Normally, I post my book reviews on Saturday’s but with The Resurgence conference starting today and Mark Driscoll’s book A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity have a Funeral or a Future? (kindle version) releasing today, I thought I’d post my review of it today.
The question that needs to be answered before diving into this book is, “Does the church really need a resurgence?” According to Driscoll, and I’d agree, the answer is “Yes.”
What percentage of Americans could be classified as evangelical Christian? The answer is around 8%. There are more left handed people, more Texans, and more pet cats than evangelicals in America. Common statistics estimate that evangelicals represent anywhere between 40 to 70% of the country’s total population, or approximately 130 million people. However, more extensive research cited by John Dickerson in his book The Great Evangelical Recession indicates that the actual range is 7 and 8.9%, somewhere between 22 and 28 million people. All studies indicate that younger people are less likely to be evangelical. A gallup poll found that 6.4% of the US population between 18 and 29 identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, which means in all likelihood there are as many young people with alternative sexual lifestyles as there are active young evangelicals in the US.
I think Driscoll is positioned well to write this book. What is true for the rest of the nation as far as religion, issues, beliefs and world views has been true of the city he has ministered in for decades. So, the stats, ideas on handling what those stats mean for church leaders, Driscoll has a ton of fresh ideas and great insights.
Here are some of the things Driscoll said that I found helpful:
- Without inward conversion there’s no reason to expect outward devotion.
- The gospel cannot be shown; it must be spoken. Love, grace, mercy, justice and the like can be shown with works. The gospel of Jesus Christ, however, must be spoken with words, because the gospel of Jesus Christ is not about our deeds but rather Jesus’ deeds: his sinless life, substitutionary death, burial and bodily resurrection for the salvation of sinners.
- The gospel – the Good News – is about what Jesus has done, and it must be spoken. Good deeds are about what Jesus wants us to do, and they must be shown. Good deeds can serve people, but only the Good News can save them. When good deeds are confused with the Good News, bad things happen.
- When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.
- Today there are not sins. There is only one sin, and that is calling anything a sin.
- I believe there is a correlation between the rising tide of bad dads and the rise in moralistic therapeutic deism among younger generations. This view of God is much like their experience of their earthly father – distant, uninvolved, and essentially having abandoned them to figure out life on their own.
- Men are supposed to be producers, not just consumers. We’re defined by the legacy, the life, and the fruit that come out of us, not by what we take in.
- The Bible recognizes those who only and always preach peace, tolerance, love and acceptance toward sin as false prophets and prophets for hire.
- False prophets love to tell us that God is only and forever tolerant. But the Bible teaches that God is not tolerant of sin but rather patient with sinners.
- All of a Christians life is repentance.
- Any theology that does not call people to repent is heresy.
- The way we naturally are is not wonderful but sinful.
- Both homosexual and Christians are, curiously enough, organized minority groups. If Christians war with homosexuals, what we’re ignoring is the majority – all the people between the two groups at some point on the continuum. And as a general rule, those people in the middle are the very people we’ve been called to evangelize. If they see us as being mean spirited, they will be less likely to want to hear about Jesus from us.
- Temptation is an opportunity for sin or for victory.
However, where Driscoll falls short is this,
For Christianity to have a future instead of a funeral, various tribes must strive to obey Ephesians 4:3 where Paul commands us to be “eager to maintain unity of the Spirit.”
Sadly, the week leading up to the launch of this book he pulled a terrible publicity stunt by showing up to John MacArthur’s conference, uninvited, to hand out books and talk about the Holy Spirit and how he differs from MacArthur’s belief on the Holy Spirit. Now, I don’t know what happened as I wasn’t there and there are enough opinions and open letters for everyone to read. To put a good spin on it, Driscoll then tried to put out an olive branch to MacArthur and invite him to his conference. Which came across to me as a passive aggressive way to cover things up and move on.
Here’s the point of that paragraph, as a leader, pastor, author, what you do outside and off the stage impacts your message. If you aren’t putting forth unity in how you live and lead, you can’t write a book on it and then expect unity to happen when you aren’t leading in that way.
So how does a church have a resurgence and move the gospel forward? 7 ways:
- Preach the word.
- Love the church.
- Contend and contextualize.
- Be attractional and missional.
- Receive, reject, redeem.
- Consider the common good.
- Evangelize through suffering.
Overall, this book is one every church leader should read. The insights, stats, where the culture is at is something you should know and be aware of and think through how to lead in that culture.