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Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation Paperback – May 1, 2012
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Teamwork according to Stetzer is what makes the dream work. Maybe not in so many words, but thematically speaking. The author appears to embrace the church as an institution- more about that in a bit- and as an institution it is composed of a group of individuals under godly leadership. He writes, “You can unite with others in your church to put the world on notice by living God’s Word together in the midst of hurting, seeking, unhealthy humanity” (54). Again, Stetzer encourages churches to form and work together as a team to undermine Satan’s Kingdom.
But while Stetzer recognizes that the church is an institution, he also believes she should be incarnational. For the author, it is not an either/or proposition, it’s both. The danger Stetzer believes is when the church backslides into simply being an institution or gets so caught up in being incarnational that she is guilty of preaching a social gospel. Stetzer believes in the proclamation of the gospel and the demonstration of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ in the lives of his believers. He writes, “We do it by going, we do it by proclaiming his truth with clarity, but we also do it by walking “wisely toward outsiders…” (198). Subversive workers in the Kingdom walk and talk.
Finally, Stetzer believes churches small in number can make a huge difference! “As agents of transformation in God’s subversive kingdom,” he writes, “we don’t need to apologize for being few in number focusing on one little area or need around us, making what seems a small impact” (38). This is an encouraging message! God uses small things to make a radical difference in the world, thus Jesus’ illustrations comparing the church to Salt, Light, and Yeast, all seemingly insignificant yet powerful ideas.
This readers has only two criticisms regarding the book. First, it is difficult to read at times because it is so meaty. Stetzer spends a lot of time supporting his argument. His arguments are sound, but this reader would have liked to see the author spend more time illustrating his argument rather than defending it. Second, and this ties into the first criticism, it would have been a stronger book if Stetzer showed his readers what it looks like to implement the strategy he talks about.
While Stetzer’s book is not perfect, it is a work that will be especially helpful for those leaders who struggle with the tension of leading a church that is traditional in their teaching and preaching, yet missional in behavior. It also offers a fresh perspective on what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God and effective ways to share the gospel with others.