To be quite honest I have been something of a David Platt agnostic. A peculiar aspect of my personality dictates that I must approach anything which comes down the pike of Christendom as the last must-read/see/hear with more than a generous helping of skepticism. Platt’s Radical was of course just the sort of sensation that would trigger my ambivalence mechanism and it did just that. In fact I might just be the only person I know who hasn’t read Radical. My justification for this is two fold: one, my wife did read the book and a large part of last summer was spent discussing the book over meals, during walks, on car rides, etc. Two, Radical was such a sensation that it seemed every where I turned someone was telling me about how the book impacted them or was asking me about so-and-so’s review of the book. Platt became pervasive and I genuinely felt like I could absorb the content of the the book from the zeitgeist.
When I saw that Platt’s newest book, Radical Together, was going to be offered through Waterbrook Multinomah’s early screening program I signed up, hoping to get out in front of the consensus opinion that would surely form on the heels of the title’s release and take a crack at thinking through Platt’s assertions before I was again deluged by everyone else’s response to the book.
What I found, for what it’s worth, is that Platt remains the sort of author who will get people thinking about the responsibility of the Church to God in terms of the missionary endeavor. Big surprise, huh? Radical Together is ostensibly about being passionate about fulfilling the Great Commission in the context of the local church and it certainly is that. However, the book also serves to address the prevailing criticisms of Radical.
The opening chapter, The Tyranny of the Good, asks the reader to evaluate the efforts of their local congregation to fulfill God’s mission as effectively as possible. Platt makes use of the old cliché’ that the greatest enemy of the great is that which is merely good. Applying this principle to the local church leads Platt to conclude the local church should be before the Lord asking “What needs to go? What needs to change? What needs to stay the same.” A hearty amen to that, at least insofar as it encourages churches not to persist in a course simply because it’s the road they have been on for some time. There is, of course, a danger here – continual evaluation, re-evaluation, and further examination can exhaust the church’s energy on analysis. There is also something to be said for developing a plan and sticking with it long enough to learn how to do it well (which applies to congregations seeking to have a hand in international missions as much as it does anywhere else). If these pitfalls can be avoided this chapter should provoke (at the least) some very helpful conversations within local churches.
Platt’s second chapter addresses one of the potential problems created by Radical – the despondency arising from the believer who reads Platt’s initial offering and begins to feel that they can never be radical enough, never do enough, to respond seriously to the mission God calls His people to. Platt represents this believer with the name Ashley and to her he offers the right solution: the gospel. Being radical, according to Platt, can never be the ground of a believer’s relationship to the Lord. As a matter of fact Platt says “the beauty of the gospel” is that no one has to be radical “enough” to gain the Lord’s favor. Rather, God give His favor and this prompts his people to passionate and obedient action. Again, amen.
Platt has a vision for the activities of the church that I find particularly helpful: he suggests that rather than focusing on programs and productions the church should invest herself in a stripped down ministry model focused on loving God, loving one another, and serving those around them. I’m not sure if we are quite past the mega-church age in Christian history or not but this admonition from Platt is a healthy counter to the kind of mentality that evaluates a church on the basis of how many activities take place under the church’s roof in a given week. This also provides a way forward for the small congregation that might not be able to offer phenomenal choir productions but can indeed worship the Lord well, practice healthy body life, and serve the community they find themselves in.
The reader of Radical Together will come away, in my evaluation, with a better understanding of God and how He would have His people pursue His mandate for the nations. This book will also serve to challenge individual believers to take an active role in leading their church to be streamlined in how they do what they do and to pursue efficiency as a component of a broader missions strategy. Finally, and this is no surprise, I anticipate Radical Together will prompt an enormous volume of conversation – both personal and public – on how this generation of believers can best pursue the Great Commission in our day. To this I say a final amen.
If this sounds like a book you would like to read you can pick up a copy here. If buying without sampling seems to…radical…then you can read the first chapter here to help you make a purchasing decision. For the more visually stimulated you can also check out the trailer:
Disclaimer: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multinomah Publishing Group. WaterBrook Multinomah in no way compelled me to offer a positive evaluation of the title.