This was such an encouragement and a challenge to me. It was a reminder of how well I have it here and I am so thankful for that. This was a challenge though to be praying all the harder for my brothers and sisters around the world.


Leading On Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

 

Wayne Cordeiro speaks from experience in this book. When I ordered this book, I knew I was not quite in the place where it would speak directly to my current situation. After reading it, I know that I am not anywhere close to experiencing burnout but this book helped me understand how important balancing your life is. I am glad I read this book and recommend it to any pastor or spiritual leader, or anyone who leads a hectic life. As someone who in the future desires to plant a church if the Lord so leads, this book was a great read and well worth my time.

Wayne jumps right in to this book with his own personal story of burnout which definitely draws the reader in. As you continue to read, Wayne shares story after story of pastors and spiritual leaders who have broken down from high expectations and not maintaining balance in their lives. Pastors many times attempt to be superman to their congregation and yet fail to see the true affect it has on their families and personal lives as well. They feel that since they are in the ministry, that what they are doing is blessed by God and therefore He will give them the strength they need to minister to everyone in their church because that is what a pastor is called to do. However, they fail to realize that this is not the plan God has in mind for any pastor or person in spiritual leadership. Even Moses himself had limits and had to find a way to set in motion a model of leadership over the people of Israel because it was too much for him to handle on his own. If Moses struggled with this, why do so many feel that it does not apply to them?

One of my favorite parts of the book was the challenge to have a personal Sabbath. Christians today have strayed far from this command in the Bible of practicing the Sabbath and it is taking its toll on the church. Christians are constantly going, just like the world, and we feel that if we take a day to rest, we will fall behind. However, having a day of rest is actually one of the best things that a person can do. So often when people get worn down, a doctor will encourage the person to rest. This is the natural way that God set in motion. He knew what we are capable of and He knows our limits, thus God Himself modeled for us a day of rest when after finishing creation, He rested. God did not need to rest but He knew that we do and thus He gave us the example. However, we have far removed ourselves from that day of rest. Families fill their schedules with so much, Bible studies, kid’s soccer games, social events, ministries, etc. These in and of themselves are not bad, but when it takes us away from having time to rest and truly think about God and allow Him to recharge our lives, we head towards burnout. And this is not just in the pastorate either; it is the same with everyone. Too often we choose caffeine over rest to recharge. Yet that just leads us further along towards burnout.

With Leading on Empty, Wayne takes great care to challenge us to look at our lives and take inventory of them. Are we heading down the path towards burnout? If so, what can we do to stop it? What needs more balancing? And many times, that is what it comes down to, finding balance within our busyness and then taking the time to reorder our lives and then live within those priorities. It is hard, especially when “duty calls” but it is necessary. If you are burned out, you have nothing to offer. Wayne Cordeiro does a great job of showing how when a pastor burns out, it affects his life, his family and his ministry. When a pastor is empty himself, how can he fill others and challenge them? A pastor has to lead by example and this in many areas is what this book is about.

I highly recommend this book to any pastor or lay leader within the church and feel that it will be greatly beneficial in helping keep someone from burning out. After reading this book, I personally feel that I am more in a position to ensure that this does not happen within my own life and I feel that anyone who reads this book will feel that way as well.

 

 In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.