[Editor’s Note: This post by Matthew Boutte from WalkingwiththeWord.com is part of a conversation sponsored by the Patheos Book Club on David Platt’s new book Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God.]
Where Radical focused on changing the way we think about our lives as Christians, Radical Together focuses on changing the way we “do church.” I have often suspected that many of our churches aren’t the strongholds of the Gospel that they could be, but instead are mere country clubs with bad golf courses. Mr. Platt’s new book confirms that in spades and suggests a model that is not only more effective but is also more consistent with the Gospel itself.
Of particular interest is the hard look Mr. Platt takes at programming in our churches asserting that, “you and I can easily deceive ourselves into thinking that dedication to church programs automatically equals devotion to kingdom purposes. We can fill our lives and our churches with good things requiring our resources and good activities demanding our attention that are not ultimately best for the enjoyment of the gospel in our churches and the spread of the gospel in our communities. We must be willing to sacrifice good things in the church in order to experience the great things of God.” Later in the book he asks, “Is it really possible to have all the trappings of the church and yet miss the heart of Christ? Is it possible for church people to be so focused on personal comforts and so fearful of the potential cost that they virtually forget the purpose of God among the peoples of the world?” Ideas and questions like these are going to make some people uncomfortable but Mr. Platt and I agree that it is a risk that needs to be taken.
Another challenging but important section of the book dives into the way American churches tend to view discipleship. Using examples from the Church at Brook Hills, the church Mr. Platt pastors, he describes a model of ordained and lay leaders discipling small groups of people who in turn disciple new groups of believers, and so on, ultimately taking the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. It’s a model that has been suggested by countless other church leaders but is equally supported by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. As Mr. Platt illustrates, “God has given leaders to the church to equip God’s people for ministry and ‘prepare God’s people for works of service.’”
My one criticism of the book is that Mr. Platt makes excessive references to his first book. Either Radical Together stands on its own or it doesn’t and referring readers to another book seems a little self-serving. It’s a small point however, as the book doesindeed stand on its own.
Radical Together raises important questions about the way many American churches carry out the Gospel and suggests several ways we could all become more effective, indeed more Christ-like. The book is written for people in positions of church leadership but those who choose to read it should be prepared to face questions about how and why they “do church”. But for those who are not content to accept what they’ve always done as being good enough for God, Radical Together is worth reading.
Matthew Boutte shares reflections on the weekly lectionary texts at his blog Walking With The Word.