If you liked the book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, by David Platt, you’ll love his most recent work, Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God. Dr. David Platt is the senior pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. Throughout the book, he draws on the experiences and challenges he encountered guiding a traditional “program-focused” church to become a mission/community-focused congregation of radical followers of Jesus. Using the Word of God as the primary guide for both theology and methodology, he led his church to ask this question, “Does this plan/program best align with the purpose and plan of God for His people?” It impressive to see how this simple question radically transformed his congregation.
In this book, Radical Together, the author revisits some of the issues he introduced in his earlier work, Radical. One of these issues deals with the basic elements of church growth. Today, most church growth practices focus on three elements: an excellent performance at a comfortable place led by outstanding professionals. The author suggests there is one serious problem. It leaves out the most important “p” – the people of God! God’s plan is His people! We certainly need to gather with God’s people for worship, but growing His Church is found in one simple command, “Make disciples.” You cannot make disciples without equipping God’s people to take His Word and His Gospel into His world. As, the author says, “Performance has nothing to do with it. People have everything to do with it.”
The “radical” principles suggested in this book are practical, straightforward, and in a very real sense, downright simple. What Dr. Platt led his church to do, and what he suggests for his readers, is to focus on the mission Jesus gave to His Church, to make disciples, and evaluate everything in light of accomplishing that mission.
This may seem radical, but it is not radically new! It’s actually a very ancient plan! It is what Alan Hirsch describes in his book, The Forgotten Ways, as the “apostolic genius.” It is making disciples through personal relationships. In short, it is about people leading other people to know and follow Jesus.
There is a disturbingly honest paragraph in this book where the author reveals his own struggle with the amount of resources his church dedicates to the Sunday worship services as opposed to how much is given to impacting the world. I’ve decided to close this review by quoting this paragraph. Remember, these words come from a pastor whose church recently cut 83% of its worship budget in order to free up resources for urgent needs around the world.
“I am haunted by this question on Sundays as I stand in a nice auditorium with a quality sound system and large video screens on the wall, all designed to spotlight select people on stage. It’s not that everything in this scene is necessarily wrong, but I do wonder what in this scene is biblically best and practically healthy for the people of God. I have more questions than I have answers on this issue, and I am grateful for leaders in our worship ministry who are willing to ask the questions with me.” (p. 60)
I urge you to get the book, read it, and use the study guides for each chapter to lead your congregation or leadership team in a study of how to be “RADICAL TOGETHER.”
Reviewed by Larry Doyle