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Radically Unchurched: Who They Are & How to Reach Them Paperback – September 3, 2002
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A must read for churches who wish to really reach not only their world, but also their neighborhood for Christ. (Carolyn R. Scheidies Author and Journalist 2004-06-03) --1
From the Back Cover
“Reid’s heart burns with passion for the church to reclaim its mission and invade our unchurched culture.”
Unthinkable only decades ago, America is now raising up generations of people who are “radically unchurched”—those who have had little contact with a Christ-centered church and have no clear understanding of the gospel message. This state of affairs isn’t likely to change unless Christians can communicate the significance of their message to a culture that regards the church as irrelevant and outmoded.
Calling for a passionate overhaul of how Christians see and interact with individuals outside the church, Alvin Reid demonstrates a clear understanding of the distinction between the changeless basics of the faith and negotiable traditions, programs, and artifacts. He examines the causes behind the loss of America’s Christian identity and the resulting failure of the American church to understand and utilize the New Testament pattern of penetrating an indifferent culture with the gospel. Reid offers proven strategies for touching people who desperately need to be confronted with life-changing Christianity.
Alvin L. Reid (Ph.D., M.Div., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of evangelism and the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of seven books, including Light the Fire, Introduction to Evangelism, and Evangelism for a Changing World.
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My objections to the book would be that he is too optimistic about churchy approaches like prayer at the poles, or worship evangelism. These and similar approaches are exciting to Christians, but I do not believe there is solid evidence that they are effective in reaching hard-core unchurched people.
This book would be a good corrective for ingrown churches.
- Dennis McCallum, author Organic Disciplemaking: Mentoring Others Into Spiritual Maturity And Leadership
The author deals brutally and honestly with the ineptness of the evangelical church and the head in the sand attitude it has concerning its declining attendance and influence on American culture. Again and again, Reid drives home the point that things are not well with the evangelical church. The best part of the book is the How to reach them part. The author really adds nothing new to the well-read reader of evangelism; rather, he surveys the methodologies that have proven successful and presents them to the reader, with the warning that copying methodically without adaptation and a heart for evangelism will fail.
I did not like this book. I had to force myself to read it through. Yet, after doing so, I am glad that I did. There is little or no original thought or research in it. Sjogren's Conspiracy of Kindness, Rainer's Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, and Warren's Purpose Driven Church are all well quoted. The author also has an anti-charismatic bias. His ranting against Full Gospel churches on page 112 is shameful. To accuse charismatic churches as not believing the Bible is sufficient in its historic doctrine is a gross misunderstanding of charismatic theology. If my memory serves me right only one charismatic church, Brooklyn Tabernacle, was cited as a growth church, while dozens of Baptist churches were cited as growing.
Reid helped me understand that my evangelistic training taught me to share Christ with people who shared my basic values: a belief in God, reverence for the Bible, and a belief in ultimate right and wrong. Today, the radically unchurched do not believe in God, have no regard for the Bible and hold to a subjective value system. Reid points to Paul's sermon on Mars Hill for insight on how we can reach the radically unchurched. When preaching to the pre-Christian Jews, Paul spoke of Jesus and fulfilled prophecy, but when he spoke to the pagans on Mars Hill, he started with the existence of God, and told of God as creator and judge. The chapter on postmodernism is helpful. He succinctly describes what post modernism is and how it affects the way we present the gospel of Christ.
A minor area of concern relates to the age of the book. The publication date is 2002, which is relatively new in the scholarly world. However, with the changes that happen so quickly in the world of technology, six years is a long time. Today, chat rooms have been eclipsed by blogs, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and many other tools available on the web today. A minor update to the material would be good, although many people reading the book will make the connection between his ideas and a practical application using tools available today.
Dr. Reid successfully convinces the reader that it is imperative for believers to be obedient to the Scriptural mandate to share the gospel with everyone. He presents a large amount of evidence to prove his point and writes in a compelling manner. The idea that every believer is supposed to share the gospel is not new. It is a command from Jesus that has been repeated throughout the centuries, yet each generation must learn anew the task of reaching his own with His message.
Anyone who wants to be encouraged to be faithful in ministry and be presented with practical ways to share the gospel should read this book. Church leaders, college professors, high school teachers and many others can use the material in this book to engage their students in the effort of sharing the Gospel with those who are radically unchurched. The church grew in a culture that was very much like what ours is becoming in the USA and Europe.