Alvin Reid achieves his intended purpose of showing the state of the church in how she responds to the unchurched. While part of the purpose was to show what churches lack, the main point was to show her how to turn this situation around. Reid makes some basic assumptions regarding the behavior of the church and the culture. He indicates that the church evades the culture (p. 37). He confirms that the Bible does tell believers to be separated from worldliness, however he also admonishes his readers that Jesus’ command is for believers to impact the culture with the gospel (p. 37). Per Reid, the church cannot maintain a stance that evades the culture.
Reid argues that the church tries to pervade the culture. He presents that these are the ones who do battle and seek to overpower the culture by might. He argues the battle is not between unchurched and churched people but between the forces of God and the forces of the Devil (p. 38). Reid’s conclusion is this cannot be a way that the church tries to reach the unchurched. Finally he presents the church as trying to invade the world. This method is one that Reid believes is best because it represents Jesus who invaded the world through his incarnation (p. 39). Reid’s conclusion is that in order for the church to penetrate the culture of the radically unchurched, it must be the power of God at work. It will be more than a change in perspective or desire for the church to invade the culture. It will take the church radically abandoning herself to God (p. 40).
Reid presents as evidence of his stand that a changed life can make a difference in the unchurched culture. He shares several stories about people who stood for what is right and based on that decision, later became some of the greatest influences in the lives of others; one of those was Christ (pp. 56-57). The purpose of these stories was to show how significant one person could be in the lives of people. Reid also illustrates that it will not be the one individual that changes the world, but the entire body, the church. This he says is how the world and the culture will be changed; when the individuals of the church bond together and work as the body should.
I cannot find anything in this book that I disagreed with. In fact, it is refreshing to see Reid’s candor and straightforward approach in his book. He outlines some of the problems that the unchurched have with Christians. One area in particular is the rudeness of believers. For example, he states we make a joyful noise at church but we are rude to servers in restaurants (p. 69).
One section that was interesting was how he explained the post-modern world and its effect on individual’s views. His overarching theme in this section was that the church cannot continue to “do” church the same way if she desires to reach the unchurched (p. 85). Reid posits with this information that revival throughout history has generally started with the young. This was a new learning for me. I believe Reid’s purpose for distributing this information is to awaken the church to involving the young people in the direction of the church. The old thought of the youth as the “church of tomorrow” has to be replaced with the thought that the youth are the “church of today” if any changes are to occur. Reid states that an effective foundation must be laid for the youth that includes teaching them to pray, to study the Bible, to witness, sharing in corporate worship and finally raising the bar for our youth (pp. 103-104). Reid’s plan for reaching the unchurched is done through a clear message, the giving of our testimonies and narratives, worship that draws unbelievers into an encounter with God, employing creative ways to communicate Christ and finally intentionally planting new churches that have the goal of reaching the unchurched (p. 107).
Reid’s book is one that a pastor or minister should read to have a better understanding of what the unchurched culture looks like. This book can be helpful to a leader as he or she prepares to develop ministries and outreaching tools. This book can also be helpful for Christian Education leaders. Reid’s continual admonishment is for the church to be more involved in evangelism. This book can help a church prepare its teachers first so they can be equipped to incorporate evangelism teaching into their curriculum. This book would also be useful for the average believer that is interested in keeping current on the affairs of the culture and ways to penetrate the world for Christ.
This book contributed to my understanding of the subject by showing me how the church must hold to the unchanging truth while being flexible to change those things that keep the unchurched from seeing the relevance of the church. Reid was clear in his presentation of the church’s need to utilize the New Testament pattern to be effective in a culture that sees the church as out dated and irrelevant. Armed with this information, any church can make radical steps to reach the radically unchurched.
(Come back next week for part 3, my reflection)