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Some Christian leaders contend that we are divided and ineffective in our witness because the Western world has turned against us and the church has abandoned the truth of the gospel. Others see a hostile, hurting world and blame the church for failing in compassion for the kind of sinners Jesus joined for dinner.
And then there's Richard Stearns, president of World Vision and a former corporate CEO, who faults the church for a lack of will to finish the mission Jesus left behind for us. Following up on his successful first book, The Hole in Our Gospel, Stearns observes in Unfinished: Believing Is Only the Beginning (Thomas Nelson) that "affluent, comfortable, and distracted" Christians no longer burn with passion to change the world. Yet we still want to know our lives matter. We want to know we're living out God's purpose for us. We don't want to confine our Christianity to Sunday morning. Stearns seeks to reinvigorate our Christianity with zeal to resume the revolution launched by Jesus so we can storm the very gates of hell.
But if we're going to finish the mission, Stearns warns, we'll need fewer cheerleaders and more drill sergeants commanding from our pulpits. Consumer-oriented churches, popular among Western Christians, draw especially pointed criticism from Stearns.
"Better the church should shrink than risk losing its God-given purpose and identity," he writes. "A community of true disciples authentically living out the teachings of Scripture is far more attractive than a latte bar or a Vegas-style musical performance."
Stearns peppers Unfinished with biblical quotations and does not shy away from Jesus' hardest teachings. He challenges readers with his personal story of giving up so much money and prestige when he left the corporate world for the nonprofit sector. But he does not suggest that all Christians must follow his example. Rather, he encourages Christians to pursue their unique ...