"Radical Together" effective Round 2 for "Radical"
August 19, 2011
After loudly challenging individual Christians to live in radical obedience to Christ in his best-selling book "Radical," David Platt now challenges Christians and churches to be "Radical Together" in his latest book by that name (published by Multnomah Books).
"Radical Together" is an effective follow-through to Platt's original challenge for radical obedience, but don't expect it to hold quite the same level of eye-opening punch. With what is considered to be faithful Christianity and effective "church" being so far removed from an accurate biblical context and mired in current culture and corporate concepts, "Radical" served as a bold, no-holds-barred message of truth that connected within the church like a prize fighter's right upper-cut to a glass jaw.
The result of the first book? Many Christians have stepped up to the challenge to live a life of radical obedience to Christ. But many others were profoundly impacted by the message intellectually, but have yet to change their lives in any substantive way. "Radical Together" attempts to help readers take the step from being punched with the truth to actualizing a radical faith.
For those who were hoping Platt would tone down his message and provide Christians with more wiggle room for maintaining their mediocre faith, you will be disappointed. Starting with a somewhat mellow opening, Platt again builds a crescendo of biblical teaching designed to get churches to radically rethink and reorganize what they consider to be obedient faith.
Platt uses just six simple chapters to unfold his challenge of being radically obedient together. He starts by challenging readers to break out of traditional or modern cultural molds for Christian living and how we "do church" by looking past some of the good things we're doing to consider what would be best. Platt shows how we can actually fall short of God's will by settling for doing some things that really are good, when we are quite capable of doing better.
I was happy to see the inclusion of chapter two, as Platt attempts to resolve a tension created from the strength of his message in the original book. Some have criticized Platt's "Radical" message as being too focused on doing things for God, sounding more like a works-based faith. In "Radical Together," Platt clarifies that a radical obedience to Christ is a natural result of an overflow of joy from walking with God.
From there, Platt identifies the Bible as being the source of his challenge, as well as being the power source for radical obedience. While it is vital to make scripture a central source for Christians, Platt missed coupling scripture with its essential partner: prayer. He later highlights the essential role of prayer in the last chapter of the book, but not pairing it with the role of scripture weakens the adequacy of the focus.
Then Platt manages to step on more toes by challenging readers to get the process of church right, clearly stating that it's not about slick performances, comfortable places, ministry professionals, or church programs --- all the things we currently make the central constructs of the modern church. Instead, Platt redirects us to the biblical concept of mission for the church, and lands another strong bout of the "radical" message once again.
Finally, Platt states something that left me applauding loudly: he says he's become "nauseated" by all the talk of "vision" among church leaders in a Church that remains so mediocre. Platt gets something that most church leaders who use a business construct for the church miss: that is, the church is to be directed by Christ's mission for the church rather than man-made visions for it. Vision should be about how we execute achieving the mission Christ has already given to His church.
"Radical Together" concludes with a renewed challenge for Christians and churches to be just that ... radical, together!
Are you in, or are you out?
I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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.