294 of 311 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2011
If you are looking for a book that preaches a comfortable, easy, complacent version of Christianity, then this isn't the book for you. This book will hit you between the eyes. Kyle Idleman pulls no punches. If you are open to it, this book is like a giant mirror. It will help you take an honest look at yourself and realize what is truly in your heart. Jesus was never interested in drawing a crowd. He was interesting in gaining followers. Not of religion or legalism, but followers of Him. Idleman goes to great lengths to help the reader understand what it means to truly follow Christ. We live in an age where the Gospel and cost of following Christ are often softened and watered down. I think there are many people in American churches who have chosen to "follow Christ" with little or no consideration of the cost. Following Christ is about much more than just a "Get Out of Hell Free" card. It involves sacrifice, dying to self, and surrendering everything to Him. He may not ask us to give up everything, but a true follower is willing to do so if He does ask.
I think we all know someone who is obsessed with a particular celebrity. For example, say someone is obsessed with Britney Spears. A true fan probably is a fan on Facebook, has every CD she has ever made, and possibly even a scrape book of every magazine article ever written about her. If something new comes out, they will go to great lengths to attain it. But Jesus has never been interesting in having a fan club. He wants all of us. If you read this book with an open heart and mind, and are willing to be honest with yourself, this book will help you know if you are really a follower of Christ or if you are merely a fan of His. It is one thing to CLAIM to be a follower, it is an altogether different thing to actually LIVE like a follower of Christ. Jesus is not interested in mere lip service.
I have to ademit, that I spent a lot of years as a fan of Jesus. I knew all the right lingo, all the rules (don't drink, don't swear, don't have sex before marriage) and I knew a lot of knowledge about Jesus and the Bible. But what I didn't realize is that Jesus is interested in the heart. It is entirely possible to look great on the outside and be rotten on the inside. After awhile, I started going through the motions of prayer, worshiping God, and reading in the Word, but my heart wasn't really in it. I cared more about looking good on the outside than the state of my heart. I claimed to love Jesus, but in reality, it was all about me. I realized I wasn't following the Jesus of Scripture, I was following a false version of my own creation. A version that didn't demand too much, expect too much out of me, or expect total, unconditional surrender. I honestly believed that I could have Christ and my own way. Looking back, I can see now how completely self-centered I was. Even when a close friend cared enough to point this out to me, I didn't listen. Instead, I got angry and defensive. I claimed that Jesus was Lord of my life, but when it came right down to it, I was Lord of my life. But no more. Now, I can honestly say "I am not a fan of Jesus."
128 of 139 people found the following review helpful
In brief, I became a fan of Kyle Idleman and Not A Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus.
Let's be honest. This is a popular sub-culture of Christian writing -- this concept of being fully devoted, going all out, not standing on the sidelines, and becoming more than just a "Christian."
But Idleman proved he could take a subject that is being written about often, and provide a fresh take and motivating spin on this concept.
Here's why I loved this book:
1. His heart.
Idleman time and time again displayed the authenticity and transparency my generation (20s) love. I respect him for his willingness to share his authentic self, not just the pastor self who occasionally says bad words.
2. His humor.
This was easily the most surprising aspect of the book. I found his footnotes and off-handed side comments to be hilarious and refreshing.
3. His message.
More than anything, I believe his message is one that needs to be heard time and time and time again. As a pastor of the 5th largest church in American, I imagine it can be tempting to not want to offend people and therefore lose "customers." But Idleman makes it clear, he is no longer going to just create fans (people who stand on the sidelines, know about Jesus, and cheer for him). He is going to help create followers (those who are in the game of becoming more and more like Jesus by KNOWING him).
Personally, I can tell you this was a timely read as I was preparing to give a message about giving your lives to Jesus. I wasn't presenting the full cost. Now, I will. I don't want fans of Jesus. I want followers.
This is a book for pastors, ministry leaders, lifelong Christians and first time Christians.
Become a fan of Kyle Idleman and Not A Fan. I know I am.
816 of 946 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2011
Our Bible study group was looking for another book we could go through together. Our study group is comprised of parents of teens and the intent of the group is to find ways to raise more Godly young men and women and become more adept Christian parents. We decided to take a break from overt parental study and go through a book that would develop us each spiritually. Since our church youth pastor highly recommended this book, we each bought one and got started.
When I downloaded the Kindle version of "Not a Fan," I quickly scanned through the Amazon reviews and noted the preponderance of positive reviews. Even the less enthusiastic reviews were positive. One 3-star reviewer's only criticism of the work was that the author did not advocate a more radical approach to Christianity.
I was raised in a very legalistic Christian denomination and now have a finely tuned antenna for calls to legalism. As I read through the book and we discussed it, I understood and resonated to the call for a deeper commitment to Christ. But I became more and more concerned with the underlying message of the book. For about the first 8 chapters or so, I kept hoping that the author was simply calling the Body of Christ to a deeper commitment. But the author finally clarified that when he is talking about his definition of "follower" or "fan" he is really talking about "saved" or "lost." From my reading of his book, the author believes and attempts to make the case that while there may be a large population of people who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, only the most radical and extreme are truly "Christian" and are therefore saved. Throughout the book, he gives examples of people who fit his definition of extreme Christianity, though to me some of the examples were fairly prosaic. In his view, continually expressed throughout the book, (despite his caveats to the contrary) it appears that one's actions (works) are the gauge of one's salvation, not acceptance of Christ as one's Savior.
Of course, the terms "radical" and "extreme" are, by definition, relative and vary based on any defined population group. I remember reading about a group of "radical" Christians who, to help fulfill an obscure prophecy regarding the return of Christ, are engaged in trying to breed a cow to carry an umblemished red calf. Since it must be born in Israel, they have been trying to figure out a way that they could first breed such a calf, and then smuggle the cow into Israel so the calf can be born there and thereby hasten the return of Christ. Are those actions radical enough to qualify to be saved? Of course that's crazy, but I'm using hyperbole to make a point. What exactly is extreme? How extreme does one "need to be" to be saved?
I spent some time in Scotland where only about 5% of the population attends Christian services. Why? After hundreds of years of wars waged in Scotland between Christians of different denominations, Christianity has largely been rejected. These were radical, extreme Christians who fought the wars against each other. They profoundly believed they were right and the other denomination was wrong and were willing to die for those beliefs. The point is, a call to "Extremist Christianity" without a clear idea of what is defined as being extreme, with the underlying message that if you aren't extreme enough in what you "do", you aren't really saved does not strike me as a helpful Christian message.
In my opinion, the book's message works to tear down the Body of Christ, not build it up. It causes believers to judge others as not commited enough and therefore lost. "Oh, I see that you are only a fan of Christ, not a true follower like me because you don't do (insert your personal belief here)" Time after time throughout the book, it calls on follower's of Christ to question their personal salvation in a kind of smart-alecky "ha-ha bet you aren't REALLY a follower" way; to question whether they are "only" a "fan" and not saved, or if they are a "true follower" who will be saved. This is a corrosive message to anyone's assurance of salvation.
Since terms like "extreme" and "radical" are relative, people who accept the core premise of the book can never know if they are "committed" enough to be saved. That is antithetical to my understanding of the Good News of Salvation and the assurance that Christians can have through faith in Christ's robe of righteousness that covers them.
The good news of the Gospel is fairly simple and I praise God for it! I received such a blessing from the book "Gracewalk" that I plan on reading it again after studying this book.
Our society today is polarized and continues to become more polarizing. Perhaps that helps explain the positive responses that many Christians seem to have with this book. I must note that the majority of our study group found "Not a Fan" to be beneficial and did not have the reaction to the content that I had.
By the way, there is an interesting circular logic to books like this that attempt to brand one group as something inferior and another group as superior. And you don't get more inferior/superior than lost/saved (fan/follower). Anyone who criticises the premise or content is automatically suspect and assigned to the inferior group by definition.
No, I'm not a fan of "Not a Fan."
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This review of Kyle Idleman's Not a Fan comes a little bit late. The book released almost two years ago and has sold over a half million copies. I have been meaning to read it for some time, but something else always seemed more urgent. However, with Idleman's follow-up releasing in the next month--a book that is likely to hit the list of bestsellers before Not a Fan has fallen off--it seemed logical to read the first before the second.
Not a Fan is a call to become a completely committed follower of Jesus. It is hardly alone in this category, this subgenre of Christian living or spiritual growth. Idleman's unique angle is in focusing on the distinction between fans and followers. He looks at the Evangelical landscape and sees that there are many people who are mere hangers-on, mere enthusiasts for Jesus. "It may seem that there are many followers of Jesus, but if they were honestly to define the relationship they have with him I am not sure it would be accurate to describe them as followers. It seems to me that there is a more suitable word to describe them. They are not followers of Jesus. They are fans of Jesus." In these circles Jesus is almost indistinguishable from a celebrity with committed fans "who know all about him, but they don't know him."
Idleman wants more than this. He wants more than this for himself, for you, for me.
He shares many good insights into contemporary Evangelicalism. "My concern is that many of our churches in America have gone from being sanctuaries to becoming stadiums. And every week all the fans come to the stadium where they cheer for Jesus but have no interest in truly following him. The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren't actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them." There is no doubt that this is true. He pushes back against easy-believism, against the kind of seeker friendliness that is all promise with no commitment. "Following by definition requires more than mental assent, it calls for movement. One of the reasons our churches can become fan factories is that we have separated the message of `believe' from the message `follow'." Again, this is very true, and refreshing to hear from a pastor who leads one of the most mega of America's megachurches; his Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, is the 5th largest church in America with over 20,000 in attendance each weekend.
He calls on those who profess faith in Christ to diagnose the nature of their relationship by asking these questions:
Have you made a decision for Jesus or have you committed to Jesus?
Do you just know about Jesus, or do you really know him?
Is Jesus one of many or is he your one and only?
Are you more focused on the outside than the inside?
Are you a self-empowered fan or a Spirit-filled follower?
These are helpful questions that can lead to an accurate diagnosis. There are far too many church-goers who love only what Jesus does for them or how Jesus makes them feel. The follower-fan distinction is a helpful way of understanding the difference and provides a clear call to a clear commitment.
Still, I have a few concerns with the book.
While follower-fan is the book's primary metaphor, Idleman also relies on words, phrases and concepts related to teenage romance. When he wants a Christian to understand whether he is a fan or follower, Idleman calls him to DTR, an acronym for "Define The Relationship." That teenage feel persists throughout the book and is accompanied by quite a lot of puerile humor. Jokes abound, as do references to pop culture. A little bit of humor and a little bit of sarcasm would be one thing, but Idleman relies on it too much and it grows tiresome. It becomes clear why the book has such appeal to a younger demographic.
As Idleman calls the reader to define their relationship with Jesus, he looks to the New Testament and to several stories of people whom he says needed to do that very thing. But I think he pushes a little bit too hard to squeeze these stories into his grid. It's not that what he says is outright wrong; rather, he seems to miss the point of these incidents from the life of Jesus and to stretch them just a little bit too far.
But my greatest concern is that Idleman describes the gospel as the gateway to the Christian life (which it is!) but not as the power and the joy of the entire Christian life (which it is as well). Without this focus on the gospel as the very center of our commitment to God, the book slips into being a call to commit to Jesus and then to commit to try harder. The fact is that we will all be fans at times, and only the gospel offers us the deepest peace, forgiveness and motivation to carry on. Unfortunately Idleman concentrates on the gospels so much, and the epistles so little, that he offers an unbalanced and incomplete view of Christian living. The reader concerned about his tendency to be a fan instead of a follower will learn to evaluate himself by his fervor rather than the finished work of Jesus Christ. Robert Murray McCheyne wisely counseled Christians, "For every one look at your sins, take ten looks at Christ." Some of that wisdom would have gone a long way here.
Not a Fan bears a clear resemblance to two other recent bestsellers: David Platt's Radical and Francis Chan's Crazy Love. Like these books, Not a Fan identifies our tendency toward complacency. Interestingly, it may also have anticipated their follow-ups: Follow Me and Multiply, books that look to the command to be a follower. These are popular and important themes in the church today, and for good reason. If Not a Fan was the only book in the genre, there may be reason to recommend it, but as it stands, there are other authors who are saying similar things, but with clearer reference to the gospel. I would recommend Platt and Chan's books ahead of Idleman's.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2012
There is enough in preceding reviews that outlines the contents of the book, so I won't belabor that. I have a different concern.
This is the kind of book that I found helpful when I was a newly enthusiastic Christian in high school in the late '60s. (Some will remember The Taste of New Wine by Keith Miller. That was "radical" at the time.) In other words, the contents of this book can be found in many popular Christian books that have been around for some time. That's not bad. The message is good--this is the life expected of a disciple of Jesus. In other words, it's the "ordinary" Christian life. So this is a reincarnation of what's been out there, but marketed in the manner that Zondervan does so well.
Speaking of marketing, what is ironic is that in the back of the book Zondervan offers tee-shirts and bracelets for purchase so that you can indicate that you're a fan of "Not a Fan." Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship would be much more significant, but probably not as marketable. Of course the response will be that most church folks won't read that book--that it's asking too much of them and it's not "relevant." (Read C. S. Lewis's introduction to Athanasius's On the Incarnation to find out why we don't read the "old" books any more...and his insistence that we should read at least one old book to every new book.) Just as "Not a Fan" preaches that we should expect more from disciples of Jesus, we should expect more from parishioners who have been commanded to love God with their minds.
So, if you find yourself just beginning to get serious about discipleship, this book might be a good start for you. But if you are already on that path and/or if you're used to reading substantive secular books, read Basil the Great's sermons on "Social Justice" or Calvin's "Institutes" or Bonhoeffer's "Cost."
114 of 139 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2012
If you've read this book, and it has deepened your walk with Christ, I am sincerely, genuinely happy for you. However, if you have not read this book, you really need to be careful as I found it has the tendency to encourage legalism and self-righteousness. Basically, it sets up readers into two categories: the fans and the followers. The fans are those who root for Jesus, but won't necessarily give up everything for Him. The followers are those who will pay any price for Jesus. There are a couple of problems with this viewpoint. First, the theme of the book is how much better followers are than fans, not "following" versus "fannish" behaviors, but the actual people themselves. This sets up one group to feel superior to the other. If you read the Bible, the only time Jesus ever got really angry was at self-righteous religious people; in fact, He held them in the utmost contempt. However, if you read Not A Fan and decide that you are, indeed, a follower and not a fan, you automatically can pat yourself on the back as being elevated above other Christians. Congratulations.
Not A Fan continually focuses on what YOU need to do to become a more devoted follower, what YOU should give up and what YOU should commit to and what YOU should tithe. Mr. Idleman cites himself as an example of this in stating that he looked at his accounts to make sure that nothing received more money than tithing (maybe in publishing this fact he missed that whole not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing bit, but oh well [Matthew 6:3]). This is but one example of how, in Mr. Idleman's view, YOU should let nothing be more important than Jesus. The problem with this belief is that it indicates that God needs our help to do His mighty, awesome, and perfect work, and elevates us by our own hand, when in fact, it is only through Him that we can work, not the other way around.
I read this book and, like some others who gave a one- or two-star review, immediately became plagued with neurotic doubt. What if I wasn't good enough? What if I wasn't a big enough fan? Should I deliberately piss off my husband and my family to prove what a good and devoted "follower" I was? Well, I didn't see the benefit of that, so I began to doubt if I even was saved at all. Church became anxiety-provoking and I became very down about Jesus and my relationship with Him...
...until I read Grace Walk: What You've Always Wanted in the Christian Life by Steve McVey, who said, "relax, you ARE saved, you ARE righteous, trust in Jesus, let Him work through you and all will be well." This approach is hardly watered down; in fact, it is very powerful. If you trust in Jesus and not your own works, the anxiety goes away. Being a Christian does not mean taking on a long set of duties, chores, or obligations, it means trusting in the Lord by letting His faith and love for you in. If that results in mighty works, that's absolutely wonderful, but you can't say, "see? This proves I'm a follower. Yay, me!" I feel that Mr. Idleman's message, though well-intentioned, results in people feeling either guilty or prideful, two things Christians are not supposed to feel.
53 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2012
I found this book to be a challenge to read at every page. Mostly because of how condemned I felt reading it (and rightly so). By Kyle's definition; I am a fan.
What I'm not sure about is if I can ever be a follower. Does that mean that I should go back to my life of sin and selfishness, only striving to satisfy my needs of the flesh? If I can't be a follower, than Jesus doesn't know me and the life changing decisions that I have made thus far are meaningless.
What I understand from reading this book (which supports Luke 9:23 and Luke 18:21-23) is that Jesus is not interested in having a relationship with me because I'm unsure if I could deny himself everything. I desire to and pray for the courage, fortitude and opportunity to become a FOLLOWER of Christ, but if I have not worked out all of my internal struggles by the end of my earthly life I will be lost and apart from our Lord.
This book misses a big opportunity to demonstrate the "so you're a fan...what next" and only focuses stirring up an already ferocious internal battle that so many of us (if not all of us) struggle with. I believe we are all challenged to battle those internal issues but this book fails to provide any "weapons" (maybe I missed it) to help us go to war with our internal demons. It does a great job at identifying and categorizing those of us who don't have it all figured out yet. I found `Not a Fan' to be discouraging and I'm honest enough to realize it's in part because of me.
72 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2012
...after reading the book, there's probably not one in a hundred that truly fit what the author is calling for. My pastor got all fired up and was going to have a class with this book as its guide. To be honest, it seems that the church of today is wanting to find the answer in a self-help book, then say "it will change your life!" Why can't we just bury ourself in God's Word and ket the Holy Spirit change us?? I'm really tired of the "gotta read it" best sellers that lazy preachers want to use to motivate their church. Spend time in His WordEord and save your money.
61 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2012
Why might a book receive a negative review? A book might be called irrelevant when it answers questions nobody is asking. A book might be called unhelpful when it correctly identifies a problem but fails to provide any meaningful solution. Some books are written in a style that make them difficult to read. Some books are too long, some too short. And then there are some who deserve a particularly negative review because they are potentially dangerous, harmful, and divisive.
Not a fan is one such book. By design it divides the Christian community into two groups: fans and followers. Presumably, fans are bad, followers are good. Followers will be with Jesus in heaven, fans will be disowned and are out of luck. The author claims to know the difference between these two groups, and sounds very sure of himself. According to himself, he is in. He is also quite clear on the marks of those who are out.
As has already been pointed out by other reviewers, most of what the book is about is what fans need to do differently to become followers, with the motivational force being one of fear.There is little in the book about how God, through His spirit, is in charge of the process, very little about grace, and very little about God's love and unconditional acceptance.
I am particularly concerned that this book promotes a divide within a body of believers, or even within a family or a marriage, between alleged RINO Christians (Redeemed In Name Only) and Super-Christians who presumably have attained the status of Complete Commitment, Total Surrender, Total Forgiveness and Perfect Submission. Not only is such perfection impossible this side of heaven, but Jesus made himself quite clear that He did not approve of the Pharisees who claimed to be able to be perfectly obedient and holy. The last thing we need in our churches today is more Pharisees, who claim to be able to judge who is in and who is out of God's favor. The last thing we need in families, or in marriages, is for one member to sit in judgement about whether the other is fully committed to Jesus.
What we do need is for people to realize that the line between belief and unbelief goes right through the center of their own heart, for people to admit to themselves that most of the time they are like Paul in Romans 7, or like the tax collector in Luke 18. What we need is for churches to be the safe places where people can explore the dark places of their own hearts, and dare to expose them to the grace of a loving God. What we need is for more people to be honest enough with themselves and each other to admit that sanctification is overrated, and that our fight against sin is much like Breathing Under Water.
If you are someone who really appreciates Not a Fan, you might consider also reading a book like 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me), so you and I together can learn to be Jesus to one another, instead of Pharisees to one another.
If we need to point to any biblical division among Christians, the most relevant one I know of can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:12, and I can assure you that all of us reading this are on the same side of that divide. Not only that, but the way we switch from one side to the other does not depend on anything we do, but is entirely under God's control.
32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Just when every pastor of every mega-church seems to be coming out with a book on how to really follow Jesus... which of course ties in with a sermon series and sells thousands of copies all over... there's another one...
I was really expecting that this book wouldn't be challenging, but it is. Big time.
Enough of the "come follow Jesus and you'll have every blessing you can imagine". how about "Come and die. Come and give it up. Come and surrender."
This book is in "Come and die" territory, and I recommend it highly. If you've had enough of the shallow Christianity practiced and even taught by so many... this is your book.
I do not want to be a fan.