Every now and then, I come across a book that really makes me stop to examine how I live out my faith. So it was recently with David Platt’s Radical Together. This is not a book for the faint of heart. This book will challenge you in many ways.
I understood that fact going in. That was actually of the reasons I selected this particular book to review. But I don’t know if I was prepared for the daily wrestling it would inspire.
The book was published in April of 2011 as a follow-up to Platt’s successful book Radical. At the time, Platt was the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. While Radical was aimed at individuals, Radical Together is Platt’s call to leaders of the church to unite around the call to spread the Gospel to all people groups.
In essence, Platt says we spend too much time, energy, and resources chasing the American Dream while people around the world perish without ever having an opportunity to hear the good news of Christ. He argues this is true not only of individuals, but also of churches.
One of the more intriguing chapters to me was “The Genius of Wrong,” in which he argues church leaders too often get lost in developing programs rather than directly discipling their flock. “What this means then,” he writes, “is that church leaders are intended by God not to plan events but to equip people. Leaders do not exist to provide services; they exist to serve people.” He also warns, “Be careful not to let programs in the church keep you from engaging people in the world with the gospel.” I appreciated this recognition that church committees and programs sometimes actually get in the way of ministering to those around us, although there is also danger in taking that perspective too far and neglecting the church.
But the biggest focus of the book is understanding Matthew 24:14:
“This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come” (HCSB).
Platt calls us to actively embrace and personally participate in spreading the good news to all people groups. I found it a bit easy to quibble with his definitions of people groups here, but that’s a minor point. The Scripture is clear that we are to join with God in spreading His good news to all the world. The question Platt poses is whether we take this opportunity seriously. His answer, looking at how casually we often live out our faith, is that we do not take it seriously enough. His goal with this book is to spur church leaders to equip their congregations to join in God’s work.
While I am not a minister, I found the book very helpful at a personal level. It is targeted at those in vocational ministry, but the application is broad enough to be meaningful to others like myself. Platt also includes a study guide in the back of the book with helpful discussion for a small group.
There are things I could criticize about the book. Perhaps he doesn’t dive deeply enough at times. Maybe some of his Scripture references feel like they could be better fleshed out. Maybe he seems to play on emotion a bit too much at times.
However, in the end, despite any faults, this book challenged me in my faith like few others have in recent years. I highly recommend reading it. I’m looking forward now to reading Radical with a small group of friends.
Note, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.