Book Review: Counter Culture by David Platt

41O76wsT0VL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Recently I finished reading David Platt’s new book Counter Culture. I’ve always enjoyed reading Platt’s books and found this one to be my personal favorite. It’s a timely book that speaks about major issues we are facing today as a church and as a culture.

In this book, Platt urges and shows how we as Christians must be counter cultural when it comes to the various issues that are in our world today. The issues Platt hits in this book are poverty, abortion, orphans and widows, sex slavery, marriage, sexual morality, ethnicity, and religious liberty. Platt dedicates a whole chapter to each one of these issues. Within these issues other topics that show up are same-sex marriage, immigration, persecution, and more. Platt bookends these issues with a chapter on how the Gospel is the great offense and calls us to be counter cultural. Then he ends the book with an urgent plea to not loose sight of the unreached world around us. Instead of going into detail about what Platt says about these issues (I’ll let you discover that on your own when you read the book) I want to share five things I really liked about this book. These are just a few of the many reasons I believe this is a “must read” for Christians today.

Boldness and humility. Throughout this book Platt balances boldness and humility well. There isn’t a page in this book that doesn’t have one or more bold statements that calls the reader out of complacency and indifference on these important issues. However, Platt’s boldness is balanced by a deep humility. Throughout the book Platt shares how he hasn’t always responded to these issues in the way God expects. He also shares how he doesn’t have all the answers and is seeking answers alongside the reader. Platt’s boldness for the Gospel and his deep humility is clearly seen throughout this book.

Gospel-Centered. If you have ever read anything about or by Platt you know he is a very Gospel-centered leader, writer, and person. It would be easy for anyone to write a book about social issues like these and do so in a way that isn’t Gospel-centered. However, Platt realizes and shares how the only real answer to these issues is the Gospel. That doesn’t mean he ignores the practical and gives us a pass to not take action, in fact, Platt shows us how the Gospel fuels action and demands we live counter culturally as well as doing something about these vital issues. Platt shows how the Gospel is the foundation and key to addressing and fixing these social issues. He also shows how the Gospel itself transforms Christians and how they see and act towards these issues.

Practical. Platt not only tackles these issues with a large dose of Bible and theology, but also shares a lot of practical things the reader can do in response to these issues. At the end of each chapter, Platt shares a list of things the reader can do in response to that particular issue. There is also a helpful website for this book that has more resources on each issue and more.

Focuses on the local church. The call to live counter culturally and respond to these issues is something that is not just given to the individual Christian, but to the church as a whole. The entire body of Christ has been called to counter culture and to respond in a way that God expects when it comes to these social issues. Platt keeps the local church at the center of how we should respond to these issues. He calls the Christian to partner with their local church in doing something about these issues. I believe that’s the way God wants it. God doesn’t want “lone ranger” Christians working their tails off alone against these issues. He wants Christians to work together as a church to counter culture and through the Gospel make a difference in the world around them.

Timely chapters for the American Christian on racism, homosexuality, and religious freedom. I’m not suggesting these issues don’t exists elsewhere in the world or that they are not timely for other countries, but I do believe these are very timely chapters for Christians in America. Our country is facing racial issues, a redefinition of marriage, and freedom of religion becoming less of a reality. Platt takes these issues head on and shows how the Gospel ascends race and breaks down the racial walls. He shows how homosexuality is wrong and against God’s design for marriage. He shows how religious freedom should be given but how we much approach such an issue. These chapters are needed for American Christians today.

As you can probably tell I really liked this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand more about these issues as well as how to respond in a God-honoring way. It’s a powerful book that packs a much needed punch.

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What We Did This Week

This week was our last mid-week gatherings for the school year. Over the summer we take a break from our weekly programs and do other various events throughout the summer months like pool parties, cookouts, and other stuff. We also do mission trips during the summer and this year will be taking our middle school students to Chicago and our high school students to Memphis. We are taking both trips with LeaderTreks. Both of our nights this week were extremely different than normal. You will see this in the details below of what we did this week.

Last Night of Porch Social MediaWhat We Did at Porch (High School)
Pre-Party: We threw a pre-party an hour before the normal start time of our service. We rented a mechanical bull and had Chick-Fil-A and Insomnia Cookies. The pre-party was basically designed to have students come early, hangout, and build excitement for the night.
Worship Set List:
 In Tenderness (Citizens & Saints), Psalm 18 (Citizens & Saints), Unstoppable God (Elevation Worship), All Things New (Elevation Worship), How He Loves (David Crowder Band), Man of Sorrow (Hillsong), Raised to Life (Elevation Worship), Jesus I Come (Elevation Worship), Oceans [Where Feet May Fail] (Hillsong United), Take the World But Give Me Jesus (Ascend the Hill), and Sweetness of Freedom (Citizens & Saints).
Videos: Now is The Time (Remix) and God Loves You
Highlight: Being able to stand among our students and simply worship. Most nights I’m consumed with my talk or with details of the night so it’s hard to stop and worship with the band. Since all we did this night was have the band lead in worship I was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with our students and sing to Jesus with them. It was a blast!

Last Night of Edge Social MediaWhat We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Intro Video: Street Fighter Bonus Stage in Real Life
Upfront Game: Weiner Head. How could I not play a game with middle school students called “weenier head?” This game requires a bit of prep work but is worth it in the end. You get a few construction hard hats and drill a few lines of screws in them from the inside out. Then you will need to buy hotdogs. Students play in teams of two while one student places the hard hat on their head while the other student throws hotdogs at them. The goal of the game is to be the team with the most hotdogs stuck to the top of your hard hat. Click the link above to read more about this game and to download the graphic we used.
Group Game: Scatterball. We play this game at least twice a month and our students love it. It’s basically dodgeball but with only one ball (we throw in more as the game goes) and when you have the ball you can only take a limited amount of steps. If you get hit you are out and if you catch a ball the person who threw it is out. Click the link above to download the graphic we used for this game.
Teaching: We didn’t really have a talk like we normally do but we did do a short Gospel presentation and gave students a chance to respond. We wanted to end the year off reminding our students of the most important thing ever and that’s the Gospel.
Highlight: Hanging out with students before the service in the inflatables that we had set up. We own a few inflatables as a church so we had a giant slide and bounce house set up for students to enjoy. It was a blast getting to let loose and have fun with them on those.

Books I’ve Recently Read

51c69HfZihL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Finding Common Ground by Tim Downs. My campus pastor had me read this book to better understand his philosophy and style of ministry. Because I have been on staff under my campus pastor for a little over two years now I had a decent idea of where this book was going. However, it was great to read a book like this that I know had shaped my campus pastor’s view of how he does ministry. I was glad he had me read it because it was a book that challenged some of my views on how to speak to and reach the unbelievers in the world around me. As the title suggest, Tim Downs goal in this book “is about the crucial job of finding common ground between the Christian and the secular worlds, two vast continents that are rapidly drifting apart” (page 12). As Christians, we are not called to remove ourselves from the culture and to create a “sub-culture” of Christianity but instead we are called to engage and be salt and light in our culture. In this book Down helps the reader understand the importance of sowing the Gospel. That means taking the times and means necessary to connect with unbelievers, understand them, and helping create an atmosphere that when the time is right the soil of their hearts will be ready for the Gospel. Throughout this book Down gives the reader tons of principles, ideas, and practical information to help Christians connect with unbelievers in their culture. Two chapters in this book really challenged me. First, was chapter 4 called “The Sower’s Art.” In this chapter Down talks about how the communication contains both science and art. Science being what is said, the raw content, and art being how the content is being shared and presented, the style of of the communication. Christians are guilty of putting a lot of emphasis on the science of connecting with unbelievers and sharing the Gospel. We focus on getting all the facts right and make during our theology and doctrine is perfectly lined up. These are not bad things. In fact, we need to be practicing good science in our communication to unbelievers. However, Down says, “Christians don’t tend to see the value of art. In this area, we are thirty years behind the rest of our culture” (page 54). In this chapter Down helps Christians understand how we can take the Gospel and Biblical beliefs and package them in a way that is understandable and effective for the unbeliever. Down says, “We must begin to encourage all Christians that spiritual growth requires developing goths science and art. Every Christian must grow in his knowledge of Scripture and theology, but equally in his ability to communicate it persuasively and attractively, whether through rioting or teaching or interpersonal communication” (page 59). The other chapter that really challenged me was chapter 11 called “Planting Part 2 – Materials.” In this chapter Downs challenged Christians to really evaluate the type of materials we give unbelievers that informs them about our faith. We should use resources that are relevant, speak the cultures language, raise good questions, and other things. I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants to effectively connect and reach unbelievers in the culture around them.

new-detox-coverSexual Detox by Tim Challies. I have read many books on the topic of sexual sin. Some have been great while others have not been so great. This book was one of the best books on the topic of sexual sin that I have ever read. In this book Challies writes to men who are sick of porn and the negative effects of sexual sin. Challies tackles issues such as the reality of pornography and sexual sin, masturbation, the gift of sex, and how men can go through a “sexual detox” in their soul as well as in the bedroom with their wife (or future wife). Challies deals with the reality of issues surrounding sexual sin but offers Gospel-centered principles on how men can be victorious over these sins. This is an incredible book that every man should take the time to read. It will convict and get to the heart of porn, lust, and sexual sin while offering practical advice on how to honor God and your wife in this area.

Two books I have recently read that I chose not to review here are The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer and The True Measure of a Man by Richard Simmons. I am currently reading Jesus Continued by J.D. Greear and plan to read Prayer by Tim Keller next.

Story Teller God – Two Debtors

A few weeks ago we had Student Ministry Sunday at Christ Community Chapel (Stow Campus). This is a Sunday where our students takeover our worship services and they lead and serve our congregation. It’s aways a blast! You can click here to read more about what we did.

One of the things I get to do each year when we do Student Ministry Sunday is preach. I love speaking to our students on a weekly basis but it’s always a joy and honor to preach to our whole congregation. We have been in a series called “Story Teller God” where we are looking at some of the parables Jesus taught. I preached on the two debtors from Luke 7:36-50. Below is the video of this sermon that you can watch. Also, click here if you want to check out other sermons from this series.

What We Did This Week (Student Ministry Sunday Edition)

Student Ministry Sunday Social MediaIt’s been a busy past few weeks in our student ministry. We are in the middle of a massive three week (first three Friday nights of this month) event for middle school students called Edge Games, interviewing students for our two summer mission trips, and coming off of Student Ministry Sunday this past Sunday. Before I tell you what we did this week in our high school ministry called Porch, let me tell you what we did Sunday for Student Ministry Sunday.

What We Did at Student Ministry Sunday
Student Ministry Sunday is basically a Sunday where our students take over and lead our Sunday worship services. Our high school ministries worship band made up of students does the worship, students host and pray during the services, students greet and welcome people at the doors, and I get the privilege to preach.
Worship Set List: In Tenderness He Sought Me (Citizens & Saints), The Ascension (Phil Wickham), Oceans [Where Feet May Fail] (Hillsong United), and Man of Sorrows (Hillsong).
Upfront Game: Donuts on a String. Yes, we played a game. It was a blast and the congregation loved it. Contestants have to eat a donut off a string without using their hands. If the donut falls off the string they must eat it off the ground still using no hands.
Preaching: I continued the series we have been in for a few weeks now called “Story Teller God.” In this series we are looking at some of the parables Jesus told. I preached on the two debtors from Luke 7:36-50. Click here to listen to the audio or watch the video of to the sermon.
Highlight: It was a blast watching our students greet and welcome people at the doors. For the past few years we have kind of made it a tradition that on Student Ministry Sunday our students go crazy when people walk through the doors. They high five people, make tunnels over people, and scream and clap for them. It’s awesome!

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Upfront Game: Face the Clothespins. One of my favorite upfront games. Bring up a few pairs of contestants and have one of them see how many clothespins they can put on the face of their partner in two minutes. Click the link above to download a free graphic and countdown for this game.
Worship Set List: Psalm 18 (Citizens & Saints), All I Have is Christ (Sovereign Grace Music), Jesus I Come (Elevation Worship), and Sweetness of Freedom (Citizens & Saints).
Teaching: Last week we started a series called “What’s Your Story?” I taught last week on what the Bible says about sharing the Gospel and also how to share your own personal faith story. This week instead of me teaching our student leaders shared their faith stories. It was great seeing each of them stand upfront and share their stories of how they came to know Jesus and how He has changed their lives. Click here to listen to these stories.
Highlight: Getting to sit back and listen to students share their faith stories. Nothing beats hearing students lift up the name of Jesus and share how He has radically changed their lives.

This was is our last week of not having Edge (our middle school ministry). Next week we pick things back up with Edge and I will share what we did there as well as at Porch.