About four months ago I challenged our discipleship leaders to reading a book every two months. Our whole team would be reading the same book over a two month period. I also encouraged to share their thoughts on our website as they read to get some discussion going. We are now on our third book, No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green.
I try to have the book read before everyone else starts, just to make sure it’s legit all the way through. As I came to the end of this book the Lord showed me something very interested about the progression of the three books we’ve been reading. I wanted to take a moment and share those thoughts here. I think reading this unintended trilogy would be a great thing for any pastor or ministry leadership team.
The first book we read was called Sitting At The Feet of Rabbi Jesus. This book was recommended to me by a pastor friend of mine. It provided insights into the Jewishness of Jesus, His culture, and the time in which He lived. It went into great detail into what it meant to be a first century rabbi as well as a disciple. It was this emphasis on what a first century disciple looked like that really got me going. This book showed me how a disciples was suppose to look.
The second book we read was called Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. I got a preview copy of this from a pastors conference. Wow. This book said many of the things I had been thinking about over the years but could never really put into words. The desire for comfortable living oozed it’s way into the church so that we had comfortable Christianity. When compared to what we see in scripture, that is a huge contradiction in terms. This book showed me how disciples are supposed to think.
The third book is the one the team is just starting to read. It’s No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green. This book showed me what a disciple and discipleship thinking look like in action. When I started reading it all that I knew about Keith Green was (a) he wrote some very cool music, (b) he wrote some very cheesy music IMHO, (c) he had a thing against the music business, and (d) I didn’t like his voice. I’m not saying I don’t think he couldn’t sing, I’m just not a fan of his voice. It was perfect for his time, but I tend to think that he wouldn’t make it today. Now that I’ve read it those observations/opinions remain, but I know a lot more about the man and I have as much respect for him, his life, and his ministry as I do any of the others I would consider “greats” in the kingdom. I mean, when Leonard Ravenhill does your funeral, that’s no small roll of cheese.
I won’t attempt to summarize Keith’s life or the book. I will say a few things about how it made me think and feel about myself and the church today. As I see things, not much has changed in the church in the 30 or so years since Keith left us. Compromise, carnality, lifelessness, all of this communicated beautifully and boldly in Keith’s music. One thing he once said, I also said to a group of pastors online and got some unfriendly words for my trouble. That was, that the church needs to be saved. Not that every church everywhere and every Christian in them isn’t saved and is Hell-bound, but that many are. There are many Christians that need Jesus. That isn’t spoken from a heart of judgment or condemnation, but rather from the same heart Jesus had for the religious yet God-less people Jesus Himself reached out to.
Keith struggled with many things. Not so much specific sins, but what it meant and what it looked like to follow Jesus with everything one had. Is it about how much time one spends in the word or in prayer? Is it about the number of people you witness to and bring to Jesus? What does it mean to use your gifts for Him and Him alone? Keith had certain personality traits that caused some people to label him a prophet. While that hung him up for a while, Keith came to learn that he didn’t want to be a prophet, he wanted to be a Christian instead. Or, a Christian first and a prophet or anything else he might have been second.
As I said, I wasn’t a big fan of his music before I read the book. I don’t know that I’d call myself a big fan now, but having read the stories behind many of the songs and the process Keith and his friends went through writing them, I do appreciate them much more. I even bought some off of iTunes. They speak volumes to believers and unbelievers alike. I would recommend his live album particularly.
The concept of discipleship has been something on my heart and mind since I stepped in at the church I’ve been at for almost four years now. These three books, this unintentional trilogy, has given me perspectives on what it means to be a disciple and what it means to disciple others I have never had before. Again, I strongly recommend that you read all three and in the order presented above. Hopefully they will change and challenge you as they have me and the others who have been reading them.
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