A real thinker of a book about the surge to get back to real Christian beliefs and values. I think we all lose sight of what we are expected as a christian but this book really brings the focus back to our role in this religious realm.
A Call to Resurgence by Mark Driscoll is one of those books that I consider to be a must read for all Christians because its message is critical. In his book, the author states that our country is not really a Christian nation anymore for many reasons. The author goes on to explain why he believes that America is not a Christian nation anymore and lists things like fewer than 8% of Americans are Christians, serving Jesus is not popular with mainstream America, and many Christians are mocked, opposed, and persecuted for the times they speak out against non-Christian actions such as gay marriage. Even sadder, the author goes on to explain that the reason that this has happened to our country is because of Christians because we are too busy attacking each other over small matters and separating into our own little cliques rather than working together to spread Christ's message of Salvation. The author also explains that despite our failures, God is still working in our world and our nation because more people are still coming to Christ as well as raising faithful believers to doing His work in our world. This book was a real eye-opener for me and it made me realize where I fall short in my own life and spiritual health. It is my hope that it is not too late for America and I think if Christians spent more time wholly serving God rather than fighting with each other over things that don't really matter, then we may see a revival sweep across our land.
I was really excited starting this book. The first chapter "Christendom is Dead" started off well, chronicling the demise of "church" in our country, and was fascinating. It ended with the trumpet call "Christendom is dead. Jesus is alive. Stay salty. Fear not." Likewise, chapter 2 "Standing Knockout" was great also. I loved that it showed how "the definition of tolerance has changed from accepting that lots of people have different views, some of which are wrong, to agreeing that all views are equally true." Preach it, brother. It went on to explain how churches got into the position they are today. I then got to chapter 3, "A New Reality". Mr. Driscoll described "tribe", his term for a group connected to one another, a leader, and an idea, and then went on to painstakingly identify 4 traits that would clarify your tribe's identity. I struggled to understand the terminology and their definitions and my eyes began to glaze over. The final chapter gave Seven Principles for Resurgence, but by then I felt overwhelmed and unable to process.
I have great confidence that Mr. Driscoll is thoroughly knowledgeable about his subject, and definitely passionate. I got bogged down in all the defining and parsing of groups, and never got back on board. The chapters are very long, which made it hard for me to keep focused and on-point as to what he was trying to communicate. I was disappointed at the end because I just didn't quite "get" it. I feel perhaps it was written more toward an M.Div. audience who already understood a lot of the backstory, and perhaps more aimed at church leaders rather than the simple person in the pew.
Pastor Mark Driscoll writes a compelling book that calls Christians to stand up and be salty. As the religions and gods of today seem to dig in stronger around us, we need to realize that God is not dead. Christianity is not dying; although the candle light is flickering wearily. Driscoll believes - as do I - that God is still working, and that god is bigger than any detriment we as Christians are to our own faith. This is a must read for all people. It reaches to the newly saved persons, the persons who think they are saved but just aren't sure, the unbelieving persons, and the searching. It is written for believers, but I am sure unbelievers will pick it up and find much "fault" with it. In the book's dedication, Pastor Mark writes the following: "If you love Jesus, do something. If you are not ready to do something, get ready and then do something. If you do something and God doesn't bless it, then do something else. Whatever you do, do it under the authority of a Bible-believing, Jesus-loving local church. Give your life to what Jesus gave his life for - the church."
Driscoll starts right out in chapter one stating the obvious and putting the facts of Christianity today right on the line.
Nothing matters. It doesn't matter how strong the opposing force or enemy is that you are fighting. Jesus is for you and He will fight for you. Nothing else can win.
Many are concerned with the increasingly hostile culture that is creeping in on the Christian faith. This is nothing new. Remember the vicious Roman Empire? The call in this book is a call of resurgence; not a call of retreat and regroup. Now is not the time for compromise, but a time for courage.
Driscoll writes, "We've got work to do. There are lost people to reach, churches to plant, and nations to evangelize. Hell is hot, forever is a long time, and it's our turn to stop making a dent and start making a difference?" (4).
Faith is faith by faith alone. Without an inward, heartfelt conversion there can be no outward, active devotion. "Younger generations increasingly feel less obligated even to profess Christianity, and society increasingly provides less incentive to do so" (17).
In many churches across the country, congregations prefer to show the gospel rather than speak about the gospel. The Gospel by definition is the Good News of Jesus. It is crucial to our faith and foundational to our beliefs. It is what Jesus has done and it demands to be spoken of!
Conclusion: "According to Jesus, not everyone who talks like a Christian or acts like a Christian is actually a Christian" (26). One could be born into a Christian home, baptized in a Christian church, have attended Christian school, pray ever day, and even be a ministry leader and still not be a Christian. You can believe in God and not be a Christian. Disagree? Look at the apostle Judas.
Driscoll writes that morality today is more like wine tasting that banking (62). He concludes that Christians needs to basically stop standing around chewing their nails and waiting for the Holy Spirit to swoop in with more grace (80). "At the end of the day we don't need more celebrities and more debate. We need more Spirit-empowered Christians we take their call to witness to God's work in this world, and to do so in unity with other Christians, even if they don't agree on some secondary matters" (81).
As he writes throughout the book, Driscoll points out that the Holy Spirit is still working in the church and in the lives of believers. He calls - or challenges - Christians to repentance. Life isn't going to get any easier. Trials and hardships will still happen after you seek God's forgiveness (221). In order for a resurgence to take place the church needs to realize the mission we are called for. This book ends on a great and positive note about the actions we take as a church body and as an individual christian. I recommend this book to any Christian or even anyone seeking to know more about Christianity. It is a powerful and challenging read whose author doesn't beat around the bush.
I received this book from Tyndale House Publishing and am not being compensated for my review.
Mark Driscoll writes as a contemporary prophet who feels the pressing need to address a huge amount of issues that the North American Evangelical Church is facing (or choosing not to face) today. He's also a loving pastor, clever writer, and passionate promoter of the gospel who loves Jesus and His People and wants the best for His Church. He pulls no punches as he unapologetically pulls the skeletons out of our evangelical closets for all to see and explains why we are in such a steep decline. If you're not alarmed, enlightened, angry, weeping, or offended by this book, then you probably aren't reading it right.
My Driscoll Bias
Let me admit my bias. Mark Driscoll is a very intelligent, courageous, biblical, Christian leader who is sold out to Jesus Christ and who loves his church. I read everything Mark Driscoll writes, listen to his sermons regularly, and am a big fan of what the Resurgence and Acts 29 is doing. I looked forward to reviewing this book as soon as it was available from Tyndale, and as I read it, I knew what to expect and heard exactly what I expected to hear - which was a good thing.
Driscoll has always seen himself as a button-pushing, prophet and in this book he pushes as many buttons as he can. He chooses headline garnishing illustrations which shock the average person into listening to whatever he's about to say. He is brilliant, clever, and purposefully abrasive - which is part of his charm and what drives people crazy. Regardless of what you think of his style, you should listen to him, because he's probably right.
"A Call To Resurgence" is a powerful gateway to clear thinking about the troubles the church is facing today. It is an education for church leaders and a perfect primer for anyone who has recently looked up from behind their pew and wondered, "Hey, where is everyone?"
Driscoll is a skilled teacher who helps his readers understand the key issues, what got us to this point, and then asks us to step out of our comfort zone and make the necessary changes to our thinking and practices. He raises criticisms of every kind against the Christian church and follows them with questions that every believer (and every church) needs to answer. Click here for Tim Challies' great overview of the individual chapters.
This book is not only worth buying for the great content of the chapters, but for the pitch-perfect appendices. His section on the history of the various Christian/Religious "tribes" in our culture and recommended reading list are worth the price of the book.
I do have a few issues with the book, though they are not many:
First, I couldn't figure out who the target audience was. It's not for non/new Christians because there is so much in-house discussion that is only understood by people who have been part of the church for a while. Older generations might not appreciate the aggressive language and humour. Comfortable believers won't pick it up in the first place. I'm a pastor who appreciated the whole of it, but I wonder if much of the systematic theology and historical content might confuse or overwhelm the average attendee (or bore them). If this is a call to action for all believers, I'm not sure everyone will be able to get all the way to the end of it.
Second, every sub-section is valuable on its own, but taken as a whole, the book seems disjointed. This is a shotgun blast, not a sniper shot to the heart of the issue. He hits so many issues (history, parenting, theology, money, homosexuality, church statistics_) that the book reads like a pile of great sound bites assembled around a theme - which means that occasionally it feels incohesive. I often found myself thinking "This is really good, but why is it in here?"
Third, though his section on tribes is excellently written and extremely helpful, at times it came across as partial, biased and stereotypical. Still, if the point was show us what tribe we are in so we can evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, he did that very well.
I highly recommend this book. It's not going to be an easy read for anyone, but I believe it's important for everyone. Remember when your mother told you to eat your vegetables because they were good for you? That's this book. If you read it, and get a taste for it, it will change you for the better.
Driscoll is always a treasure-trove of choice quotes. I wanted to close this out by sharing some of my favourites:
- "He was dumped like a prom date with tuberculosis_"
- "Evangellyfish with no backbones will propagate the myth that God and Jesus are infinitely tolerant."
- "The least likely person you'll see in church is a single twentysomething male. He is as rare at church as a vegan at a steak house."
- "When trying to evangelize, fundamentalists are more prone to use methods such as tract bombing and aggressive street witnessing, which are devoid of relationship and which unbelievers experience as the spiritual equivalent of a flasher in a trench coat."
- "_let's just admit that most people stink theologically and are about as ready to articulate basic Christian belief as a basset hound is ready to fly a helicopter."
- "In our day of ample opportunity for Bible reading and instruction, we are like fools starving to death at the grocery store."
"Men are like trucks: they drive straighter when carrying a load."
- "_we'd rather believe that faith is a stick and God is a piÃ±ata, and if we swing hard enough, health and wealth will come pouring down upon us."