Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lessons from the East by Bob Roberts Jr.

The statistics for U.S. church growth is depressing. Outside of the U.S, it's a different story. For a long time U.S. church leaders thought they were experts in doing church. Is there something they need to learn from the global church?

Roberts is convinced he has identified a major flaw in the way American pastors think. An attractive worship experience is not how to reach the community. “The primary benefit we offer our communities...,” he writes, “is creative, selfless, tenacious service.” (14) Service will have a much greater impact than self-promotion.

Roberts tells stories from his oversees journeys of people making huge impacts in their communities, in every domain. Who they are and how they are serving is making a difference. They are actually living the gospel. Roberts writes about cell churches, discipleship, people who model the kingdom, the four shifts required, and much more. He suggests the global church can be our tutor to wake us up and show us what can happen when we are kingdom focused.

The lessons the global church has for us may be uncomfortable. In the West, we preach a balanced Christian life. In the East, they preach full abandonment to Jesus Christ. Here we preach wealth and a comfortable life. There they preach sharing in the sufferings of Christ. “We have a lot to learn from our friends in the East.” (175)

Some will no doubt find fault with Roberts because he has befriended imams. He also recognizes the valuable ministry of women pastors. If God has called a woman to minister, he is all for letting it happen. He has seen the fruit of their labors. He's not afraid of the Holy Spirit either.

I recommend this book to pastors. You don't have to be a megachurch pastor. Pastors of small churches can make a huge difference by equipping people to serve in their domains of society, where they live and work. This book will help you go from being church focused pastor to being a kingdom focused pastor. There are “Consider This” questions at the end of each chapter so this book could be used for a study involving church ministry leaders or a city pastor association.

If, as a pastor, what you are doing in your church is not working to influence your community and further the kingdom of God, you need to read this book.

Food for thought: “The task of the church is to make disciples who engage the broad context of society for the kingdom of God to be increasingly realized on earth.” (35)

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Bob Roberts Jr. is the founding pastor of NorthWood Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has been involved in helping plant over two hundred churches. He is a graduate of Fuller Seminary. He and his wife have two children.

David C Cook, 255 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Handlebar Marketing for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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