Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lessons from the East by Bob Roberts Jr. - a book review

I review a lot of books and sometimes the information I glean from them can be overwhelming and not always in a good way. Recently, I received a complimentary copy of  Lessons from the East, Finding the future of Western Christianity in the Global Church by Bob Roberts Jr., from Handlebar Publishing. This book was filled with information that not only touched my heart but enlightened my viewpoint on Christianity both in America and areas around the world.

As I read the book, I was immediately taken aback. Within the first few chapters, I found myself rethinking how our faith in Christ is presented here in America. As the author shares, American's are often focusing on building megachurches filled with thousands of members that offer programs to keep the members engaged and satisfied. They become self centered and cliquish. They quickly forget to center their focus on reaching the community for Christ and become their own little empire. Mr. Roberts says "Instead of being salt and light, we've become tasteless and dark." He says, "How can we be salt and light if we aren't engaged with decay and darkness?" As I read those words, I really began to think about my own church and how often we forget the community and only focus on our own members.

Mr. Roberts helped me see, through his statements in the book, that American churches today are fearful of engaging and ministering to people from other nationalities. American churches see themselves as being set apart and set above those of other Christian nations. We tend to focus on making the peoples from other nations projects instead of ministering to them solely as Christ would. We tend to shift our focus from sharing the love of Christ and serving those around us with humble hearts and instead defend our own turf.

I agree with Bob Roberts, Jr., when he says, "Great worship services don't change the world; empowered, impassioned disciples do." He states that people in our communities aren't necessarily looking at the quality of our worship or to see if we have something to offer them but instead, they're looking for people with the qualities and values of the Sermon on the Mount. His statement, "When people of other faiths (or no faith) see the disconnection between our worship on Sunday and our lives on Monday through Saturday, they assume we have nothing to offer them" was powerful to me and made me want to re-examine my own life.

Mr. Roberts wrote his book with the intention of opening the eyes of pastors and others in the ministry. He wanted to help them see what we are doing wrong and how we can fix it. I loved reading about pastors in other countries, like Sam Sung Kim and Eddy Leo. Their view of serving the community was almost identical. The main focus was on the "Up relationship with the Father" since everything comes from God. Next comes the "In relationship" how we related love and concern to in our relationship with others and lastly, comes the "Out relationship" which focuses on how we serve God in our community. This viewpoint, the Eastern Christian cultural view, was vastly different from the Western Christian viewpoint among most American churches. Instead of focusing on me and mine, the Eastern churches focused on building disciples for Christ.

As I continued to read this book, I gleaned an entirely different view of how our Christian faith should be shared with others. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to read, Lessons from the East, Finding the Future of Western Christianity in the Global Church by Bob Roberts, Jr. If pastors around our country would take time to read and take to heart the many lessons compiled in this book, there would be amazing changes in our country that could impact the world for Christ.

I would like to thank Handlebar Publishing for giving me an opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest review. It was a pleasure to read this book and I will keep it in my reference library to share with others. I would highly recommend this book to anyone involved in ministry or anyone hoping to learn how to better minister to others.

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