Bob Roberts, Jr. asks the question "What if our Western view of Church isn't God's view of church? in his new book Lessons from the East: Finding the Future of Western Christianity in the Global Church. **I received a copy of the book for free from Handlebar publishing to facilitate my review. All opinions are 100% mine.**
The book is geared toward church leaders, but even as a lay person, I got a lot out of it. Bob Roberts Jr. writes about his global experiences, the people he's met, getting people to view people as Jesus would, stepping out into the domains in their communities, and the Global Collaboration Community.
The book is separated into 3 sections:
- KINGDOM VISION and STRATEGY
- KINGDOM HEARTS
- KINGDOM ACTION
"So, which gospel are you preaching: the gospel of religion, the gospel of church growth, the gospel of your personal reputation, or the gospel of the kingdom of God?"
Another question at the end of Chapter 7 (ENGAGING OTHER FAITHS: From
Afraid and Isolated to Loving and Involved) asks:
"We need to be big enough to love people who are different from us--to respect the differences without painting people as evil. Some of us can't even respect people who cheer for a different sports team. Can't we do better than that with the love of Christ and power of the Spirit?"
I was inspired by his stories about how he and so many people from different global backgrounds and religions love and accept each others' differences and LOVE each other. They love each other as human beings. He has prayed with Muslims and his imam friends have been to Christian churches. They are building bridges between the two communities in other parts of the world to help each other and to try to keep each others' communities safe.
Bob describes himself as "just a country boy from East Texas." He never envisioned himself as a global leader, but that just goes to show that sometimes God has bigger plans for us. The lessons that he's learned from global pastors around the world are nothing short of inspiring. As I said, even as a lay person, I feel like I've taken so much away from this book. To hear the stories and to actually think about what some of these global Christian pastors and leaders have to go through every day to live out their Christian faith is amazing and it truly shows how great God really is.
Bob basically says that Western churches sometimes get so hung up on their numbers~~how many people attend, how much money they are bringing in, etc. that they're forgetting the real reason for the church. It's not to have the most spectacular sermon or church service that will keep people riveted. It's about connecting with our community and bringing people to Christ. How can we do that by sitting in a church building for 1 or 2 hours each week? We're already with the "Christians." How is that helping to expand the Kingdom of God?
As Americans, we tend to lead sheltered lives. And even the people who think they are "poor" in America are not poor in comparison to a lot of people in other countries in the world. AND for the most part, we don't have to fear for our lives every time we want to come together with other people who share our faith. I'm sure most of you feel safe driving to and walking into your church, but in a lot of other countries Christians are the minority and they DO have to fear for their life.
I think the most important thing that I took away from this book right now is that I need to find the courage to expand my horizons and not be so afraid of everything that's going on out in the world~~because let's face it~~some scary things have been happening. There are good people out there who are working together to make the world a better place one domain at a time. We all NEED to know about those people and this book helps us "meet" them. It gives us a new way of thinking about being a Christian~~or rather an old way, as taught in the Bible~~that we've all forgotten about. We need to see people the way Jesus sees people.
I'm sure if I re-read the book I'll gain more and more knowledge each time. Sometimes it takes some time for things that you read to get from your brain to your heart. I'm not going to lie. There are some parts of me that still don't want to be as broken down as I need to be to become like these great Christians. The more I read the book, the closer I can get, though.
Bob Roberts Jr. writes a book that might not be of the popular opinion in America. He was brave for writing it, but it makes so much sense.
Bob Roberts Jr. is the founding pastor of NorthWood Church in the Dalls-Fort Worth area and has been involved in helping plant over 200 churches. NorthWood and the Western churches Bob has helped start have engaged with fellowships in Australia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, Vietnam, Belize, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, Mexico, and Nepal.
You can find Lessons from the East on Amazon:
You can find out more about the Global Collaboration Community at http://www.glocal.net/