Monday, September 20, 2010

Radical Abandon

So, maybe you haven't heard, but David Platt's book Radical is sweepin' the charts in Christian publishing these days. I finagled a free copy - again, with the promise that I would use it and tell others about it - and am about a third of the way in. Looks pretty solid to me. Seems like an authentic call to break free of the American dream and really follow Jesus. But it's also a fun read. Here's a bit from chapter 1.
"'The youngest megachurch pastor in history.'... the label given to me when I went to pastor a large, thriving church in the Deep South... From the first day I was immersed in strategies for making the church bigger and better. Authors I respect greatly would make statements such as 'Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it, whether that's five, ten, or twenty thousand members.' Soon my name was near the top of the list of pastors of the fastest-growing U.S. churches. There I was... living out the American church dream.

"But I found myself becoming uneasy. For one thing, my model in ministry is a guy who spent the majority of his ministry time with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 people who were actually sticking around and doing what he told them to do. More like a minichurch, really.

"So how was I to reconcile the fact that I was now pastoring thousands of people with the fact that my greatest example in ministry was known for turning away thousands of people? Whenever the crowds got big, he'd say something such as, 'Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.' ... I can almost picture the looks on the disciples' faces, 'No, not the drink-my blood speech! We'll never get on the list of fastest-growing movements if you keep asking them to eat you!'

"Jesus apparently wasn't interested in marketing himself to the masses. His invitations to potential followers were clearly more costly than the crowds were ready to accept, and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said radical things. And through their radical obedience to him, he turned the course of history in a new direction.

"Soon I realized I was on a collision course with an American church culture where success is defined by bigger crowds, bigger budgets, and bigger buildings. I was no confronted with a startling reality: Jesus actually spurned the things that my church culture said were most important. So what was I to do?"

Source: Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, by David Platt. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2010. pp. 1-2.

>> You can get the book from CBD for US$9.99.


Paul Merrill said...

Love that kind of thinking.

Marti said...

Me too!

Marti said...

I'm interested in the fact that they used the term "American" in the title. Since, in my own writing and publishing, I'm always a bit on guard against Americanism, my first thought was "Oh, that's too bad; Brits, Aussies, Singaporeans, won't pick up this book...." But I suspect the title also accounts for its popularity, here. We want to read it because it's a book about us. Also, books that "debunk" myths and assumptions are very popular here. That's also part of the American psyche.