This is not a pleasant book to read. Who wants to be confronted with the reality that your church may more resemble a country club than the community of faith God desires?
Platt realized that sometimes churches "can - unknowingly and unintentionally - actually prevent God's people from accomplishing God's purpose." (3) Yes, the church may be doing "good" things. But, he says, "We must be willing to sacrifice good things in the church in order to experience the great things of God." (9)
He uses the example of their losing their house in New Orleans (Katrina). Is your community of faith willing to put all the programs and activities before the levee and ask God to sweep them away if they are not what God wants?
Platt argues that "the ultimate goal of the church is to take the gospel to all people groups," so, "everything we do in church must be aimed toward that end." (88) "We organize our churches as if God exists to meet our needs, cater to our comforts, and appeal to our preferences." (105) What motivates a church to God's purposes "is a glimpse of the sovereign, holy, majestic God who is worthy of all worship, who is high and lifted up. This vision alone will compel a church to radical, risk-taking, death defying obedience to the purpose of God in the world." (109)
The question that consumes Platt: "How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the Spirit of God with the Word of God for the glory of God in the world?" (125)
There is a great discussion guide at the back of the book for small groups and leadership teams. The six sessions help guide leaders through discussion and planning, discerning God's purposes.
A great awakening! Most of us as Christians take our faith for granted, almost like we are leechies. Using our churches and services to fill our needs instead of others needs. Radical is a good name for this writing.
Radical Together by David Platt (Multnomah Books, 2011) is a stand-alone sequel to his first book Radical which created tidal waves with the call to each Christian to take back his or her faith from the American Dream. It met with mixed reaction from the Christian world. The sequel, Radical Together, shows how individuals can unite together as God intended them to do in order to create maximum gospel impact. This second book will likely meet the same reception from American Christianity. Those whom are comfortably chasing the American dream while reinventing the gospel to suit their individual situations will likely dislike this book as much as the first. Those whom understand that God's mission is global in scope will welcome this book as a much needed revival wind.
When I started the book, in all honesty, I did not expect much. Radical was awesome and I expected this to be more of the same information rehashed and repackaged in a new cover with a new targetâ€”focused on the group as opposed to the individual. I was wrong. David Platt immediately grabs the reader's attention with his well written, easy to understand style and solid biblical exegesis. Once again he leads the open-minded person to wonder, "How did I miss that simple point in all the times I've read that passage."
Radical Together focuses more on the church as a group entity and brings to light many of the issues which cause us to stumble over our own feet and inadvertently prevent God's people from accomplishing God's purpose. Platt organizes the book around six of these premises. One of the worst enemies of Christians can be good things in the church. The gospel that saves us from work saves us to work. The Word does the work. Building the right church depends on using all the wrong people. We are livingâ€”and longingâ€”for the end of the world. We are selfless followers of a self-centered God.
Throughout the book, the author takes each principle and expounds it with real life examples, colorful illustrations, and supporting Scripture references. The style is easy to read and understand yet at the same time somber and challenging. Each principle brings the reader face-to-face with a very real decision: Do I agree that the church belongs to Christ and exists for a global purpose? Or, will I continue to assert that the church belongs to us exists to serve me?
Radical Together is a must read that will challenge every Christian's view of the church body in some form or another. Leaders will be forced to examine the direction they are taking the church body in which God has entrusted to their stewardship. Members will be forced to examine the idols of church life in which they hold dear and determine whether or not they will smash these idols in order to allow the church to focus on God's plan.
If you and I want our lives to count for God's purpose in the world, we need to begin with a commitment to God's people in the church. God has called us to lock arms with one another in single-minded, death-defying obedience to one objective: the declaration of his gospel for the demonstration of his glory to all nations.
This is the reason for David Platt writing Radical Together, the extension of his first book Radical (my review here). In this first book Platt urges the believer to live a radical life for God. He teaches that we are to live our lives in service to others and in ways that we are not accustomed to. Most of us have never been overseas ministering the gospel in a third world country nor have we spent much time doing that in our communities outside of our church buildings. We need to be willing to sacrifice all to accomplish that end.
As he did in Radical he confronts the selfishness of contemporary Christianity head on. Most people today try to make the gospel fit their wants yet our wants should fit the gospel. He points out on page 48 that the design of God's Word is "not to provide practical guidelines, parenting tips, leadership advice, and financial counsel that Americans are looking for in the twenty-first century. Instead, the purpose of God's Word is to transform people in every country and every century into the image of Jesus."
Throughout the book he asks us to evaluate every program we have in our churches, even those that are considered "sacred." Many of us would say that what we do in our churches is good but he points out that isn't enough. We should be doing what is best. That cuts me to the bone. I can get complacent when things are going good and not give much thought to them. Yet when we do we may see that even though a particular program is good it may not be the best. As a leader in my church I will apply this to everything we do.
The major complaint I had with Radical becomes even a bigger issue in Radical Together - that in Platt's understanding taking the gospel to the world means somewhere outside of the U.S. In Radical he didn't devote much time to local ministry and seems to spend even less time in Radical Together on it. And I couldn't get past that.
As I said in my review of Radical we have to look at a lost soul in Africa like we do our lost neighbor. We can't say that one is more important than the other and I believe Platt does (see pages 87-90). He does try to clarify himself on this (Not Either/Or But Both/And page 90-93) but I believe he fails. He says at the end of the section that the purpose of ministry in his community is to reach those outside of the U.S. In the very next section he moves again to missions outside of our local communities and to the world. Platt carries this idea throughout the book. And it seems to become a bigger issue with each page.
Please don't believe that we don't need to go out to the world and evangelize every person we can. We do. But we can't do it at the sake of those around us.
If the book were to handle this better I would be able to give it a better review but I can't, nor should I want to.