Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All In

Mark Batterson is a pastor in Washington D.C. who makes most lists of the hippest, most with-it pastors. His multi-site church has an average weekly attendance of a few thousand, but his reach is much bigger due to the fact that his books are well read and well marketed. In fact, he has been churning out a book a year for the past seven years, each of which now comes with various curriculum kits and study guides, and each now routinely stays high on the list of the NY Times best sellers for a few weeks. In short, he has developed a following that has come to appreciate his style and his message. Mark's latest book is entitled All In, and begins with his perception that too many Christ followers are adhering to an "inverted gospel", wherein instead of following Christ and making Him first in our lives, we are selfishly expecting Christ to follow us. Our schedules are completely saturated with our daily activities, leaving no room for our Lord. This behavior is steeped in our makeup, we're too Christian to enjoy sin and too sinful to enjoy Christ. Each of us wants to spend eternity with God, but we just don't want to spend any time with Him in our day-to-day existence.

The main message of All In is that our behavior is not a reflection of the good news that we have been given. Jesus did not call for us to be satisfied with being selfish and with consistently giving the absolute minimum of ourselves. There should be no satisfaction with inertness and with inaction. Batterson wants to light a fire under us to go all in, to borrow a poker expression. We should be holding nothing back. We need to surrend all of ourselves to all of Him. It is time to begin living fully for our Lord and Savior.

This book was an enjoyable read and very typically Batterson. The book is 200 pages of preacher-style pep talk and exhortation. Many of the stories and illustrations that Batterson employs he has used in his other books. He also has a tendency to toss around cliches like scattering corn to the chickens, which can sometimes mask his most important points in a veneer of triteness and is likely evidence of a slick editor's heavy hand. However, I still recommend this read as the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.