I was not sure what to expect when I began to read Brandon Hatmaker's book. It was his first book, it was my first time really becoming acquainted with him, and also the first time I read some of the kinds of material/information/thoughts that are in a book like this.
Brandon doesn't hold back on what he believes should be at the core of the modern day New Testament church - serving the neglected. He lays out his belief through honest, written conviction and verses and stories straight out of scripture. I mean honestly, how can you argue with that? :)
I've been on a journey as of late redefining what scripture claims that "discipleship" really is. I was pleased and excited to see that Brandon touched on this - which only helped me think more on the subject. On page 109 he wrote, "The problem with our current forms of discipleship is not necessarily found in what we do well; its found in what we've neglected." I found that to be strikingly insightful because we, as a church culture, usually try and fix what we are already doing. We spend hours upon hours searching for a solution to something that might not even be a problem. Instead, it might behoove us to try and figure out what we may be lacking.
If the only thing that I read in the whole book was the first sentence on page 127, it still would have been worth it for me. The sentence is very short, but reads as follows: "It is risky to be different in the church." Many of us out there have have felt that prompting. We have wanted to step out, risk something, challenge the system, and just plain ask "Why?" However, we often fear what the response will be. This sentence along only encouraged and challenged me to live the life in response the Gospel that I feel God has always been, and always will, be calling me to.
One of the last things that I thoroughly enjoyed about the book was the Brandon did was that he encouraged you to seek the Spirit's help in figuring out what your family's, or church's, or your own next step might be. He gives examples of what you could do, or what Austin New Church did. But in the end he tells you that you need to figure it out.
I think many times we can read a conclusion in a book, and convince ourselves that "Oh, that will never work with me. I couldn't possibly do something as drastic as that." And that will ease our conscience until the Spirit brings that topic back up in front of us. But every Christian has the ability, and responsibility, to ask the question: "God, what do you want of me?"
Brandon, thank you for the challenging words, the stories, shedding light on scripture, and risking to bring a message that isn't very popular yet in the western church. I appreciate it more than you know.