After getting so much out of David Platt’s book Radical, I was interested to read his follow-up book, Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God, which applies the same ideas to the church and asks what would be different about a church body that was really committed to advancing the kingdom of God to all the nations (versus focusing on local programs exclusively or even primarily).
While the book is really geared toward church leadership, I found many applications that would be helpful for Biblestudies and teaching children too. The main question of how do we equip people to actually fulfill the Great Commission is pertinent for any scenario where you could be training or teaching.
As I read I felt that there wasn’t very prescriptive step-by-step instruction for what to teach and how to teach it. That probably was on purpose and probably pastors and other church leaders already have an idea how to do that, but I felt at times sort of frustrated because I feel like I don’t know how to begin teaching something that hasn’t ever really been taught to me!
But on a broad level, I think a good start is just changing our mindsets from being locally focused on our own little groups, to having a more global and gospel-centered focus. One area I found especially helpful in Radical Together was Platt’s discussion on prayer–how our prayer life corporately and individually could change to reflect the Great Commission.
I’m still working through the implications of all of this, but I’m glad I read the follow-up book. If you only have time for one, read Radical (link is to my review), but if your interest is piqued, Radical Together is also a great resource.
I read Jen Hatmaker’s unusual and thought-provoking book on non-traditional fasting last summer, so I was enthused to find out that Adrienne from Suburban Menagerie was hosting an online discussion group based on Hatmaker’s follow up personal study on the concept, 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess.
As in the original book, the discussion book challenges reader to a different kind of fasting–rather than going without food the book suggests “offering up your blindspots” on how you think about food, clothing, possessions, time, media, and other modern tripping points. Hatmaker offers a good discussion on what fasting means, what the Bible suggests we’re to get from it (hint: not legalistic rituals, more like heart transformation).
Some of the chapters were really insightful. It was helpful for me to really think through how my faith should influence every facet of my life, including how I spend my money and time and what sort of philosophy should govern my use of media. As with the original book, the study guide has some perspective-challenging points, such as the point that donating extra clothes to Goodwill is fine, but but “it’s not that Christians don’t care about the poor, it’s that they don’t know the poor.” I found myself thinking that maybe giving stuff to Goodwill is an easy out, versus being involved in the lives of people who are in need of help and giving directly, out of friendship and connection versus out of excess and distance.
At a couple of points I took issue with the study guide, as I felt there were some problems with cherry picking Scripture references to the exclusion of others (for example, talking about food in light of Old Testament law while not discussing Acts 10 where God declares all foods clean) or suggesting that wealth is incompatible with true discipleship when wealth, held lightly and used in a godly way, is described as a blessing in Scripture. Wealth is not the problem, the problem is when you value wealth (or eating organic food, or being a minimialist, or anything else) more than Christ.
Overall, I think the original book was far better than the study guide, but I still got a lot out of the personal challenge and group discussion aspect of the study guide.
Out of curiosity, have you ever found a follow up book to be better than an original, or do you think they are kind of a publishing gimmick?
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