Liberty University Online

Radically Unchurched

A Book Critique Submitted to Dr. Jeddy Kaleli In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Course Contemporary Evangelism EVAN 565 ± B12

By Neal Price 12 March 2010

Bibliographical Entry Reid, Alvin L. Radically Unchurched. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002. Author Information Dr. Alvin L. Reid, prolific author and speaker, wrote Radically Unchurched in 2002. He received his undergraduate Bachelor of Arts from Samford University. He completed his M. Div. and Ph. D. from Southwestern Seminary. He has travelled around the world as a speaker in over 2000 churches, schools, and other conferences and events in the United States. His passion for evangelism is evident in the multiple books that he has written and published on the subject. Dr. Reid is presently a Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He has been there since 1995. Dr. Reid is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Dr. Alvin Reid is married to Michelle Reid, and they have two children, Joshua and Hannah. Dr. Reid spreads his infectious passion for the lost to everyone in his speaking engagements across the nation and world. He loves to travel with a worship band when he ministers to students and young adults. His son, Joshua, is a featured member of the band as the drummer for the group. Dr. Reid is a member of several societies on evangelism such as the Academy of Evangelism in Theological Education, the American Society for Church Growth, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Missiological Society. He has taught at Houston Baptist University and led the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana in evangelism. Content Summary Dr. Alvin Reid breaks his work on evangelism in the postmodern culture down into two parts. Part One covers the profile of the Radically Unchurched giving the reader a glimpse into the group of people that Dr. Reid is trying to define and ultimately determine how to reach them.


Part Two of Radically Unchurched explores the plan to reach this people group that Dr. Reid has defined at the ³radically unchurched´. Dr. Reid begins his efforts of defining the radically unchurched in Chapter One. He defines this people group as ³those who have no clear personal understanding of the message of the gospel, and who have had little or no contact with a Bible-teaching, Christ-honoring church (p. 21).´ Once he has firmly established the definition for this group of people, he begins to deliver startling statistics about the American church and how the church is dwindling at a rapid rate. Chapter Two asks the reader the question, ³What are we trying to do?´ He states that there are three ways that the church is trying to relate to this culture: evasion, pervasion, and invasion. He takes the time to define each of these terms and how they relate to the church reaching the radically unchurched. Chapter Three, ³The Power of One´, challenges the body of Christ to look outside of the world we have created of isolation and exclusivity and do what God has called us to do. If all of us as a unified body would each do our respective part to change our world for Christ, we would see an enormous harvest. It all starts with us. Chapter Four introduces the subject of comparing and contrasting the Modern and Postmodern movements in America. Dr. Reid tells the reader that the church must wake up and see that we are living in a different era than the 1950s. Our approaches to the delivery of the gospel message must change in order to reach this generation. No matter how different the eras that we are living in, Dr. Reid assures the reader that one thing has not changed ± the world needs a Savior. They need to see Jesus through us. Dr. Reid gives us hope in Chapter Five that we are seeing a generation of young people rising up to accept the challenge of reaching their


world for Christ.

He defines the present generation of ³millennials´ and gives ideas and

suggestions on how to effectively reach them and make disciples. Part Two begins with Chapter Six where Dr. Reid explains that while we must add to the methods that we are utilizing to minister the gospel to those around us, we must not take anything away from the gospel by watering down our message. The message of Chapter Six is summed up in the statement that the author makes on p. 120, ³We must be uncompromisingly conservative in our theology and unashamedly progressive in our methodology.´ The author details in Chapter Seven how the power of a personal testimony can be extremely effective in reaching the unchurched around us. He gives instructions on how to develop a personal

testimony and how to deliver that message in a unique way to the unchurched. Chapter Eight deals with ³Evangelistic Worship´ where the author explains the power of worship in evangelism and the unchurched experiencing the manifest presence of God. Dr. Reid also discusses the power of corporate worship and how that can play a very big role in reaching the unchurched people that come into our worship services. In Chapter Nine, the author

introduces new and creative ways to reach the unchurched of our generation. He talks about the power of Servant Evangelism, the power of the Internet in our time, and he gives other examples of medium at the disposal of the body of Christ that we may never have thought to use. Dr. Reid touches on the subject of church planting as an effective form of evangelism in Chapter Ten of Radically Unchurched. He gives statistics that backup his claims of church planting being effective in specific regions that are ripe for the harvest. The author concludes his book with a personal challenge to the reader to reach out and fulfill the Great Commission and take the world for Christ. Evaluation


Dr. Alvin Reid has done a fantastic job in relating vital information regarding evangelism in the 21st century. His education and passion for the lost is evident on every page as he begins to teach and explain important concepts and statistics to base his claims. His purpose for writing Radically Unchurched is evident in the beginning pages and wrapped up succinctly at the conclusion of the work. Dr. Reid claims that the harvest is ripe for the body of Christ if we are ready to do something about it and begin reaching out to others outside of the four walls of the church. He believes that if we really do love people as we should, then we will take every opportunity to share the love of Christ with them and do what Jesus commanded in the Great Commission. Dr. Reid has an excellent writing style that captures the reader¶s attention and keeps the reader wanting more information with the turn of every page. Dr. Reid has effectively broken his book into two parts ± one to explain the concept of the ³radically unchurched, and the other for what the body of Christ needs to do to reach this people group. The amount of statistics that the author gives at first can be seen as negative and depressing, but as the reader continues in the work, he sees that the author is faith-filled and thoroughly believes that we are poised to see a great revival and outpouring of the Spirit of God on the youth of this nation. Another effective aspect to Dr. Reid¶s book is the way he uses personal stories and testimonies to relay the given information and make it more memorable. It would be difficult for the member of the ³Modernism´ people group to completely understand the ³Postmodern´ era. Dr. Reid does not use condescending language or rhetoric to demean the reader, but he uses terms that can be easily understood and examples and illustrations to effectively drive his points home.


The fact that Dr. Reid is a professor of Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is evident in his stance as he writes. Many of the statements and claims that he makes come from an obvious bias to the Baptist denomination, and the non-Baptist reader might take issue with that if they were sensitive to that type of writing style; however, the non-Baptist reader will get so much other quality information that this will quickly become a non-issue. This book is very interesting in how the author does an excellent job in explaining to the reader how we can relate a 2000 year old gospel message to people in the 21st century without watering down the message or compromising it in any way. So many churches are steeped in tradition. That tradition might be one hundred years old or ten years old. Whatever the tradition, many churches refuse to change the way that they relate to people and do not reach the unchurched in their world. Dr. Reid does an outstanding job in challenging churches everywhere to not be afraid to change the method of delivery. If God gets the glory and people come to Christ, then we need to use that method. We must stay relevant to the unchurched if we are going to reach them for Christ. Radically Unchurched is a great read for anyone that is interested in reaching out to the world around him or her. The book is laid out in such a way that it can be read personally and be a complement to personal study. It could also be effectively used in a small group setting such as a men¶s group or evangelism group. The information found in its pages cross all demographic barriers and challenges any reader in any setting to share the love of Christ in various ways. In conclusion, Dr. Reid has given the body of Christ yet another outstanding tool for the purpose of educating and challenging in the very important subject of personal evangelism. We must reach out to the unchurched around us and understand that the methods and strategies that we used yesterday, although effective at the time, might not be effective in today¶s society. He


lays out a very clear challenge that is difficult to read in many instances. We, as the body of Christ, do not want to hear that we are failing and not doing a good job, but Dr. Reid makes his statements and challenges with love and care. Dr. Reid¶s plea is that the body of Christ will shake out of our current state of apathy and reach out to others with the love of Christ. Personal Reflections on Contemporary Evangelism 565 I had no idea what to expect when I began my graduate studies 8 weeks ago with Liberty University. All I knew was that I had a deep desire to obtain my master¶s degree. After much prayer and consideration, I settled on Liberty and began the journey. My adviser that I spoke with suggested Contemporary Evangelism 565 to complement the other class that I was taking. I agreed and went for it. I was scared out of my mind as I began the first week of study and had no idea how I was going to be able to keep up with the pace of the class. As the Worship, Arts, and Media Director for a large church in Southeast Texas, I am constantly on the search for new and fresh ways to present the gospel to our congregation. I might use music, dance, drama, video presentations, or set designs to complement the pastor¶s message in hopes that someone will relate and be changed forever by the power of the Holy Spirit. My line of work finds me in my office for hours on end during the week with my door shut to close out the world as I try to create and plan services. I had slipped into a rut of my own creation and did not even realize it. When I was faced with the startling statistics that were presented in the first few weeks of the course about how the church is basically on the decline, at first I got angry and tried to deny it by saying, ³Not in my church!´ I had to drop the layers of pride and realize that it is happening in my church, and I have been part of the problem. By me not getting out from behind my desk and reaching out to others, I have attributed to the decline. As the course has


progressed over the last 8 weeks, my choice of musical and visual elements has changed. The focus is no longer on just having something nice to complement, but the focus is now with desperation and passion to see the lost saved. My heart has always been with the younger generation. My parents often told me that I was born an adult. I always seemed to not relate to my age group, but I would find myself hanging with the adults and engaging in conversations with them about topics ranging from religion to politics. As I have grown older, my heart bleeds for the younger generation. My childhood pastor used to say all the time that Christianity in America is one generation away from extinction. That statement was true in the 1970s and 1980s and is even truer today in the 21st century. We, the ³older´ crowd, must get our heads out of the proverbial sand and look

around us to a generation that is desperate to see the real power of God. They want to see that Christians are not all hypocrites. They want relationships with godly men and women that will mentor them in the things of God and show them that they can be everything that God has called them to be. This starts by us getting our acts together and going into the world and share the gospel unashamedly. I took an informal poll of our pastoral staff here at the church where I work at the beginning of the class. I knew that I was to witness to 3 people before the end of the course and report how it went. I wanted to know how many people that they had reached personally for the gospel. I was shocked (I don¶t know why) to find out that very few of them had reached over 5 people personally over the course of their entire lives. There is something wrong with this picture. I have always been one to look at the Great Commission more like the Great

Suggestion, but I can say now that I am challenging myself everyday to get out of my comfort zone and reach out to the hurting and lost people around me.


Thank God for Contemporary Evangelism 565. As much as I bellyached about having to read so much material and complete so many book critiques, I can honestly say that I have been given powerful tools to use to further my goals of personal evangelism. Before the class, I had no idea how to personally share the gospel. I was so full of fear and pride. Today, I can honestly say that the feelings of inadequacy and trepidation are fading, and I will use the tools I have been given and not let them rust away. Dr. Wheeler asked the question in the final week of class, ³Where Do We Go From Here?´ He lays out to the class that we must take the knowledge that we have gained and use it. I was not expecting a class in seminary to effect me as much as this class has. It has changed the way that I do ministry and even how I relate to my family. I am a new father, and I want my children to see me evangelizing and reaching out to others with the love of God. We must practice what we preach and lead our congregations. How can we expect them to do something that we ourselves are not doing in an effective way? I have heard the call of the Lord and am praying that the fire that has been lit will not burn out.


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