There is an old axiom that states, Good things come in small packages. I haven’t always believed it. I certainly haven’t believed it when it comes to booklets. When I received a package that contained ten review copies of David Platt’s booklet A Radical Idea I was initially disappointed. I’m not sure that I have ever read a tiny booklet and been overly impressed. So, to say that I was surprised to find myself delighted, challenged and convicted in just 52 short pages is a bit of an understatement.
As he has done in his books Radicaland Radical Together, Platt challenges readers to move beyond the complacency and consumerism of the American church and into true discipleship. In his opening pages Platt writes, “God-exalting men and women do not have the time to waste their lives pursuing a Christian spin on the American dream.” He then begins to unpack his vision of what the church could look like if together we pursued radical obedience to Christ’s mission to make disciples; which he repeatedly calls “impacting the world with the Spirit of God for the glory of God.”Platt, who pastors a mega-church in a multi-million dollar facility, challenges American Christians to rethink church. Increasingly uncomfortable with the massive amounts of dollars that western churches throw into buildings and ministry, Platt challenges us to think about how we are unleashing people for ministry that happens apart from the building. Platt has asked his church leaders to ask themselves how they would do church if they didn’t have the luxury of a building. It is clear that much of Platt’s thinking on church has been developed by his trips to parts of the world where being a follower of Jesus is illegal.He writes on page eleven that, “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.” He then discusses how Jesus used eleven men, who would have been considered the “wrong people” by many in the modern church, to transform the world for Christ.I like to keep a journal when I read books. One of the phrases that I wrote down while reading this book is, “Building the right church, then, is dependent on using all the wrong people” (page 12).Modern churches in other parts of the world and certainly the early church have not been built around great communicators, fantastic programs, state of the art facilities and worship. These churches have grown because of a desire for the people of God to gather together no matter the cost, for the glory of God. Platt asks his readers to consider, “What if the church itself – the people of God gathered in one place – is intended to be the attraction, regardless of who is teaching or singing that day? This is enough for our brothers and sisters around the world. But is it enough for us?” (page 18).Platt spends the remainder of the book detailing the need for churches to “make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples, and together multiply the Gospel to all peoples” (see page 47).In the church that I pastor we’ve encouraged each of our members to follow the example of Jesus when it comes to discipleship. Jesus had a core group of three men that He discipled in a greater way than anyone else. He spend three years building into the twelve disciples. He had a group of 70 that he poured into at a lesser level. And, He had the multitudes who he poured into at an even lesser level. Platt’s book challenges us to do a similar thing. He encourages each member of the church to be involved in a discipleship journey with those whom God has brought into their life.
I will be giving A Radical Idea to all of the small group leaders, church staff and elders at our church. It’s nice to have a booklet that can easily be read in 30 minutes or less to give to the core leaders of our congregation. A Radical Idea is a great companion to a discipleship program that seeks to “unleash the people of God for the purpose of God.” (Platt’s terminology, not mine — but I sure like it!) I highly recommend this resource.
To read an excerpt of A Radical Idea, follow this link and click the excerpt tab.
Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. has written a marvelous book, in Soulprint that should leave readers inspired to make a difference in their generation for Jesus Christ.Perhaps living in a city where people are all about making a name for themselves, has allowed Batterson to write a book about our uniqueness without making it sound like it is all about you. There are plenty of books on the market that teach us about our uniqueness, but Batterson writes about the subject with a keen recognition that our uniqueness has more to say about God than it does about us. When we discover who we are, who we are not, and begin
to understand God’s plan for our lives, we can make an impact on the world that will not soon be forgotten.If you are struggling with your purpose in life, wanting to know why God created you the way that He did, this book is for you. If you have read lots of books on identity, purpose, strengths, and spiritual gifts, there is enough new information presented in Batterson’s book that it will give you some new food for thought.This book would work great as a small group curriculum. As a former youth pastor, I think this would be a great book to work through with juniors and seniors in high school, or college students. Dealing with some of these issues in formative years would be a blessing to many of our students. As a dad, I plan on taking my kids through this book in the very near future.
Woodbury Community Church has set an aggressive goal this year to see 75% of the people who attend our weekend services involved in small groups by the end of this year. Our eventual goal is that 125% of our congregation’s weekend attendance average would be involved in small groups. Why? Because we believe that nothing changes a person more than being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and that disciples are best nurtured in the context of a small group. Small groups allow us to strip away false pretense. Healthy small groups mean that we are known by others. It means that we have a place to be real about our failures and people with whom to celebrate our victories. Life is hard. It was never meant to be lived alone.
My Dad sent me an e-mail last night. The e-mail is an interview with Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California. In the interview Rick says, “Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.”
This year, our church has been studying The Sermon on the Mount. In His revolutionary sermon, Jesus gave his listeners the secret to a life that was blessed by God. Blessing doesn’t always mean happiness this side of heaven. Sometimes blessing means that we get on God’s anvil, and He chisels away the things in our life that need to be formed into something new. The process may hurt, but the end result brings blessing.
Small groups help us through the process. They also help move us to action; away from complacent Christianity and into the spiritual battle. This 4 1/2 minute video by Matt Carter, the pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas talks about being a people who live in missional community. It’s a video that has encouraged me today, and I hope it will encourage you.
People regularly ask me if the sermons that I preach are available in manuscript form. You may now download .pdf versions of my sermons at the Woodbury Community Church website. You may also download small group questions to help you dive deeper into the content of the sermons. The new sermon and small group content is available by clicking here.
In 2010, over seventy people at Woodbury Community Church tookThe Challenge, a challenge to read through the Bible over the course of one year. Many of those who took The Challenge completed that challenge yesterday. Many did not, but in taking The Challenge, they read more of the Bible in 2010 than they did in 2009.In 2011, I want to challenge you once again to attempt to read through the Bible. There is nothing that will change you as much as God’s Word. D. L. Moody once said, “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book,” when referring to the Bible. When we spend time in God’s Word, we are changed.In 1959, D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, the minister of Westminster Chapel in London wrote, “There is nothing more important in the Christian life than the way in which we approach the Bible, and the way in which we read it. It is our textbook, it is our only source, it is our only authority. We know nothing about God and about the Christian life in a true sense apart from the Bible. We can draw various deductions from nature (and possibly from various mystical experiences) by which we can arrive at a belief in a supreme Creator. But I think it is agreed by most Christians, and it has been traditional throughout the long history of the Church, that we have no authority save this Book. We cannot rely solely upon subjective experiences because there are evil spirits as well as good spirits; there are counterfeit experiences. Here, in the bible, is our soul authority.” (D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Second Edition, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976, p. 6.)One of the common requests that I received last year was for a reading plan that would allow us to read through the Bible chronologically. This year we’ll use the Chronological Reading Guide, which was put together by Back to the Bible Ministries. You can download your copy of the Chronological Reading Guide by clicking here.