Drawing from his experiences and ministry as a pastor at his church (House of Mercy), Rathbun outlines some key areas where Christians can change their tune. We are reminded by Rathbun that, "We are not called to save people, we are called to love people." (pg. 43). The idea that God does the saving and Christians merely present the message is challenging. So often, Christians see the job of evangelism of "saving souls." Understanding that being a Christian is not about who we are, but who Christ is. Rathbun writes that Christians must be transparent, engaged, loving, holistic, just, and humble because that is what Jesus did. Jesus made disciples, not converts. Too often Christian has focused on making believers, but what happens when those believers have questions? Evangelism must not be a manipulation of people, but instead an outreach of love.
Culture is an important issue in NuChristian. We Christians cannot be sheltered from culture. Judgmental attitudes have no place in the life of a "NuChristian". We must seek an accurate and honest understanding of who we are and we must be exposed to culture in order to reach people. Using things like the internet, websites, email, etc... are all ways of reaching people. Church planters often think about zip-code mailings, door to door evangelism, and ads in the newspaper. Rathbun states that most people come to know his congregation through their website, not by seeing the church building. Throughout the book, illustrations are used from scripture that bring out how biblical characters were able to reach out through culture, while still maintaining their commitment to God. NuChristian is a welcomed addition to the books that seek to bridge the gap between Christians and post-modernity. Judgmental and divisive Christians have populated Christianity too long.
NuChristian hits home and it hurts, but it is the good kind of hurt. The kind of hurt you get when you pour rubbing alcohol on a cut. It stings, but you know the cut is going to get better. The ideas that Rathbun presents are needed. How to handle conflict, theological differences, and how to accept people are issues that churches need to learn how to solve. I also enjoyed Rathbun's personal stories of growing up in church, his experiences with his congregation, and the dialog with his father (a Baptist minister) in the last chapter.
I fear that people will view Rathbun coming from a perspective that is deemed too dangerous. People can be pretty entrenched in "their" Christianity and everything else is either too liberal or "wishy-washy". People in churches feel that they must be "lock step" Christians. That is, to follow everything that they think their pastor or ecclesiology dictates, thus any other idea is wrong. A lot of what the book is about is really pastoral care. In a way, Rathbun is pastoring us. Gentle guiding us in a pastoral counseling session of how to be less judgmental, rigid, hateful, nasty, rude, and hypocritical. Then, once those attitudes are changed, we are led to encounter the world in a different light.
I would recommend that you go out an get NuChristian. It will help you, your church, your pastor, and just about anyone who is a Christian.