North American Evangelical Church
Mark Driscoll writes as a contemporary prophet who feels the pressing need to address a huge amount of issues that the North American Evangelical Church is facing (or choosing not to face) today. He’s also a loving pastor, clever writer, and passionate promoter of the gospel who loves Jesus and His People and wants the best for His Church. He pulls no punches as he unapologetically pulls the skeletons out of our evangelical closets for all to see and explains why we are in such a steep decline. If you’re not alarmed, enlightened, angry, weeping, or offended by this book, then you probably aren’t reading it right.
My Driscoll Bias
Let me admit my bias. Mark Driscoll is a very intelligent, courageous, biblical, Christian leader who is sold out to Jesus Christ and who loves his church. I read everything Mark Driscoll writes, listen to his sermons regularly, and am a big fan of what the Resurgence and Acts 29 is doing. I looked forward to reviewing this book as soon as it was available from Tyndale, and as I read it, I knew what to expect and heard exactly what I expected to hear – which was a good thing.
Driscoll has always seen himself as a button-pushing, prophet and in this book he pushes as many buttons as he can. He chooses headline garnishing illustrations which shock the average person into listening to whatever he’s about to say. He is brilliant, clever, and purposefully abrasive – which is part of his charm and what drives people crazy. Regardless of what you think of his style, you should listen to him, because he’s probably right.
“A Call To Resurgence” is a powerful gateway to clear thinking about the troubles the church is facing today. It is an education for church leaders and a perfect primer for anyone who has recently looked up from behind their pew and wondered, “Hey, where is everyone?”
Driscoll is a skilled teacher who helps his readers understand the key issues, what got us to this point, and then asks us to step out of our comfort zone and make the necessary changes to our thinking and practices. He raises criticisms of every kind against the Christian church and follows them with questions that every believer (and every church) needs to answer. Click here for Tim Challies’ great overview of the individual chapters.
This book is not only worth buying for the great content of the chapters, but for the pitch-perfect appendices. His section on the history of the various Christian/Religious “tribes” in our culture and recommended reading list are worth the price of the book.
I do have a few issues with the book, though they are not many:
First, I couldn’t figure out who the target audience was. It’s not for non/new Christians because there is so much in-house discussion that is only understood by people who have been part of the church for a while. Older generations might not appreciate the aggressive language and humour. Comfortable believers won’t pick it up in the first place. I’m a pastor who appreciated the whole of it, but I wonder if much of the systematic theology and historical content might confuse or overwhelm the average attendee (or bore them). If this is a call to action for all believers, I’m not sure everyone will be able to get all the way to the end of it.
Second, every sub-section is valuable on its own, but taken as a whole, the book seems disjointed. This is a shotgun blast, not a sniper shot to the heart of the issue. He hits so many issues (history, parenting, theology, money, homosexuality, church statistics…) that the book reads like a pile of great sound bites assembled around a theme – which means that occasionally it feels incohesive. I often found myself thinking “This is really good, but why is it in here?”
Third, though his section on tribes is excellently written and extremely helpful, at times it came across as partial, biased and stereotypical. Still, if the point was show us what tribe we are in so we can evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, he did that very well.
I highly recommend this book. It’s not going to be an easy read for anyone, but I believe it’s important for everyone. Remember when your mother told you to eat your vegetables because they were good for you? That’s this book. If you read it, and get a taste for it, it will change you for the better.
Driscoll is always a treasure-trove of choice quotes. I wanted to close this out by sharing some of my favourites:
- “He was dumped like a prom date with tuberculosis…”
- “Shallow, entertainment-oriented, self-help, knockoff, consumer Christianity that offers bumper-sticker clichés in response to life’s crises fuels the movement to embrace atheistic one-ism. It’s weak sauce.”
- “Evangellyfish with no backbones will propagate the myth that God and Jesus are infinitely tolerant.”
- “The least likely person you’ll see in church is a single twentysomething male. He is as rare at church as a vegan at a steak house.”
- “When trying to evangelize, fundamentalists are more prone to use methods such as tract bombing and aggressive street witnessing, which are devoid of relationship and which unbelievers experience as the spiritual equivalent of a flasher in a trench coat.”
- “…let’s just admit that most people stink theologically and are about as ready to articulate basic Christian belief as a basset hound is ready to fly a helicopter.”
- “In our day of ample opportunity for Bible reading and instruction, we are like fools starving to death at the grocery store.”
- “Men are like trucks: they drive straighter when carrying a load.”
- “…we’d rather believe that faith is a stick and God is a piñata, and if we swing hard enough, health and wealth will come pouring down upon us.”