The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of our Calling by John Stott (IVP)
Apart from Billy Graham, few individuals influenced the global evangelical movement in the latter half of the 20th century as much as John Stott. Stott, who served 30 years at All Souls Church in London and was a principal author of the Lausanne Covenant in 1974, died in 2011 at age 90 after writing more than 50 books. The Radical Disciple provides what he called his “valedictory message.” Rather than leaving behind a hefty theological magnum opus as his final contribution, he gave his readers a succinct distillation of what he learned and taught during more than 60 years in ministry.
Stott examines eight aspects of radical Christian discipleship—nonconformity, Christlikeness, maturity, creation care, simplicity, balance, dependence and death. Characteristically, he gives attention both to the need for personal spiritual discipline that helps the individual believer grow into the likeness of Christ and to the need for social action that gives evidence of conversion.
As Stott observed in his summary of the 1980 statement “An Evangelical Commitment to Simple Lifestyle”—a document Stott clearly shaped: “We believe that when Jesus returns, those who have ministered to him by ministering to the least will be saved, for the reality of saving faith is exhibited in serving love.”
Stott left a precious gift to readers. Treasure it, and be changed by it.
Ken Camp, managing editor
Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive by Thom S. Rainer (B&H Books)
This easy-to-read book by Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway Christian Resources, grew out of an article he posted on his blog.
Its first section, “The Autopsy,” deals with problems ranging from what he calls “slow erosion” to churches that become obsessed with their facilities. Aptly titled chapters such as “The Past is the Hero,” “The Great Commission Becomes the Great Omission” and “The Preference Driven Church” reveal Rainer’s diagnosis of maladies that lead to a church’s demise.
The second section responds to the question, “Is there hope for the dying church?” Each of the three chapters in this section presents four questions worth consideration. All chapters end with a “prayerful commitment” and “questions for prayerful thought.”
Autopsy of a Deceased Church is eye-opening and thought-provoking. Everyone in church leadership should read it.
Skip Holman, minister of discipleship
Northeast Baptist Church