Called to Stay, written by Caleb Jennings Breakey and published by Harvest House Publishers (due out in October 2013) aims to encourage young people to do two things: to remain faithful to their local church even when they feel like leaving so that they can then spur on the “body of Christ to love and good works.”
This call to faithfulness and ministry sounds noble. No, it is noble, particularly when statistics tell us that this present generation of Millennials constantly leave churches out of frustration and dissatisfaction.
As aside, I would say that I suspect that this exodus has much more to do with a lack of desire to be a part of Mom and Dad’s church. That, and the great disconnect between modern youth ministries (whose focus largely on music and emotional responses) and more traditional adult worship services.
That said, Breakey states there are two groups of people who must read this book. He calls them the frustrated and the sieged. People either thinking about leaving the church or people who have already left the church.
I fall into neither one of those categories which is why the following quote disturbs me:
This book isn’t just about changing church culture, or making Christianity look more attractive to the world. It’s about thrusting yourself into the grand campaign God has for building his church.
There it is. The book isn’t just about changing church culture or trying to make our faith more attractive to the world. It’s about that, and more.
So, from there, my skeptic antennae slowly started to rise, until I realized that this “breakout new author” and I don’t share the same vision of the church, at all.
He believes that church culture needs to be transformed so that the church looks good to the world. I believe that lives need to be transformed so that believers look different to the world (different…not just weird).
Serving the target audience well, he plows “the radical for Jesus” row more than once. The book is long on risky and edgy and, frankly made this 38-year-old feel like 85 at times. And then, There is the next generational social media element with links to videos and Facebook status suggestions at the close of each chapter.
Lest you think I’m being overly harsh, let me point out some things that Called to Stay does right.
- It is full of scripture references, thus giving the reader proof texts for each point being made. This serves a dual purpose of showing that the author studied the material and handles the Word carefully.
- At times he writes with wisdom beyond his “millennial” years. A good example is when he writes, “Baptizing believers is a one-time event. Teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded is a lifetime event.” Absolutely.
- The book leaves no doubt about the author’s sincerity, nor his love for the Lord Jesus, His church or His children. Breakey’s desire is obviously to see believers discipled and growing in healthy churches.
- He tries to find the delicate balance between boldness and humility. He doesn’t advocate rebellion or a pastoral regime change, but if taken improperly, some of his words could be misconstrued as subversion, especially when he calls people to “infiltrate” the church.
Honestly, I’m torn. I found some material very profitable and edifying, other portions worrisome and still more simply strange. His use of the Holy Spirit represented as a giant ball that suddenly appeared in someone’s house make me scratch my head.
But, if you’re out of church or thinking about getting out and are somewhere between the ages of 15 and 30, try Called to Stay. It just might be what you are looking for.
Thank you to Harvest House Publishers for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for this review.