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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Radical Was for Individuals, This Is for the Church
I'm not sure there's a book I've anticipated more than this one in the last year... and it was well worth the wait! David Platt's first book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, brought into focus the incompatibility of the Christian life with the American dream, and has had a huge impact on Christians -- particularly those in my generation. Many...
Published on April 19, 2011 by John Gardner

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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars David Platt calls us to get Radical Together
I have been very interested in finding out what all the buzz surrounding David Platt's best-seller "Radical" is all about. After hearing him teach some unconventional ideas at the Catalyst Conference in Dallas this year, I approached his newest offering "Radical Together" with some skepticism.

However, I found many concepts to applaud in the book. After all,...
Published on June 25, 2011 by Cole Phillips


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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Radical Was for Individuals, This Is for the Church, April 19, 2011
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This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
I'm not sure there's a book I've anticipated more than this one in the last year... and it was well worth the wait! David Platt's first book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, brought into focus the incompatibility of the Christian life with the American dream, and has had a huge impact on Christians -- particularly those in my generation. Many readers of that first book have begun to live lives of radical obedience to Christ, devoting themselves to prayer, reading God's Word, and spending their time and resources serving others at home and abroad. Many of these readers' stories are shared in this second book.

But one person being radical will not ultimately accomplish much. To see real change come in this world requires like-minded Christians to band together in local churches, with each person contributing their talents, resources, and energy to the cause of Christ as part of a unified body. What Radical did for individual Christians, Radical Together aims to do for churches. I believe it will succeed!

In the first chapter, called "The Tyranny of the Good", Platt urges churches to re-examine the use of their resources, facilities, and time. Most churches, he says, are not investing themselves in worthless, unfruitful, or unbiblical pursuits. Rather, they are held captive by the "tyranny of the good", spending themselves on labors that are good... but not necessarily best for advancing God's Kingdom purposes. Therefore, churches should "put everything on the table", reconsidering before God our ministry strategies, our worship services, our programs, our finances, and our policies, priorities, and procedures. "The gospel compels the church to go to God with everything we have and everything we do and then ask, `What needs to go? What needs to change? What needs to stay the same?`" (p. 9)

The goal is to determine how best each church can serve the Lord, but this may require letting go of some very good things. These good things tend to grip churches the same way that the "American Dream" grips individuals, keeping us from serving God with all we have.

If there was a problem with Radical, it was that many who read it might be tempted to feel guilty that they were not living radically enough, and that they were not adequate to be used for God's purposes. Thankfully, Platt addresses this concern in the second chapter, called "The Gospel Misunderstood". Since everything we do as Christians starts with the gospel, it is imperative that we understand it properly. Platt talks about two types of people who misunderstand the gospel; he calls them Andy and Ashley.

Andy has professed faith in Christ, believing (correctly) that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. However, because he believes himself already and eternally saved, he sees no need to "do" anything with his faith. His life bears no fruit of faith, and he has no concern for the lost, or for the poor. He is defensive when people start talking about "radical" faith.

Ashley, on the other hand, never feels as if she has done enough for Christ, and is never sure of her salvation. Reading Radical only made her feel guilty, and trying to live out the gospel is wearing her out. Andy and Ashley are both wrong about the gospel, and they are likely represented in every church in the world. But for both, a right understanding of the gospel will fuel both faith and works, and the worship that is the right response of every Christian to what God has done for us.

For the Ashleys of the world, Platt assures that "you will never be radical enough... and the beauty of the gospel is that you don't have to" (p.27). The gospel frees us from work, and from the effort to overcome our guilt before God. But "the gospel that saves us from work also saves us to work" (p.28). Through a helpful examination of the different usages in Scripture of terms such as "works", "deeds", and "acts of love", Platt provides a holistic understanding of how faith and works relate, with the simple summation: "Real faith always creates fruit." (p. 29)

From this point, he continues to show how guilt is an insufficient motivator for long-term Kingdom work, and that the gospel alone is sufficient to sustain and strengthen God's people for accomplishing God's purposes. In order to access this gospel, though, we need to depend entirely on God's revelation of himself. This is the focus of chapter 3, "God Is Saying Something".

Here he brings the attention of churches and church leaders back to where it always should have been: the Word of God. Contemporary Western Christianity so often believes we "need" programs, flashy music, and dynamic speakers in order to have a "successful" church. Platt challenges these assumptions and encourages us to focus on the things which God has clearly commanded in Scripture, and trust that God will be faithful to bless work that aligns with His plans.

The two strongest chapters in the book are the fourth and fifth, "The Genius of Wrong" and "Our Unmistakable Task". In the first of these two chapters we read about the great value God places on people. Not only is the gospel itself intended to bring people into relationship with God, but the people of God are to be the means by which the gospel goes forth. Whereas many churches use what Platt calls "manufactured elements" (performances, places, programs, and professionals) to attract nonbelievers, the Bible simply calls for Christians to love God, love one another, and serve those around them. Though it may seem like God is using the "wrong" sort of people (sinners) to accomplish his purposes, it is the "genius" of his plan to save those who believe through the folly of the preaching and ministry of Christians who have not yet been perfected.

Since this is where the Bible places the emphasis on ministry, why do churches emphasize other things so much? Platt exhorts us to devote ourselves individually and corporately toward loving people and developing disciple-making disciples. "We will never have enough resources, staff, buildings, events, or activities to reach all the people in our community, much less all the peoples in the world. But we will always have enough people. Even if they seem like the wrong people." (p. 75)

He follows this up with a call for a global evangelistic effort that completely consumes our churches. He says that "our unmistakable task" is to reach every people group in the world with the message of salvation, and that our motivation must be the return of Christ. Scripture says that before the Lord returns, the gospel must reach every people group in the world; therefore the church ought to be motivated for missions because we long for Jesus' second coming! Though some may disagree with this view of Christ's return (and Platt is careful to state that his "definition of unreached people groups may not be exact" and therefore it is possible that Christ could come back at any moment), hopefully everyone can agree -- regardless of one's particular system of eschatology -- with the statement, "But we do know this: Jesus hasn't come back yet, which means there is still work to be done." (p. 85)

If there is one thing in this book that readers may take the wrong way, it is Platt's very nuanced stance on local and global missions. While he is emphatic that missions must be both global and local (as opposed to either/or), there will undoubtedly be some who will believe he does not value local missions, thanks to sentences like this one: "I am convinced that Satan, in a sense, is just fine with missional churches in the West spending the overwhelming majority of our time, energy, and money on trying to reach people right around us." (p. 87)

However, he does do a good job of clarifying statements like that, making a compelling case that global missions actually drive local missions. Platt urges his congregation and his readers to devote 2% of their time -- roughly one week per year -- to sharing the gospel outside our local context, though one must be aware that many short-term mission projects are little more than glorified vacations that may do more harm than good (see Corbett & Fikkert's When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself). Done properly, though, these trips can make all the difference in the life of individuals and of churches, both here and overseas.

"Successful short-term missions must be a part of fueling a long-term disciple-making process in another context... At the same time, successful short-term missions must also be a part of fueling long-term disciple making in the sending church. As we go together into other contexts, we grow together in Christ. Our eyes are opened and our hearts transformed as we serve in situations that make us uncomfortable." (p. 94)

The final chapter ("The God Who Exalts God") and the book's conclusion give us our marching orders. Amid a series of vignettes sharing examples of people and churches who have made radical changes are several challenges rooted in the exaltation of God, who does all things for his own glory. Platt casts a vision that he hopes will spread throughout the churches, and I sincerely hope that it will! He gives us plenty of encouragement from Scriptures that promise success in our evangelistic efforts when we are motivated by the pursuit of God's glory among the nations. "For when our faith communities actually believe that God deserves the praise of all peoples, then our humble worship in the church will lead to an urgent witness in the world." (p. 109)

I highly recommend this book, though I suggest reading (or re-reading!) Radical first. This book is not a sequel per se, but it does build upon things covered in the first book, and in some ways assumes that the reader is familiar with some of the previous material.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars David Platt calls us to get Radical Together, June 25, 2011
This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
I have been very interested in finding out what all the buzz surrounding David Platt's best-seller "Radical" is all about. After hearing him teach some unconventional ideas at the Catalyst Conference in Dallas this year, I approached his newest offering "Radical Together" with some skepticism.

However, I found many concepts to applaud in the book. After all, it's not enough to just get personally radical for Christ, we are called to follow Christ with others in the context of the local church. Each chapter is built around an apparent non sequitur or shocking statement in order to illicit a response from the reader. Noting the abundance of churches and resources in the US, he challenges us to give sacrificially to foreign missions. He calls us to think globally beyond our own borders. He asks how often do we settle for the good, instead of choosing God's best? Platt skillfully describes the tightrope walk of faith and works and adds to our understanding of the meaning of grace. He emphasizes the centrality of prayer and the importance of adoption. He reminds us of the truth that God does not need us to further His kingdom, but He lovingly chooses to use us for His glory.

However, when Platt sets up a straw man through the stereotypical modern church, he veers off course. It seems Platt inherited all the trappings that go along with pastoring a wealthy mega-church. And it's within this setting that he feels confident in criticizing the excess that has become a part of those churches. He imagines scores of pastors who've decided they would rather not use the Bible as the basis for their teaching. It's just that those pastors aren't in the churches I know of.

The extent of the vision that he says today's leaders are calling us to is to dream about bigger buildings or how many people will attend in the future. Again, I can't imagine the context that just dreaming of great music and a killer light show would go over in.

He really misses the mark when he tells of a talk with a mega-church pastor friend who is apparently sharp enough to pastor such a church, but is too ignorant to imagine doing things in the more traditional way that Platt espouses. Instead of trying to equip the people of the church for ministry, this pastor thinks the staff should do all the ministry. However, I've never heard one serious leader teach or demonstrate that ministry is to be done only by the "pros." So, in the end, I am in complete agreement with Platt that building a healthy church depends on equipping the people for service. It's just that it's not as controversial of an idea as he seems to believe.

Overall, the book is a much-needed call to take big risks to do whatever we can to reach our world for Christ together, but it is marred by his need to set himself against other churches and pastors that he doesn't think measure up to his radical call. In the interest of full disclosure, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group sent me this book for free for this review.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wrong people, the right gospel, April 19, 2011
This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
Even smaller than his first book (this one is just under 150 pages without the study guide), Platt's sequel is no less thought-provoking even if it repeats several of the themes of his earlier book. Where "Radical" focused on the problems with American culture, "Radical Together" focuses on the problems within the American church. His purpose in this book is to unite the church, meaning the lay people, around a gospel-centered vision.

The six short chapters, each with a sub-heading, are as follows:

1.Tyranny of the Good: the worst enemy of Christians is good things in the church
2.The Gospel Misunderstood: the gospel that saves us from work save us to work
3.God is saying something: the Word does the work
4.The Genius of Wrong: building the right church depends on using all the wrong people
5.Our Unmistakeable Task: we are living -- and longing -- for the end of the world
6.The God who exalts God: we are selfless followers of a self-centered God

Like his earlier book, Pastor Platt weaves together compelling stories from his own life and that of his faith-community at Brooks Hill in Birmingham, Alabama, to craft an easy read. And like "Radical" the speed and slimness of the book belies the challenge within its pages.

Two chapters stood out for me. The first focuses on cutting the good to emphasize the greater. He tells of how his church slashed their budget, not because of tough times, but to spend their savings on spiritual needs around the globe instead of staffing needs within their church. Downsizing for the betterment of the world. How often we hear of budget cuts to line the pockets of corporate shareholders. Here Platt tells of budget cuts (of over $1.5 million) to serve impoverished churches in India and elsewhere around the world. These are not shareholders; these are sinners in need of grace, expressed in this case through the generosity of a gospel-driven church in North America.

The other chapter that stood out, chapter four, is centered on the people within the church, the wrong people. Platt argues that we should focus on building our people, not the places, or the programs, or the performances; not even the professionals, who seem to be the right people. Rather, we must "unleash people to maximize the ministry opportunities God has already planned and created for them," refering to Eph. 2:10 ("For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do"). He underscores this idea: "the key in all of this is an intense desire and intentional effort to make every one of our lives count for the multiplication of the gospel in the world." We who sit in the pews are the wrong people according to church marketeers, but as we depend on God's power we can be the right people to bring Jesus to our next-door neighbors, our coworkers or the unwitnessed people groups around the world. Are we ready to be radical together with the other members of our church?

Note: I received a free copy from Waterbrook Publishing but was not influenced to provide a positive review.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radical Together: A Power-packed Little Book, January 6, 2012
This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
Shortly after reading David Platt's book "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream" earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to read and review Platt's follow up book, "Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God." Amplifying what he laid out in his first book, in "Radical Together," Platt goes even deeper in urging the Body of Christ to follow God's call "to lock arms with one another in single-minded, death-defying obedience to one objective: the declaration of his gospel for the demonstration of his glory to all nations" (p. xi). The author makes the claim that this kind of obedience is worth any cost in order to see people from every nation glorify God. He challenges us as a Body, asking us what we are willing to change in our churches in order to work toward this goal.

This little book is a fast read that is power-packed. Personally, while I enjoy learning through books, reading has always been a chore I am willing to endure for the benefits that I gain. I was surprised when I rapidly read through "Radical Together" in two days. I was impressed, inspired and impacted by this little book. As I cruised along reading, I found my heart echoing "amen" and "that's right" with the points that Platt was making. "Radical Together" has an important message for the church today.

This book is best read as a sequel to "Radical." Although it can stand alone, in "Radical Together," Platt builds on the basic premise presented in "Radical," rather than reconstructing it. This second book is for those interested in challenging their community of faith to lay all the cards on the table and to ask God to show them what needs to stay and what needs to go in order to make His glory known to the people around them, at any cost. Although there are many good programs in many good churches, Platt challenges us to ask ourselves if these good programs and the money spent to keep them running are truly the best way to spend our time, money and energies in order to reach the people around us and the nations.

One thing that I appreciated in "Radical Together" is that rather than just focusing on how to reach out to those living in the communities around our churches, Platt encourages us to follow a higher Biblical mandate to make disciples of all nations. He presses us as a body to have the mindset to work together to take the gospel message to every culture at all costs; examining what some of those costs will be. However, this is not at the expense of neglecting those around us but as we reach those in our communities, they too can become united with us in taking the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world.

Some may feel that Platt uses guilt manipulation in his challenges for us to re-think the way we have always done things, but the author makes the point that radical obedience is not about responding to feelings of guilt, but rather it is about responding to the gospel. He says, "Any low-grade sense of guilt gets conquered by a high-grade sense of gospel that compels in us a willing, urgent, joyful, uncompromising, grace-saturated, God-glorifying obedience. We live sacrificially, not because we feel guilty, but because we have been loved greatly, and we now find satisfaction in our lives through sacrificial love for others" (p. 28).

"Radical Together" has also been criticized that it does not have enough practical application for how a community of faith can be radical together. I would like to applaud David Platt for not giving us another "how to" template which will just require our churches to fill in the correct blanks. Instead, Platt urges us to seek God together as a Body for how He would have us apply these ideas in our groups. The main thought that Platt tries to impress upon us is that we need to lay everything before God in obedience, allowing Him to show us what stays and what goes in the way we have always done church, so that our time and resources are freed up to spread the gospel message to the entire world.

While "Radical Together" is not for the faint at heart, I urge you not to avoid reading this book for fear of feeling guilty or convicted. I ask you, is there any better place to be than where the Holy Spirit nudges you to make changes in your life and in your church so that people from every nation may one day rejoice with you as they call Jesus their Lord? I know that I want to be radical together with David Platt and others so that people from every nation will see the glory of God.

DISCLAIMER: Although I received a free gift of "Radical Together" from Mission Frontiers, a mission strategy magazine, I was encouraged to write an honest review with no pressure to make that review positive. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Read It, August 20, 2011
This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
There's nothing more to add to the many fine reviews here; I merely want to add another 5 star rating, and would give it more stars if I could. I finally bought Radical recently but my daughter immediately took it and tells me how great it is so far. Then I had an airport layover and stumbled upon both Radical and Radical Together in the bookstore. I picked up Radical Together and read it on the plane. WOW! On the drive home from the airport I stopped at another bookstore and picked up four more copies of each book for distribution--if Radical Together is this good, Radical can't be bad. And this fall I'll lead a church group through it. If you haven't done so already, just read it! It's easily the most important book I've read in a long time, and I read a lot of books.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Puts words to the questions Christians should be asking themselves, April 19, 2011
This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
I recommend Platt's first book Radical, and this one may be even better. Platt is a young pastor at 32 and hopefully has many years ahead of him as a prolific writer, because I love what he has to write. Radical Together avoids many of the sins of typical Christian books and has many strengths. In this review I'll hit a few of the things that stuck out to me.

The book is short - coming in at 120 pages from Introduction to Conclusion. The end has a lot of great discussion material and questions for small groups based on each of the six chapters. The book is very readable. I read it this afternoon between taking care of kids and straightening the house. Don't mistake its easy readability for a lack of depth; in fact I believe that's one of this book's strengths.
Depth and great delivery

This book has theological and biblical depth. It's not shallow and is clearly informed by a broad understanding and application of Scripture. Whereas some books take one verse and twist and torture it until they get a book's worth of their vapid thoughts down flimsily masquerading as Biblical truth, it's clear Platt's reflections are the result of much study, prayer, and living as a Christ-follower. He isn't interested in easy answers or asking questions just to sound profound. Platt is on the journey of trying to follow Jesus for real in America. That carries some questions and difficulties with it - and he addresses them not with a simple sense of guilt or emotional volunteerism. He understands that the gospel is at the core of what it means to be a Christian - and that needs to show up in all we do. Radical focused on the lives of individuals, and Radical Together explores how the gospel can and should impact the life of the local church.
Questions every church should be asking

Platt's purpose for this book is to get every church asking "How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the Spirit of God with the Word of God for the glory of God in the world?" (p.3) In working through this question Platt offers six ideas - the topics of each chapter. They are:

One of the worst enemies of Christians can be good things in the church.
The gospel that saves us from work saves us to work.
The Word does the work.
Building the right church depends on using all the wrong people.
We are living - and longing - for the end of the world.
We are selfless followers of a self-centered God.

Some of those ideas are worded provocatively but I assure you there's actual meaning to them. As he explores these ideas Platt builds a biblical case for challenging the church and he does it with equal measures of irenic grace and brutal honesty.

A simple church, focused on the right thing

Platt questions many of the things that are taken for granted in American Evangelicalism. He doesn't do it in a pot-stirring, rabble-rousing, I'm-just-asking-questions-and-being-contrary-but-don't-really-have-anything-to-offer kind of way. Instead Platt shares his own journey as someone asked by a rich megachurch to be the pastor:

"To be honest, I hate budget season. As a pastor, I believe that is when the church comes face to face with how prone we are to give our resources to good things while ignoring great need. Christians in North America give, on average, 2.5 percent of their income to their church. Out of that 2.5 percent, churches in North America will give 2 percent of their budgeted monies to needs overseas. In other words, for every hundred dollars a North American Christian earns, he will give five cents through the church to a world with urgent spiritual and physical needs. This does not make sense." (p.16)

As a result of that process, Platt's church actually downsized its ministry budgets, cancelled some planned property improvements, and drained a large savings account to provide money for ministries around the world. This isn't shared in a self-aggrandizing way - Platt is simply sharing how this journey has played out at his church.

As I read this book I was reminded of a book I read a few years ago, Simple Church. The general idea was that for churches to really build disciples they need to focus on disciple-making and cut out a lot of programs that may be "good" but ultimately distract from the main purpose of the church. Platt takes the idea a bit farther, though, and I think in the right direction.
Spend less time at church

Platt states gracefully, biblically, and effectively what I amateurishly fumbled at in an old blog post. Many churches would be better off if more of their people spent less time attending and maintaining church programs, and more time bring the gospel into their contexts. One thing they did was outsource their VBS to individual homes, so instead of inviting lots of people from the community to come to the church campus for a gigantic program, the church equipped families to host VBS-like programs in their communities. These allowed them to build real relationships with the people in their neighborhoods, gave these individuals the responsibility and privilege of making disciples and spreading the gospel - and did it more effectively than yet another program at the church would have. That's not to say a VBS at the church would be bad per se - but Platt is happy his church "decided to stop planning, creating, and managing outreach programs and [started] unleashing people to maximize the ministry opportunities God had already planned and created for them" (p. 66).

You've got to read this book

As with Radical, I can't recommend this book enough to anybody who considers themselves a follower of Christ. It is a fantastic addendum to Radical and the logical followup I am excited for my wife Janelle to read this so the two of us can discuss the implications for our own lives. In it are many of the ideas she and I have spent so long talking about. This book lays out clearly some of the very things that led me to leave a career in ministry.

You owe it to yourself to read this book. But be warned; it will force you to face some of the questions and doubts you try to avoid when you feel them bubbling up. It will give a loud voice to that quiet one inside you that wonders if there's something more to being a Christian than going to a great church, being a part of a Bible study, tithing, and sponsoring a Compassion Child. And it may be the voice that takes your Christianity from a frustrating hobby to a radical lifestyle.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Extraverting Evangelists are Cooler than Other Christians, July 27, 2011
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This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
I decided to read the book, Radical Together by David Platt, at the suggestion of our pastor. Upon finishing it, I think I can best summarize my thoughts on the book by saying that Platt had a lot of good things to say, but he not only didn't say them very well (sometimes contradicting himself, many times overstating himself, and almost always showing only one piece of a much larger picture), but I think he overemphasized very extraverted traditional forms of evangelism and what it means to be "radical". I've read other reviews on this book and most readers seem to really, really like it. So obviously Platt is hitting cords with people and is able to motivate them in a way that just doesn't seem to connect with me. Different strokes for different folks and all that. (Could it be that Sensing individuals like the very clear, very physical forms of being "radical"? Both my mom and Pastor Don are S's and both like Platt's books. If you're an iNtuitive and you read this book, I'd love to hear your thoughts.) But this review is going to be about my response and thoughts on this book. So if you liked this book, that's great. But it really rubbed me the wrong way.

I could summarize Platt's six main points, but most other reviews already do that, so I won't spend the time. Rather, I'd like to focus on his underlying foundational premises and presuppositions. For the most part I agree with his stated points. We do need to be congregations who focus resources on more than just ourselves. We should have Bible-based preaching. We should encourage and equip congregants to build relationship with people in the community, helping people physically and spiritually. We should have a great concern for the poor and the orphans and the widow. I'm right on with all that. But Platt rests these "radical" (some might call them Biblical) behaviors on a foundation that I find at times to be shaky and at other times to be very one-sided. Platt clearly has a heart for evangelism and his book is primarily a focus on evangelism. And I don't have a problem with that. But I do have a problem with Platt's understanding of the church and her purpose and I do have a problem with Platt's statements that put evangelism at the pinnacle of all that is radical. It is one thing to focus on evangelism as an important part of what it means to be within a Christian community, it's another thing to make evangelism out to be all and (literally) end all.

*** Premises and Presuppositions ***

Platt makes several statements throughout the book that put in no uncertain terms his opinion of the purpose of the church:

"The only possible vision for the church of Jesus Christ is to make known the glory of God in all nations."

"God has called us to lock arms with one another in single-minded, death-defying obedience to one objective: the declaration of his gospel for the demonstration of his glory to all nations."

"If the ultimate goal of the church is to take the gospel to all people groups, then everything we do in the church must be aimed toward that end."

Platt apparently believes that the ultimate and overarching goal of the church of Jesus Christ is evangelism. He doesn't say it's a part of the church's calling, but that it IS the church's calling. Sure, we're supposed to go forth to all nations. God definitely wants to get the word out and he wants us to do some of the footwork on that. But evangelism is only one of several things that glorify God. (Of course, evangelism can also be done in a way that very much does not glorify God and makes him out to be something he's not. But that's a different topic of discussion.) There are other things, according to the scriptures, that also glorify God: our worship (John 4:24), our love for one another (Romans 15:7), our sanctification as we become more like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), and our service to others with the gifts God has given us (2 Corinthians 8:19). To imply that one of those things is more important than any other distorts the picture of what the church has been called to be and to do. If Platt had written from a premise that evangelism is one of the actions of the church, I'd feel much more comfortable with that. Writing that it's the "only possible vision for the church" minimizes the importance of other gifts within the church such as discipleship, hospitality, teaching, preaching, encouraging, showing mercy, etc.

I believe Platt also sensationalizes what it means to be "radical." He never defines the term, but the impression you get from reading the book is that in order to be radical, you must do something that can be measured, and when it is measured, it will big. Quitting your job and moving to a third world country to tell people about Jesus is clearly visible to the undiscerning eye. It is big. Going through the church budget and giving more away to overseas missions, or giving substantial amounts to programs that help orphans and widows, is measurable. And big. Platt may not have meant to imply this, but from reading the book it's fairly clear that if you can't see the action from a mile away, it's not radical. The Bible makes clear, though, that sometimes it's the little things that are radical. When there's another person in the congregation who gets on your very last nerve and who almost makes you want to just leave the church altogether, and yet through Christ's love and forgiveness you learn to love and forgive that individual in turn, that is radical. It's not easy to measure. It might not even be visible to those who didn't realize the animosity that was previously in the relationship. But that doesn't mean it's not entirely radical, especially in the midst of our self-protectionist, cut bait and run kind of culture. Or sticking with a congregation through thick and thin because we recognize that God has put us in the family, not to run away from it or to despise it, but to learn, within that context, how to hope, how to forgive, how to be patient, how to be kind, how to forbear and above all how to love well. That is radical. Sure, staying put might not look radical. And to be honest, sometimes it isn't radical. But staying put and learning to faithfully follow Jesus in a day to day setting as an imperfect person surrounded by imperfect people -- that is truly radical. If we're going to talk about being radical, we should be using the Bible's standard (forgiving 70x7 times or turning the other cheek) rather than using an outdated, Americanized view of what the term means.

*** Maybe it's not a contradiction, but it sure isn't very clear ***

Platt also seems to contradict himself a few times. The first time I think might actually have been intentional. In fact, the title of the chapter, "The gospel that saves us from work saves us to work" shows the problem. Though I understand what Platt was trying to get at (I think) -- that we are not saved by our works, so we should quit trying. Rather we are saved by Christ and the overflow of that is radical obedience to Jesus (shown in our actions/works) - I don't feel like he made that very clear in the chapter. I finished the section thinking, "OK, so we're supposed to stop working our butts off to the point of exhaustion so we can work our butts off to the point of exhaustion... for Jesus. How are those two things different again?" It simply wasn't clear and the chapter seemed like one big unresolved contradiction. But I also felt like Platt contradicted himself when talking about programs. In chapter one, Platt made very clear that sometimes we're so focused on programs that we're not actually following God's word. I agree to some extent with that. Sometimes a church that is focused on its programs is a church that's lost focus of itself as a body, the body of Christ. So what I got from chapter one was that programs should be demoted or done away with altogether in an effort to better align with the word of God. But then he proceeds in chapter four, in the section entitled "People, Not Programs," to suggest an alternative to big programs that take place in the church building. The alternative? Little programs taking place in people's homes. He doesn't change the what so much as the size and the where. So programs are OK as long as they're broken into little bits? As an introvert, I certainly have nothing against smaller group sizes. But if we're going to talk radical, shouldn't the difference be more than just quantity and location? Shouldn't there be a fundamental difference in how we relate to one another, not as co-participants in a program but as co-participants in the Kingdom?

What also wasn't clear was what Platt meant by certain words. I've already pointed out that he didn't define "radical" except through big, measurable examples. But he also never explained what he meant by "the gospel." He talked about the gospel quite a bit. But if I had never heard the term before, and I only knew about it through Platt, this is what I would discern from this book: 1) The gospel has been chained. (Implied on pages 45-46.) 2) The gospel needs to be unchained so that it will unleash God's people/the church. (Pages 25, 30, 34, and 46. Although on page 41 it's leaders who do the unleashing.) 3) The gospel gets people to do stuff that they wouldn't otherwise do (I didn't get page numbers for this. It was frequently stated, though.) and 4) sometimes the gospel is "of grace" and that gets people to do even more than they would have done. (Not as frequently stated. Seemed like a special case scenario.) I also felt like evangelism was never defined. Again, if I were an outsider looking in, I would assume from this book that evangelism consisted in convincing people (preferably in far away countries) to turn around and start convincing other people to turn around and convince yet other people about... something. ... probably about this "gospel" and Jesus and about how important evangelism is. Remember back in the days before the postmodern area when people could talk about Christianey stuff and assume that everyone else knew exactly what they were talking about? This book would have fit in really well back then. Even if Platt is directing his book toward a wholly Christian audience, I still think that some background, such as what he means when he says things, would help round out his message and make his meanings far more clear. As it is, he could very well mean that we just need to make people pray a prayer. And that's it. It's over. Check that person off and move on to the next one. I find that neither "radical", nor indicative of being "together."

*** Radical Together ***

Which brings me to one last pet peeve. When I see the words "radical" and "together" placed side-by-side, my impression is that the topic being covered will have to do with being together, being a community, in a way that is only made possible through God (which would therefore mean that it's radical). So upon reading this book and finding that most of the sections were really about how to organize programs and budgets in a large church setting, I was pretty thrown. Where's the together? If we're doing something simultaneously does that make it a "together" thing?

*** Walk the Word ***

I think David Platt is overall trying to make a good point. If you're going to say that you're a follower of Jesus Christ, then you should be reading the word. If you're trying to build your spiritual life only through reading books about the Bible rather than reading the Bible itself, you're going to end up being either a weak or a nominal Christian. If you're going to call yourself a Christian, but you're going to immerse yourself in the wealthy, self-centered American mindset rather than in the self-sacrificing, giving Christian mindset, then is your faith coming through in your actions? Are you a follower of Jesus or a follower of comfort? Are you walking the walking and not just talking the talk? These are certainly things that self-satisfied American Christians should be reflecting on.

But the way that Platt challenges people to think these things through, and the specific examples he gives as answers to the problems he's addressing, can go a long way toward creating guilt and misdirection among the people of God. You don't have to be livin' it loud to be radical. If your gifts are compassion and hospitality, those are things that are sorely needed. If your gifts are discipleship or teaching, the church needs you. If your gifts are preaching or showing mercy, God has a purpose for you. Evangelism is not the only call that God has placed upon his people. If you do not have the gift of evangelism, or if you are an evangelist who perseveres quietly through trial rather than running for greener pastures, that does not make you any less radical in God's eyes. You know what makes Christians truly and completely radical? Jesus. It's only through him that we're anything at all. His gifts are many and plentiful and cover a variety of purposes within the church. And by using those gifts within the context of a congregation, we can bring glory to God through worship, love for one another, sanctification, the use of our God given gifts, and evangelism. Now that's radical together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Live Intentional, April 30, 2012
This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
I'm pretty blown away by some of David Platt's teachings. He really is radical and he calls others to be radical Christians too. His book Radical Together calls churches to pursue a calling to actually do what Jesus taught, even though it goes against the mainstream. It might be uncomfortable. It might make churches lose followers.

David Platt refers again and again to James 2 and how it changed the way he lived and thought of church.

The theme of Radical Together seems to be that the "gospel that saves us from work also saves us to work." Platt exemplifies two kinds of people: those who strive and work to get to Heaven and never can do enough for God or church and those who live however they wish and trust in faith alone without ever experiencing a desire to do God's will.

Platt models his own church in Alabama after Jesus' commandment to go and make disciples. This is not optional.

This book isn't just for pastors or ministry leaders. I think everyone can benefit from the teachings and really think about living radically for God and changing the way church is approached.

Live intentionally for God.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clearer and more balanced call to radical living, January 29, 2012
By 
This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
In Radical Together, David Platt teaches on how entire churches can live radically for God's glory.

I had been a bit frustrated by his previous book Radical which covers many of the same themes. I felt that it risked getting people excited on their own about being radical and as a result rushing out to do things for God without necessarily receiving wise council about whether their plans were suitable for them and likely to be helpful. In Radical Together, there was a strong emphasis on the importance of sacrificial living as an endeavor for the whole Christian community and our need for each other which I think should help check any tendency towards rash individual action without watering down the call to radical living.

Another area where this book improves on radical is having a stronger emphasis on being saved by grace. I felt at times Radical (almost certainly unintentionally) communicated that the Christian life was primarily about what we do rather than what Jesus has done. In Radical Together, Platt is a lot more clear about the idea that good works don't make us Christian, but that being saved should motivate us to do good.

Also valuable in this book is Platt's attempts to get people to question the necessity of fancy buildings or programs for Christian outreach and discipleship. I think this is a helpful question to raise as we often seem to assume such things are required rather than considering whether a change of emphasis or direction would be appropriate.

Overall, I think this is a helpful, challenging book that is bound to make you think about how you are living out your faith.

Review copy courtesy of Multnomah Books
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Defining Radical, January 14, 2012
This review is from: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (Paperback)
I have been asked by Mission Frontier to write a review in response to receiving this book. Mission Frontier has been an incredible resource for me in my journey to keeping a passion for God's global mission alive in my heart. Go to Missionfrontier.org for many resources.
I have read David Platt's book, "Radical" and i was challenged in many ways. I found that "Radical Together"is just as challenging. "Radical Together" is thought provoking as there are a lot of stories that help to put Biblical truths into practice. His stories mostly come from his church and i am assuming that most were sparked due to the radical challenge. I trust that these stories will get your creative juices flowing.
Though i believe this book would be good for anyone to read, i do think it is bent more towards leaders of the church. It would be a good book to see your pastor or elders read, with David's goal being "to build upon Biblical foundations in order to consider practical implications for how a right understanding of the church fuels radical obedience among Christians". It is also good for small groups who will be able to put into practice some of these "right understandings of the church".
Many times i like to look in the bibliography to see who the author is reading and who is influencing his or her thoughts. David's bibliography is very short with mostly scripture as main sources of ideas. This may be a good thing but it can be difficult to find resources to give different or substance to the topic. Here is where i want to share some resources that the Holy Spirit has used in my life to encourage me to be on a mission with God. If you liked "Radical" or "Radical Together" then you might like these resources as well. Perspectives.org is a course that would benefit any christian, uscwm.org, and Advancethechurch.com. David actually speaks about "Radical Together" on a podcast at the latter web site . Check it out and read this book and then read it with your pastor and leadership! If you found this helpful please click the "help" button.

Some quotes that i liked from the book were:

"A prayer that he prayed day by day "Lord let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who i am" page 44

"We can't do enough. We can, though, trust in Christ, who has done enough." Page 28

"Let's show in the church a gospel that saves us from work and saves us to work.: Page 37

Thanks and may Jesus be glorified in all the earth.
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