Saturday, 10 September 2011
Radical Together by David Platt
Multnomah Books, 2011
Imagine two churches. The first is seeker-sensitve.
Newcomers are welcomed at the door and provided with a latte and croissants. They settle down in a large auditorium, astounded by the hundreds if not thousands of others who have joined them. Their children are taken care of and entertained in an adjoining room. They listen to a professional band play amazing music accompanied by sensational graphics on HD screens around the auditorium. There are no obvious Christian symbols on display, no cross or crucifix, no stained glass windows, no Bibles. It could be any theatre in any town. The pastor then stands up and gives an excellent and inspiring talk again accompanied with amazing projected graphics on the screens.
The second church is also seeker-sensitive.
But for this church it's a different seeker. This seeker is the one one who seeks worshippers (Jn 4:23). There is very little entertainment, but what takes place is worship and praise to the God who is the creator of all things, the music may not be note perfect, but there is honesty, integrity and sincerity in the singing. This church is attempting to show people the love, justice, holiness, grace and character of God - no gimmicks.
In which place is God most glorified? How can we be radical together and not succumb to the American dream? That is the question that David Platt asks in this book. Platt's previous book Radical was a bestseller. This book takes shows the next step - it provides ideas and examples of how we can be radical together.
It is a challenging if not uncomfortable read. It will challenge you to consider how the radical impact of the gospel affects church life. Platt is refreshingly iconoclastic. Here he wants to consider what could happen if 'we apply the revolutionary claims and commands of Christ to our communities of faith'.
He has six key ideas:
1. The good things of church can become the enemy of the best - programmes, as good as they are, may not be the best thing for a church.
2. The gospel saves us from work so that we can work. We don't earn God's acceptance.
3. The Word does the work - the Bible is our guide and motivation. Living according to God's word will mean making big changes.
4. Building the right church depends on using the wrong people - God is interested in people. Dedication to church programs is not the same as 'devotion to kingdom purposes'. The issue is not performance in church, it is not professionalism but as he puts it 'Performance has nothing to do with it. People have everything to do with it'.
5. We are living and longing for the end of the world - by this he means that we need to take the gospel to the ends of the earth (Mt 24:14 )
6. We are selfless followers of a self-centred God. All this is done not because God needs us - God is self-sufficient, he needs no ones help - but he wants to involve us because he loves us.
These he claims are radical claims. By following these we can be radical together. I was particularly pleased to see the emphasis on the self-sufficiency of God; otherwise the book can become yet another programme to follow, something more for us to do. But at essence what Platt is calling for is for each of us, for the churches, to seek what God call us to do and to do it - and that my be very different from what his church at Brook Hills, Alabama, or our prevailing culture call us to do.
He provides some concrete examples which his congregation in have followed. These include reducing church budgets so that more money can go to mission, lifestyles rearranged, downsizing, a large adoption programme in the church and reallocating resources.
One needn't agree with all that Platt is advocating, but it makes for an interesting read. It will challenge each one of us and each congregation to think what can we do to make sure that we are being sensitive to the right seeker. It is a message that the rugged individualism of evangelicalism needs to hear.
Resources to support he book are available here
Disclosure: WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group sent me this book for free for this review - the views expressed are my own.