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WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF US? Is our faith just about going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins--or does God expect more? Have we embraced the whole gospel or a gospel with a hole in it? Ten years ago, Rich Stearns came face-to-face with that question as he sat in a mud hut in Rakai, Uganda, listening to the heartbreaking story of an orphaned child. WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF US? Is our faith just about going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins--or does God expect more? Have we embraced the whole gospel or a gospel with a hole in it? Ten years ago, Rich Stearns came face-to-face with that question as he sat in a mud hut in Rakai, Uganda, listening to the heartbreaking story of an orphaned child. Stearns' journey there took much more than a long flight to Africa. It took answering God's call on his life, a call that tore him out of his corner office at one of America's most prestigious corporations--to walk with the poorest of the poor in our world. "The Hole in Our Gospel" is the compelling true story of a corporate CEO who setaside worldly success for something far more significant, and discovered the full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to change his own life. He uses his journey to demonstrate how the gospel--the whole gospel--was always meant to be a world changing social revolution, a revolution that begins with us. ECPA 2010 Christian Book of the Year Award Winner! "Read this compelling story and urgent call for change--Richard Stearns is a contemporary Amos crying 'let justice roll down like waters....' Justice is a serious gospel-prophetic mandate. Far too many American Christians for too long a time have left the cause to 'others.' Read it as an altar call." --Eugene H. Peterson, translator of The Message, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, BC "Rich Stearns calls us to exhilarating obedience to God's life-altering, world-changing command to reflect his love to our neighbors at home and globally. The Hole in Our Gospel is imbued with the hope of what is possible when God's people are transformed to live radically in light of his great love." --Gary Haugen, President & CEO, International Justice Mission "Richard Stearns is quite simply one of the finest leaders I have ever known.... When he became president of World Vision I had a front row seat to witness the way God used his mind and heart to inspire thousands.... His new book, The Hole In Our Gospel will call you to a higher level of discipleship.... Now is the time...Richard Stearns has the strategy...your move!" --Bill Hybels, Founding and Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL "Rich Stearns has given us a book that makes absolutely clear what God hopes for and expects from each of us.... He reminded me of my personal responsibilities and the priority I must give them and also where life's true rewards and fulfillment are to be found." --Jim Morris, former executive director, United Nations World Food Program "World Vision plays a strategic role on our globe. As the largest relief organization in the history of the world, they initiate care and respond to crisis. Rich Stearns navigates this mercy mission with great skill. His book urges us to think again about the opportunity to love our neighbor and comfort the afflicted. His message is timely and needed. May God bless him, the mission of World Vision and all who embrace it." --Max Lucado, author of 3:16--The Numbers of Hope, Minister of Writing and Preaching, Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, TX "With passionate urging and earnestness, Rich Stearns challenges Christians to embrace the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ by embracing the neediest and most vulnerable among us. After reading the moving stories, the compelling facts and figures, and Stearns' excellent application of scripture and his own experiences at World Vision, you will no doubt be asking yourself: What should I do?" --Chuck Colson, Founder, Prison Fellowship


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WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF US? Is our faith just about going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins--or does God expect more? Have we embraced the whole gospel or a gospel with a hole in it? Ten years ago, Rich Stearns came face-to-face with that question as he sat in a mud hut in Rakai, Uganda, listening to the heartbreaking story of an orphaned child. WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF US? Is our faith just about going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins--or does God expect more? Have we embraced the whole gospel or a gospel with a hole in it? Ten years ago, Rich Stearns came face-to-face with that question as he sat in a mud hut in Rakai, Uganda, listening to the heartbreaking story of an orphaned child. Stearns' journey there took much more than a long flight to Africa. It took answering God's call on his life, a call that tore him out of his corner office at one of America's most prestigious corporations--to walk with the poorest of the poor in our world. "The Hole in Our Gospel" is the compelling true story of a corporate CEO who setaside worldly success for something far more significant, and discovered the full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to change his own life. He uses his journey to demonstrate how the gospel--the whole gospel--was always meant to be a world changing social revolution, a revolution that begins with us. ECPA 2010 Christian Book of the Year Award Winner! "Read this compelling story and urgent call for change--Richard Stearns is a contemporary Amos crying 'let justice roll down like waters....' Justice is a serious gospel-prophetic mandate. Far too many American Christians for too long a time have left the cause to 'others.' Read it as an altar call." --Eugene H. Peterson, translator of The Message, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, BC "Rich Stearns calls us to exhilarating obedience to God's life-altering, world-changing command to reflect his love to our neighbors at home and globally. The Hole in Our Gospel is imbued with the hope of what is possible when God's people are transformed to live radically in light of his great love." --Gary Haugen, President & CEO, International Justice Mission "Richard Stearns is quite simply one of the finest leaders I have ever known.... When he became president of World Vision I had a front row seat to witness the way God used his mind and heart to inspire thousands.... His new book, The Hole In Our Gospel will call you to a higher level of discipleship.... Now is the time...Richard Stearns has the strategy...your move!" --Bill Hybels, Founding and Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL "Rich Stearns has given us a book that makes absolutely clear what God hopes for and expects from each of us.... He reminded me of my personal responsibilities and the priority I must give them and also where life's true rewards and fulfillment are to be found." --Jim Morris, former executive director, United Nations World Food Program "World Vision plays a strategic role on our globe. As the largest relief organization in the history of the world, they initiate care and respond to crisis. Rich Stearns navigates this mercy mission with great skill. His book urges us to think again about the opportunity to love our neighbor and comfort the afflicted. His message is timely and needed. May God bless him, the mission of World Vision and all who embrace it." --Max Lucado, author of 3:16--The Numbers of Hope, Minister of Writing and Preaching, Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, TX "With passionate urging and earnestness, Rich Stearns challenges Christians to embrace the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ by embracing the neediest and most vulnerable among us. After reading the moving stories, the compelling facts and figures, and Stearns' excellent application of scripture and his own experiences at World Vision, you will no doubt be asking yourself: What should I do?" --Chuck Colson, Founder, Prison Fellowship

30 review for The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? the Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

    Giving a book like this a 2-star rating is like kicking a puppy. I don't want to offend people but I am going to approach this without the rose-colored glasses. For the record, I myself have a very good impression of World Vision and have donated substantially to its work over many years. I will go right on supporting it too. I am in favor of this book's inevitable outcome, which is that many more people will read it and be moved to donate. This is good. Another good thing: the book covers the bas Giving a book like this a 2-star rating is like kicking a puppy. I don't want to offend people but I am going to approach this without the rose-colored glasses. For the record, I myself have a very good impression of World Vision and have donated substantially to its work over many years. I will go right on supporting it too. I am in favor of this book's inevitable outcome, which is that many more people will read it and be moved to donate. This is good. Another good thing: the book covers the basics of giving help to the poor in other countries. This is a area that many Americans know little about. For this contribution to their education, I give thanks. Now for what I didn't like: First of all, isn't that title just a teensy bit grandiose? From a change in my life to changing the entire world??? Second, let's look at that change. Rich (and believe me, he was) makes a big deal about how he agonizingly chose to give up a fat cat salary in exchange for a job with a still-very-large salary loaded with meaningful work. This is not at all the huge sacrifice that Rich alludes to...Jesus asking to give everything to the poor and to follow Him. Rich is still quite Rich afterwards. He was also paid to write the book by World Vision. He does a decent job making it seem like it isn't a blatant fundraising appeal for them, but I'm sure this book put some serious cash in WV's accounts. (again,a good thing...) In other words, Rich is a well-paid Christian fundraiser. Reading this book is like watching those ads for poor children on TV. I could only handle it for about 30 pages a DAY. The Hole is a 300 page sermon and you'd better believe the offering is not forgotten. To make his points, he uses carefully-selected statistics, and he does the same with his selection of Bible verses. This is cherry-picking, plain and simple, and sometimes it's just wrong. Example: He brings up the New Testament incident where Jesus takes 5 fish from a poor boy and multiplies the gift to feed thousands. Rich's point is that everyone should give whatever little they have and that's how God will meet the need. That isn't what happened there. God intervened in everyday life with a supernatural miracle performed on the gift of only one person. By this account, Rich shouldn't need to fundraise. He'd just need one gift and pray that God multiply it to meet the world's need. Instead he insists we all contribute and the added up amount is God's provision. I agree with the first part of that, but it is NOT a miracle; it's math. He has stripped God's supernatural provision from the story. And what about that verse that says there will always be poor people that we can give to when we want? Rich doesn't mention it although it would seem to have direct bearing on his subject. Lastly, the book was obviously intended for a middle-to-upper class mostly white American Christian audience. I am surprised by this coming from a man who has spent so much time overseas in other cultures. Then again, I'm not. After all, there is a lot of money in those WAC pockets. So give up your lattes for God, and say goodbye to the Jaguar...but we need some other message for most blacks, Hispanics, or low-income Americans who can't really identify with such sacrifices. Giving to help the less fortunate is not the privilege of the rich, Rich. Perhaps the Hole's sequel will say something meaningful to the types of people Jesus was criticized for hanging out with.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The Bible mentions the poor, poverty, and justice more than 2,000 times. It mentions homosexuality about five times. Yet, were one to take the gauge of modern day Christianity, you would think that God spent the majority of His time thundering about gays. He didn't. This book was written by the President of World Vision, a Christian organization that is dedicated to helping poor children around the world. My family and I are honored to be sponsors for a beautiful four year old girl in El Salvador The Bible mentions the poor, poverty, and justice more than 2,000 times. It mentions homosexuality about five times. Yet, were one to take the gauge of modern day Christianity, you would think that God spent the majority of His time thundering about gays. He didn't. This book was written by the President of World Vision, a Christian organization that is dedicated to helping poor children around the world. My family and I are honored to be sponsors for a beautiful four year old girl in El Salvador named Sandra. That author of this book makes a convincing case for the urgency of poverty--not human sexuality--being the most important theme in the Bible. God, it seems, cares much more about widows, orphans, and the poor than He does about who is gay and who is not. Shocking, I know. The thing is, the Bible is a complicated and complex book. Most of it was written thousands of years ago in Ancient Hebrew (the Old Testament) or Greek that has been either translated from or dictated from Aramaic. Saying that the Bible is authoritative is difficult for no other reason than how wildly divergent translations can be from one and other. Read the King James Version next to The Message and you'll see what I mean. So, it's truly important when applying Biblical hermeneutics (I've been waiting to use that word for almost a year now) to watch for broad themes that (in a manner of speaking) transcend translation. Israel's faithlessness, for example. God's patience. And...care for the poor. The least, the last, and the lost. You can't miss it! It's right there, 2,000+ times. But of course, we do miss it. Why? Because even though it's simple to see, it's hard to live. As much as I tend to resonate much more strongly with Protestant theology than I do Catholic theology, the Catholics got it right with their social magesterium regarding 'the preferential option for the poor.' I have come to believe--and this is hardly an original thought to me--that our affluence makes us blind to the suffering of humanity. One very telling part of this book describes two Christian churches: one in suburban America, and one in AIDS ravaged Africa. I challenge you to read about these two communities of Christians and come away with the belief that, were Jesus to return tomorrow, he'd have any idea what was going on in the American church. (Side note: I was at a Communion party last weekend. We had wonderful Red Velvet cupcakes that were set out in the shape of a cross. Do you think Jesus would find that disconcerting? I do.) For myself, it is charity, generosity, and doing what I can to help those who are suffering that most makes me feel like a disciple of Jesus. It will never be enough, but doing something is far better than doing nothing at all. Our politics may differ; our ways of worship and believing my vary, but we should be united in understanding that Christians are called to be salt and light in this darkening world. That, to me, is the point.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Everyone really praises this book, but I feel like Richard Stearns has exchanged one hole for another. He is really good at taking his personal conviction for what is right and bringing in Scripture to support it. The result is a gospel that is void of salvation, discipleship and biblical principles and replaced with social justice, eliminating poverty and the distribution of wealth. Those ideas aren't necessarily bad in principle, but they can't take center stage. For example, when Jesus, at th Everyone really praises this book, but I feel like Richard Stearns has exchanged one hole for another. He is really good at taking his personal conviction for what is right and bringing in Scripture to support it. The result is a gospel that is void of salvation, discipleship and biblical principles and replaced with social justice, eliminating poverty and the distribution of wealth. Those ideas aren't necessarily bad in principle, but they can't take center stage. For example, when Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry reads from Isaiah in the temple about setting the captives free and the favorable year of the Lord. Stearns claims that Christ is talking about the year of Jubilee, when wealth was re-destributed (although not really) and bond servants were freed (it wasn't slavery, but he acts like it was). When the passage is really talking about something far greater! The favorable year of the Lord is the age when God has provided a way for us to approach him through Jesus' sacrifice and is patient to the point where people mistakenly attribute impotency to his wrath. Setting captives free is much more than simply freeing slaves or rescuing children from Thailand (although those things are very important and my wife and I support these causes with our time and treasure). It's about being free from sin, so that after this life we can spend eternity with God. There are several examples of this type of thing in his book. On the bright side, the principles are biblical (they don't need to be forced) and he really opened my eyes to the hole in my own gospel. So his book definitly got it's message accross to me and it was well accepted. I think his book is a pendalum swing from an extreme in the church where these things have been ignored, to the opposite side of the spectrum where these things are paramount. In the end, there needs to be a middle ground.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Megan Franks

    After I started reading this book, it was always on my mind. I expected to find the book to be somewhat of a quiet marketing tool for the author's non-profit organization (World Vision), but what I found was an excellently written, very Biblically-based challenge for Christians to step up and obey the commands that appear throughout the Bible asking us to take care of the poor and voiceless. Stearns's call-to-action is not a call to a social gospel, but a reality check: most of the world's wealt After I started reading this book, it was always on my mind. I expected to find the book to be somewhat of a quiet marketing tool for the author's non-profit organization (World Vision), but what I found was an excellently written, very Biblically-based challenge for Christians to step up and obey the commands that appear throughout the Bible asking us to take care of the poor and voiceless. Stearns's call-to-action is not a call to a social gospel, but a reality check: most of the world's wealth is in America (even if you are just a middle-class citizen like myself). Will we continue to just take care of ourselves and ignore the poor and hurting around the globe whose lives could be changed for a month with the same money that we spend to eat one dinner out? Now, I have fresh eyes and what I see in America is waste, waste, waste. Because of this book, I am now praying and actively seeking ways that I, from my very average life in a small Texas town, can change the lives of others in tangible ways. Very simply, if others do not see the love of God in us, then why would they believe? Actions most definitely speak louder than words.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    The book opens with a question it intends to answer in the 279 pages which follow. The question: "What does God expect of us?" Stearns, currently the president of World Vision, recalls just 60 days into his tenure having his bubble of satisfied security burst open. He had been the CEO of Lenox, a luxury tableware company, who lived in a ten-bedroom house, drove a Jaguar, and flew first-class to business destinations around the world. In those days, when he encountered injustice and poverty, his The book opens with a question it intends to answer in the 279 pages which follow. The question: "What does God expect of us?" Stearns, currently the president of World Vision, recalls just 60 days into his tenure having his bubble of satisfied security burst open. He had been the CEO of Lenox, a luxury tableware company, who lived in a ten-bedroom house, drove a Jaguar, and flew first-class to business destinations around the world. In those days, when he encountered injustice and poverty, his response was to change the channel, turn the newspaper page, or write a check to keep it all at arm's length. But, soon enough, his prayer echoed that of Bob Pierce, who founded World Vision. That prayer said, "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God" (p. 9). With that prayer being answered, little by little, in his own life, Stearns now laments, "[O:]ur view of the gospel has been narrowed to a simple transaction, marked by checking a box on a bingo card at some prayer breakfast, registering a decision for Christ, or coming forward during an altar call. ... In our evangelistic effort to make the good news accessible and simple to understand, we seem to have boiled it down to a kind of 'fire insurance' that one can buy." He continues, incorporating the title and the premise of the book. "There is a real problem with this limited view of the kingdom of God; it is not the whole gospel. Instead, it's a gospel with a gaping hole" (p. 17). What would the gospel without the gaping hole look like? Stearns says, "If we are to be part of this coming kingdom, God expects our lives - our churches and faith communities too - to be characterized by these authentic signs of our own transformation: compassion, mercy, justice and love - demonstrated tangibly" (p. 57). I found this book to be very engaging, challenging, and well-written. It is clear that Stearns is living the message that he is proclaiming. He has experienced the best of times and the worst of times, and they have both combined to form a powerful mixture of intelligence, clarity, and passion. Using stirring stories, relevant Scripture passages, eye-opening statistics, and personal insights, this book is the best I have ever encountered on the subject of trading in the American Dream of fleeting success for God's Dream of everlasting shalom (peace) in the world. In the face of such a large agenda, Stearns advocates for neither optimism nor pessimism, but realism. He concludes, "The pessimist here sees only obstacles. The optimist sees only possibilities. But the realist sees the possibilities between the two. And that's who we must be. We must be people of the possible" (pp. 274-275).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Sterns is a book capable of changing lives; the lives of those who read it and the lives of those that benefit from our having read it. It begins with Stearns sharing his testimony and more specifically his story of leaving corporate USA to become the president of World Vision. His testimony alone could justify a book in itself. After leading the reader through his struggle with accepting the call to lead World Vision and his subsequent eye witness accounts of hea The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Sterns is a book capable of changing lives; the lives of those who read it and the lives of those that benefit from our having read it. It begins with Stearns sharing his testimony and more specifically his story of leaving corporate USA to become the president of World Vision. His testimony alone could justify a book in itself. After leading the reader through his struggle with accepting the call to lead World Vision and his subsequent eye witness accounts of heart-wrenching poverty, he admonishes the reader with "Jesus' love for the poor found consistent and concrete expression in his life and ministry." The message is clear: Our love for the poor should have consistent, concrete expression too. Sterns' use of statistics and numbers reveal the needs in our world in such a way that the reader isn't simply overwhelmed with the need, but rather is impressed to be part of the solution. While remembering the poor he encourages us to remember 1.) Each person is created in God's image and loved by God; 2.) Every one of the challenges has a solution; 3.) Every one of us can make a difference. Often the need is perceived as so great that the average individual doesn't feel he or she can contribute significantly. Sterns fights that theory throughout the book and makes a case that each person's contribution is significant. Just as we may look back on how our parents and grandparents responded to the blacks and their fight for equality with indifference and lack of conviction, Sterns suggests that someday our children may look back at the hunger and poverty crisis of today and wonder how we could sit back and just watch. In this book, numbers and statistics they were far from boring. I learned that by making more than $50,000 a year, my family is richer than 99% of the world's population. That statistic gets to me. It's easy to focus on what we don't have and forget that we have more than 99% of the people we share this planet with. This book was chock full of sobering stories and statistics illustrating how much we can help. Notes from the book: We have shrunk Jesus to the size where He can save our soul but now don't believe He can change the world. - Anonymous The true gospel is a call to self-denial. It is not a call to self-fulfillment. - John Macarthur The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. - Frederick Buechner Anything that's more precious to us than our relationship with Jeus is destructive. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. - Gail Sheehy For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick and you pointed out the behaviours that led to my sickness. I was in prison and you said I was getting what I deserved. A genuine concern for "the least of these" must be woven into the pattern of our lives in tangible expression. Live as if Christ died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back tomorrow. - Martin Luther If we truly love God, we will express it by loving our neighbors, and when we truly love our neighbors, it expresses our love for God. Jesus linked the second greatest commandment to the first by saying, "And the second is like it..." In other words, loving our neighbor as ourselves is like loving God with all our being. Jesus equated loving our neighbors with loving God. If we truly love God, we will express it by loving our neighbors.... The two loves are fully interconnected and intertwined. See yourself as God's partner. It's not what you believe that counts; it's what you believe enough to do. A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine. - DL Moody Anything we put ahead of God becomes an idol. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. Jonah 2:8 I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. - Mother Teresa The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. - Flannery O'Connor Page 119, Bill Clinton's message Of 100 people on earth 60 are Asian 14 are African 12 are European 8 are Latin American 5 are American or Canadian 1 is South Pacifican 51 are male 49 are female 82 are non-white 18 are white 67 are non-christian 33 are Christian The top 20% of the world's population consumes 86% of the world's goods. "When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and alien." Lev 23:22 A modern day version might read, "If your job produces a decent income for you, do not spend it all on yourself. make some of it available to the poor and the less fortunate, that they, too, might live a decent life." A few accomplishments on the world poverty scene, page 163 I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap and then you grow wings." - WIlliam Sloane Doffin The probablily that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. - Abraham Lincoln A changed world requires change agents. Be determined to be the gospel around you. The bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; that coat which you preseve in your wardrobe, to the naked; those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy. Wherefore, as often as you are able to help others, and refuse, so often did you do them wrong. - Augustine The one who says it can't be done should get out of the way of the one who is doing it. - Chinese proverb Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 2 Corinthians 8:13 The way our churches spend their budgets is a glimpse into their heart. Ephesians 2:8,9 Saved by faith. Saved for works. John Stott passage, page 199 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to any one as he had need. Acts 2:44-45 Hold things loosely, making what ever available for the greater good of the community. How different our standard is from Christ's. We ask how much a man gives. He asks how much he keeps. - Andrew Murray The tithes - because God recognized the chief competition to our dependence on Him is our money. When we have enough we become SELF reliant. Money is power and power competes with God for supremacy in our lives. I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, and then you grow wings. - WIlliam Sloane Coffin If your income is $25,000 per year, you are wealthier than approximately 90% of the world's population. If you make $50,000 per year, you're wealthier than 99% of the world. If you don't feel rich, it's because you're comparing yourself to people who have more than you, those living above even the 99th percentile of global wealth. We tend to guage our wealth by what we DON'T have. 93% of the world doesn't own a car. Our N. American lifestyles are not normal, they are grossly distorted compared to the rest of the world. Total income of American church goers is $5.2 trillion. Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer Perception is reality. You may not THINK you are this way or that way, but if that's how you're perceived by others, then you have to change either the reality or the perception, or both. Christians have become defined by those things we're AGAINST rather than what we're FOR. Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. - Joel Barker. Our faith is too tame.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dean Anderson

    Let me start by saying that I agree completely when the major thrust of this book, God through Scripture has called us to care for the poor and the Western church in particular needs to respond to this call from Scripture. If you haven’t read this book, stop reading this review now. Not because there are spoilers, but because I want now to talk about quibbles I have with the book. And I would hate to think my quibbles would keep someone from reading this fine book with this important message. B Let me start by saying that I agree completely when the major thrust of this book, God through Scripture has called us to care for the poor and the Western church in particular needs to respond to this call from Scripture. If you haven’t read this book, stop reading this review now. Not because there are spoilers, but because I want now to talk about quibbles I have with the book. And I would hate to think my quibbles would keep someone from reading this fine book with this important message. But I do have quibbles. There are issues of emphasis and particulars that bothered me. I’m writing this partly to help me think through these issues and decide if my objections are reasonable. The book does omit some facts and Scripture that I think are important when considering these issues. Let me start with a famous quote that Stearns frequently refers to from Bob Pierce, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God”. Bob Pierce was the founder of World Vision (the organization that Stearns now leads.) He did great things for God and World Vision now continues to do great work to care for the poor throughout the world. And that quote has truth in it. As much as we can, we want to see things through God’ eyes and feel things through His heart. But we are finite creatures that serve an infinite God. We can’t take on the entire burden of God’s work in the world. And I believe that Bob Pierce had issues in his life because he tried to take on the full burden of suffering in the world. It is now common knowledge and well documented that Pierce neglected his own family and was at time verbally abusive with his staff at World Vision. Stearns (understandably) make no mention of these flaws in the life and ministry of Pierce. I can’t help but wonder if Pierce neglected those close to him because he was trying to take on whole burden of suffering in the world. And we frail creatures are not equipped for that burden. Stearns cites a study in the book wherein a group of three people were given three sets of information about suffering. The first group was told about a single girl who was suffering in poverty. The second group was given statistics about the billions suffering in the world from hunger, thirst and homelessness. And a third group was given a combination of these presentations. You may or may not have been surprised to learn that the group who was told about the single girl was willing to give much more than the second group and even more than the third group. Stearns seems to bemoan the results of the study. It seems to go against the Pierce model of taking on the whole burden of the world onto ones self. But I look at the results of this survey and find it quite encouraging. The Good Samaritan didn’t try to help all robbery victims in the world, but simply the one man he found along the road. It’s worthwhile to learn about the broad picture of suffering in the world. But real change will take place one person at a time. Stearns acknowledges this, and says we shouldn’t keep the magnitude of the problem keep us from taking the small tasks that are available to us. But there is something about his tone that seems regretful about the fact that we don’t take the whole burden of the world upon ourselves. Stearns talks about coming home from trips abroad and feeling guilty for the abundance he and his family possess. This is an understandable emotion, one shared by all of us that have ministered to the poor and destitute. And it is always worth evaluating whether we need all that we “own” and if there are opportunities to give away what we have to benefit others. But he seems slow to then acknowledge that the gifts we have are from God’s hand, and as stewards of this gifts, we can, in fact, should, delight in God’s good gifts. The book doesn’t refer to the incident in the Gospels of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. Matthew 26 tells of the woman who used valuable perfume to anoint Jesus and disciples bemoan that the money wasn’t used for the poor. But Jesus says the poor will always be with you and what she did was worthwhile. As stewards, we may be called by God to support many different causes that bring glory to God, from education to the environment or the arts among many others. Jesus cared deeply for the poor, and even asked one rich man to give all that he had to the poor. But Jesus acknowledged that utopia was not possible until the New Heaven and Earth comes to pass. As individuals and congregations, we encounter “neighbors” locally and around the world. There are homeless people who come to our door. And there are missionaries that we encounter with visions for God’s work. Someone in our congregation has a burden for the nation of Guinea Bissau. He visited and there is a congregation in that nation that now prays for our church. They are certainly our neighbors. Most of us can and should give more to the work of the kingdom, but that can take many forms. Two other small quibbles: Stearns quotes Gandhi saying how he loves Christ but not Christians. He bemoans the fact that Christians are not viewed favorably in much of contemporary American society and that we are hated in much of the Islamic world. He argues that if we give more to the third world, terrorist groups will have difficulty recruiting. (Though America has been unique in history in its giving to other nations, it has not exactly been acknowledged by al-Qaeda.) Now while we certainly need to reflect the compassion of Jesus, we should not do so to be loved by the world. In John 15, Jesus said the world hated Him and would in turn hate His followers. Of the many wonderful and true reasons for giving more, the goal of being loved should not necessarily be one of them. Finally, I was a bit bemused and annoyed when Stearns quotes Jimmy Carter claiming that the biggest problem in the world is the growing gap between the rich and the poor (over hunger, disease, terrorism, and, um, sin.) Now the prophets were certainly concerned about the wealthy oppressing the poor. But no evidence, except the word of the former president, is given that this is the GREASTEST problem. The wealth of America may grow and the poverty in such places as North Korea, Cuba and African nations may grow. And the growth of that poverty may well have nothing to do with America, but rather with the oppressive, authoritarian regimes rule those nations. And the dictators that oppress those people have often had the friendship and support of Jimmy Carter. So I don’t take his word as a very credible source. But again, these are all quibbles. The overall message of “The Hole in the Gospel” is valuable. Most all of us need to do more for the poor in our neighborhood and the world. But we can only do our part, and trust God to care for the whole.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda Joy

    If I could make the American Church read one book, I’m pretty sure this would be it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karen Locklear

    Every so often I think about Paul’s conversion to Christianity. What amazes me is the sheer improbability of it all. An intellectual, a scholar, a man on the move up the ladder in the Jewish synagogue, a Roman citizen, converts to Christianity. This man was present at the stoning of Stephen. It makes absolutely no sense. But God knows who He wants on His team. So really it doesn’t have to make sense to us because what do we even know? I finished "Hole in the Gospel" by Richard Stearns, and I see Every so often I think about Paul’s conversion to Christianity. What amazes me is the sheer improbability of it all. An intellectual, a scholar, a man on the move up the ladder in the Jewish synagogue, a Roman citizen, converts to Christianity. This man was present at the stoning of Stephen. It makes absolutely no sense. But God knows who He wants on His team. So really it doesn’t have to make sense to us because what do we even know? I finished "Hole in the Gospel" by Richard Stearns, and I see the book really as a conversion story, which is why I think of Paul because Stearns had to shift his mindset in moving from corporate to nonprofit. And he wasn’t exactly a willing participant in said conversion, either. I’m not going into any more detail because you need to read the book. So that part of it, the human element, is how the book differs from "Radical" by David Platt and "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. Thematically though the concept is identical: how much of our lives are we willing to give to actively pursue what Christ wants us to actively pursue? Stearns, in some circles, is portrayed as more leftist than I feel he stands philosophically, at least in this writing. I’ve read criticisms of this book which suggests he advocates “wealth redistribution”, which is a tad far-fetched. Granted, I’m no economist, but microfinance is certainly not wealth redistribution, and he does spend a portion of the book discussing examples of how small investments in motivated people reap large returns in the community. Really, if you think about it, this is the kind of a weird hybrid of American Capitalism and Christian values which might actually solve many of the problems in regards to global poverty. So, no, an outright commie he is not, at least in my opinion. Conversely, he does refer to Bono a “prophet”. I haven’t totally consumed that Kool-Aid yet, but we really can’t debate what the rock star has done to bring awareness to many of the issues in Africa, including HIV/ AIDS, third-world debt, contaminated water, etc. Anyway, this book moved me. There are places in the world where the rate of HIV 1:3, suitable drinking water is nonexistent, and children are starving and orphaned, but yet Americans get bent out of shape if the fast food isn’t what we consider “fast”. The call to a values shift might be offensive to some, but in places most of us like to pretend doesn’t exist, we all know there is some truth behind his words.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Thank God I'm done reading this book! This guy made some good points but he is NOT a good writer! He just kept going on and on to make a simple point. It's not neccesary to quote several famous people, several verses, and tell a few hundred stories to make your point! Really, he needs to read some Hemmingway before he tries to write another book! Regardless of the author serious lack of writing ablitity he did make some great points and I learned some important things, like that a child dies eve Thank God I'm done reading this book! This guy made some good points but he is NOT a good writer! He just kept going on and on to make a simple point. It's not neccesary to quote several famous people, several verses, and tell a few hundred stories to make your point! Really, he needs to read some Hemmingway before he tries to write another book! Regardless of the author serious lack of writing ablitity he did make some great points and I learned some important things, like that a child dies every 5 seconds from hunger or related causes, that the resources to help the hungry and sick in developing countries is available but just not being directed correctly, and that the American Church is wealthy and has the funds to feed the hungry themselves. You know, it's not Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie's job to help these people it's the church's job. I am afraid for the judgement God must have in store for our greed and lack of compassion! I would reccomend reading just the parts of the book that tell the facts, in other words skim and skip the author's life story. Then read the back section telling specific things that you can do right now to fight world hunger.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cadena

    Really challenged by chapters 18, 19, 22 and 25. As believers in Christ and knowing our call to share each others' burdens, we really need to step it up. Really challenged by chapters 18, 19, 22 and 25. As believers in Christ and knowing our call to share each others' burdens, we really need to step it up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Elliott

    The "Hole in Our Gospel" tells the story of Rich Stearns' journey from well-educated, blessed CEO of Lenox to becoming the head of World Vision. p. 16 The kingdom of which Christ spoke was one in which the poor, the sick, the grieving, cripples, slaves, women, children, widows, orphans, lepers, and aliens--the "least of these"--were to be lifted up and embraced by God. It was a world order in which justice was to become a reality, first in the hearts and minds of Jesus' followers, and then to the The "Hole in Our Gospel" tells the story of Rich Stearns' journey from well-educated, blessed CEO of Lenox to becoming the head of World Vision. p. 16 The kingdom of which Christ spoke was one in which the poor, the sick, the grieving, cripples, slaves, women, children, widows, orphans, lepers, and aliens--the "least of these"--were to be lifted up and embraced by God. It was a world order in which justice was to become a reality, first in the hearts and minds of Jesus' followers, and then to the wider society through their influence. p. 92 God is a God of order. He created us all for a purpose and envisioned our lives at the very beginning of time itself. He gave us each a unique personality and a set of aptitudes and placed us each in a particular family. Day by day, He brings key people into our lives and provides life experiences that shape us. God does all of this with His purpose in mind, tailored to the individual--you and me. p. 94 Mother Teresa once said, "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world." She had it right. We're not authors, any of us. We are just the "pencils." Once we understand that, we might actually become useful to God. p. 118 What I have discovered in my travels to more than forty countries with World Vision is that almost all poverty is fundamentally the result of a lack of options. It is not that the poor are lazier, less intelligent, or unwilling to make efforts to change their condition. Rather, is is that they are trapped by circumstances beyond their power to change. Robert Chambers, a British researcher, has said somewhat indelicately, "People so close to the edge cannot afford laziness or stupidity. They have to work and work hard, whenever and however they can. Many of the lazy and stupid poor are dead." I have found that the poorer people are, the harder they work, usually. In fact, their daily labor is more strenuous than most of us could tolerate. It is their circumstances that conspire to prevent their hard work from bearing fruit. p. 119 citing a speech from President Bill Clinton ... "I want you to imagine what would have happened in your lives if there had been no connection whatsoever between how hard you worked and the results you got, because that is exactly the situation faced by more than one billion people who live on less than a dollar a day. The connection between how hard they work and the result they will get has been broken." p. 121--if all 6.7 billion people on earth could be represented by a single "global village" of just 100 people... 60 would be Asian 14 would be African 12 would be European 8 would be Latin American 5 would be American or Canadian 1 would be from the South Pacific 51 would be male; 49 would be female 82 would be non-white; 18 white 67 would be non-Christian; 33 would be Christian (From the Family Care Foundation p. 123 Today's 1,125 billionaires hold more wealth than the wealth of half of the world's adult population The wealthiest 7 people on earth control more wealth than the combined GDP of the 41 most heavily indebted (poor) nations. The poorest 40 percent of the world's population accounts for just 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of the world's income. The top 20 percent of the world's population consumes 86 percent of the world's goods. p. 126 Frankly, giving things to the poor does much more to make the giver feel good than it does to fundamentally address and improve the condition of those in need. P. 127 In other words, if people lack food, health care, or education; are vulnerable to disease; and have no access to land or financial capital, it is frequently because they have been exploited or manipulated by unjust people and structures--man's inhumanity to man. p. 128 ...many Christians believe poverty to be the result of sinfulness and therefore see evangelism as the best, and sometimes only, medicine. They reason that if the poor were reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and the darkness lifted, then their lives would begin to change. Poverty can indeed have profound spiritual dimensions, and reconciliation through Christ is a powerful salve in the lives of the rich or poor. But salvation of the soul, as crucial as it may be for fullness of life both in the here and now and in eternity, does not by itself put food on the table, bring water out of the ground, or save a child from malaria. Many of the world's poorest people are Christians, and their unwavering faith in the midst of suffering has taught me much. p. 130 ...it is important for you to understand that poverty is highly complex and that there are no simple quick fixes. And when we prescribe one particular "pill" because we see just one particular symptom, the poor never seem to get well. In fact, they find themselves gulping down handfuls of pills prescribed by too many would-be doctors with too little real understanding of their lives. p. 158 The world spends twelve times more per year on militaries and defense than it does for development assistance for the poorest of the poor. By one estimate, just and additional $65 billion per year would be enough to lift the one billion people who live on less than a dollar a day out of their extreme poverty. That would only require diverting 5 percent of global military spending toward helping those struggling to survive in our world. p. 163 Things are actually much better for many of the world's poor today in comparison to thirty or forty years ago. -Life expectancy in developing nations increased from 46 years in 1960 to 66.1 in 2005. -The under-five child mortality rate has been cut in half since 1960. -Preventable child deaths have fallen 50 percent since 1960 from more than 20 million per year to fewer than 10 million. -The percentage of the world's people classified as hungry has been reduced from 33 to 18 percent over the past 40 years. -The percentage of people with access to clean water in developing countries went from 35 percent in 1975 to 80 percent in 2007. -Polio has been almost eradicated from the globe. -Adult literacy has risen from 43 to 77 percent since 1970. p. 179 If Church leaders do not have an outward vision to become salt and light in our world, to promote social and spiritual transformation, pursue justice, and proclaim the whole gospel, then the Church will fail to realize its potential as an agent of change. It will become inwardly focused on meeting the needs of its members, to the exclusion of its nonmembers. It will be a spiritual cocoon, where Christians can retreat from a hostil world, rather than a "transformation station" whose primary objective is to change the world. p. 180 When our churches become spiritual spas in which we retreat from the world, our salt loses its saltiness, and we are no longer able to impact the culture. p. 199 Quoting John Stott from Human Rights and Human Wrongs Our Christian habit is to bewail the world's deteriorating standards with an air of rather self-righteous dismay. We criticize its violence, dishonesty, immorality, disregard for human life, and materialistic greed. "The world is going down the drain," we say with a shrug. But whose fault is it? Who is to blame? Let me put it like this. If the house is dark when nightfall comes, there is no sense in blaming the house; that is what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is "Where is the light?" Similarly, if the meat goes bad and becomes inedible, there is no sense in blaming the meat; that is what happens when bacteria are left alone to breed. The question to ask is "Where is the salt?" Just so, if society deteriorates and its standards decline until it becomes like a dark night or a stinking fish, there is no sense in blaming society; that is what happens when fallen men and women are left to themselves, and human selfishness is unchecked. The question to ask is "Where is the Church? Why are the salt and light of Jesus Christ not permeating and changing our society?" It is sheer hypocrisy on our part to raise our eyebrows, shrug our shoulders, or wring our hands. The Lord Jesus told us to be the world's salt and light. If therefore darkness and rottenness abound, it is largely our fault and we must accept the blame. p. 201 ...because of a rise in premillennial eschatology, Christians...reasoned that since Jesus was coming back (and would cure all evil Himself during His millennial reign), why bother trying to fix the world now? It was beyond redemption, riddled with evil, so the focus ought to be on saving souls for the next life. p. 213 I have often thought of the tithe in a different way, as a kind of "inoculation" against the power that money can sometimes hold over us. When we are vaccinated against a deadly virus, our bodies are injected with a small amount of that virus, weakened so that it won't hurt us. By putting this small amount into our systems, we develop an immunity to the virus, and it can no longer harm us. Metaphorically speaking, paying a tithe on our income has the same effect. By cheerfully giving away a small portion of our money, we become immune to the corrupting power it can have in our lives. When we tithe, not out of obligation, but out of love and obedience for God, we are making a bold statement that money has no power over us. Even when we give it away freely, we know than we can depend on God to replenish it and sustain us. p. 218 $168 Billion-the extra money available if all American churchgoers tithed $705 billion-amount Americans spent on entertainment and recreation $179 billion-amount spent by teenagers ages 12-17 (2006) $65 billion-amount we spend on jewelry (2008) $58 billion-amount spent on state lottery tickets $39.5 billion-total US Goverment foreign assistance budget for the world $31 billion-amount spent on pets (2003) $13 billion-amount spent by Americans on cosmetic surgery (2007) $5 billion-total Overseas ministries income to 700 Protestant mission agencies, including denominations, interdenominational, and independent agencies (2005) p. 219 Think about the statement it would make if American Christian citizens stepped up and gave more than all of the governments of the world combined because they took Jesus seriously when He said to love our neighbors as ourselves. p. 292 The Franciscan Benediction May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart. May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people. May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy. May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can really make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done. And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word Who is our Brother and Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore. Amen

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Well done, well said, well written and a revolutionary read. Because I would agree, we're missing the boat here in America, as Christians. We're not for the most part acting like Christ. As the author states, it's not every single Christian and church, but it's a good amount. Enough to warrant commentary. I can only speak for myself, but it is easier to judge and point from afar, to hide. But in all seriousness, what would Jesus do? He loved and touched and saw the undesirable, the untouchable, Well done, well said, well written and a revolutionary read. Because I would agree, we're missing the boat here in America, as Christians. We're not for the most part acting like Christ. As the author states, it's not every single Christian and church, but it's a good amount. Enough to warrant commentary. I can only speak for myself, but it is easier to judge and point from afar, to hide. But in all seriousness, what would Jesus do? He loved and touched and saw the undesirable, the untouchable, the broken. There is a hole in our gospel from Jesus when we act any way other than he did and does. True we need Him to empower us, but we have the free will to choose to be empowered, to love, to meet as He does. It's revolutionary, counterculture, and totally possible. Because God already took care of the "hard part".

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bryon

    0 inShare "The Hole in our Gospel," a new book by Richard Stearns, analyzes modern Christendom's commitment to the whole Gospel, not just the altar call. "More and more, our view of the Gospel has been narrowed to a simple transaction, marked by checking a box on a bingo card at some prayer breakfast, registering a decision for Christ or coming forward during an altar call," says Stearns, director of World Vision in the United States. Stearns strongly believes that our 21st Century suburban Gospel n 0 inShare "The Hole in our Gospel," a new book by Richard Stearns, analyzes modern Christendom's commitment to the whole Gospel, not just the altar call. "More and more, our view of the Gospel has been narrowed to a simple transaction, marked by checking a box on a bingo card at some prayer breakfast, registering a decision for Christ or coming forward during an altar call," says Stearns, director of World Vision in the United States. Stearns strongly believes that our 21st Century suburban Gospel needs an overhaul. Heeding the Gospel, according to Stearns, would bring God's kingdom to earth in the here and now. "If your personal faith in Christ has no positive outward expression, then your faith – and mine – has a hole in it," he writes. Most Christians treat the Gospel as fire insurance. It's a switching mechanism for re-routing as many hell-bound souls to heaven as possible. The afterlife is the ultimate priority. Life here and now matters little, so Christians make minimal difference in the world beyond the cul-de-sacs where they live. Stearns challenges that idea. He reminds us that we'll be judged in the afterlife for our treatment of people in this life. "Focusing almost exclusively on the afterlife reduces the importance of what God expects of us in this life. The kingdom of God, which Christ said is 'within you' (Luke 17:21 NKJV), was intended to change and challenge everything in our fallen world in the here and now. It was not meant to be a way to leave the world but rather the means to actually redeem it." Early in the book, Stearns draws the reader into the discussion Jesus had with religious leaders in Matthew 22. "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" a Pharisee asked him. Jesus' answer: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," and, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Stearns speculates that the third greatest commandment is introduced in Matthew 28: Make disciples. He calls Matthew 28 a "bookend to the momentous announcement in Luke 4 that Christ came to preach the Good News to the poor, restore sight to the blind, release captives and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. But it is more than a call to proclaim; it is a call to make disciples." From these verses, Stearns confers that we are to: Love God; love our neighbors and then go and make disciples who will do the same. Stearns argues that the Church misunderstands and misapplies the Gospel. "What 'Good News' have God's people brought to the world's 3 billion poor? What 'Gospel' have millions of Africa's AIDS orphans seen?" he questions. Stearns supports his argument not just with statistics, but with a narrative of what he's touched and seen firsthand. He's visited cities like Rakai, Uganda, ground zero of Uganda's AIDS pandemic. He's sat with boys like Richard, the 13-year old head of his household. In that city alone, there are 60,000 children orphaned by AIDS. This book emphasizes the faith-transformed life, where the world is changed as believers' lives are altered through the power of the Gospel. "Light dispels darkness; it reverses it," he writes. At first glance, it seems that Stearns falls too far on the side of a "social gospel." But Stearns makes the case that true faith will produce deeds that collide with despair – in direct opposition to the apathy, ignorance and spiritual impotence that has overcome some believers. "The whole Gospel is a vision for ushering in God's kingdom – now, not in some future time, and here on earth, not in some distant heaven," Stearns writes. "The Hole in our Gospel" is intended for anyone who says that a personal relationship with Jesus should be kept private. And it is specifically for people who evaluate faith by putting check marks in the proper theological boxes. It is Stearns' fervent hope that his readers will come to the conclusion he came to: "If Jesus was willing to die for this troubled planet, maybe I need to care about it too. Maybe I should love the people who live on it more. Maybe I have a responsibility to do my part to love the world that Jesus loves so much." Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., was chosen to be a part of President Barack Obama's new Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The council is composed of religious and secular leaders, as well as scholars from different backgrounds. http://goodnewsfl.org/christian-news/...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Y'all, please pray that I can write this review without sarcasm. Because I'm struggling pretty mightily to give it to you straight here. Okay, let's start with disclaimers. Richard Stearns is the the CEO of World Vision - a Christian aid organization devoted to worldwide poverty relief. I began giving regularly to World Vision as a college student. I have donated additional monies recently. I will donate in the future. So while I'm not entirely unbiased, I support the mission, the vision, and th Y'all, please pray that I can write this review without sarcasm. Because I'm struggling pretty mightily to give it to you straight here. Okay, let's start with disclaimers. Richard Stearns is the the CEO of World Vision - a Christian aid organization devoted to worldwide poverty relief. I began giving regularly to World Vision as a college student. I have donated additional monies recently. I will donate in the future. So while I'm not entirely unbiased, I support the mission, the vision, and the organization. All of that to say: Stearns is not a minister. He is not a pastor or a bible scholar. He is a CEO and his goal is to make money. For a good cause, certainly, but dollars are what he needs and this book shows that he will play a little fast, a little loose, with the biblical exegesis. For Stearns, the ends justify the means. So let us begin there. Protestant thought, and evangelical protestant thought more specifically, says doctrine is justification, by which sinners (aka "everybody") is reunited with Christ through his sacrifice by faith, their sins are removed and they are made righteous. There is nothing anybody can specifically do to achieve this other than declare Jesus Christ, the Risen Son of God, his or her Lord and Savior. Subsequent to justification is the doctrine of sanctification: this is more complicated, but often comes around to something like: once you are justified and united with Christ, you will want to be more like Him and in so pursuing that, begin to act more like him. Most churches believe it is an ongoing, endless process. That is, no human, regardless of their faith, will ever achieve full sanctification; nevertheless, we should always be working toward it. Stearns chief rhetorical imperative is to invert these. He is in effect saying, "You all are rich. Be more like Jesus!" overlooking the fact that Jesus was, as previously noted, God made flesh, not just a really nice rich guy who wanted other people to be nice to each other. And that, I think, is the heart of why I have any problem at all with the book-- Stearns ignores, almost wholly, the supernatural aspects of Christianity in favor of a fire-hose level onslaught of emotional stories and statistics. He throws in bible verses-- a number of which are clearly not fully contextualized (these are particularly egregious when he goes on about sins of omission and commission)-- but gives equal weight to appealingly emotional quotations from non-Christians. It's the gospel as only a CEO could present it, full of cliches, lacking nuance, and concerned only with the bottom line. Stearns is not all iffy. He goes to great lengths to conceive a definition of poverty well beyond what most people would-- suffering from preventable disease, illiteracy, lawlessness. These are all crippling aspects of poverty that are far more common and insidious than the lack of food and shelter that so frequently comes to mind. And World Vision is a great organization, I think, obviously, because they address every aspect of that poverty, going above and beyond charity into justice. But he writes as though his audience is completely unaware of this. I'm sure there are those people. Stearns even addresses it with more Barna statistics-- 90% of the unchurched or unaffiliated think that Christians are "judgemental." He goes on to say that if that's the case, even if they're wrong, Christians should change to conform to the world. Hate to use late night comedy shorthand here, but I think it's apt: REALLY?! I'll continue to give to World Vision. And I'll continue to praise Jesus. But I'll warn anybody who might come along that anybody who is determined to make you feel bad about yourself in order to get you to love God and your fellow man is doing it wrong. Three stars for Stearns. One star for Jesus.

  16. 5 out of 5

    June

    The author makes the point that modern Christianity, for most people, has gotten very far away from the way that Jesus interacted with people, as depicted in the Gospels. Rather than showing love and offering help to poor and suffering people, Christians in wealthy nations tend to pursue their own interests and act charitably only in certain approved ways. For instance, evangelical Christians considered AIDS a punishment for sinners, so in one survey, 52% said they would definitely not help chil The author makes the point that modern Christianity, for most people, has gotten very far away from the way that Jesus interacted with people, as depicted in the Gospels. Rather than showing love and offering help to poor and suffering people, Christians in wealthy nations tend to pursue their own interests and act charitably only in certain approved ways. For instance, evangelical Christians considered AIDS a punishment for sinners, so in one survey, 52% said they would definitely not help children whose parents had died from HIV/AIDS. Clearly, there is something missing--the "hole in our Gospel." Stearns repeatedly visited Africa and became convinced that his calling was to help the people he met--orphans, widows, natural disaster victims. He went from being a wealthy CEO of Lenox housewares to the CEO of World Vision US, part of the larger World Vision Church, an experience which he details at length. He gives an honest appraisal of how Christianity has lost its good "brand"--appearing judgmental and hypocritical to non-believers. (This section of the book in particular feels made for fellow Christians.) The author offers an appendix with ideas for action, including World Vision's child-sponsoring program. I was waiting for discussion of the downside of aid--the destabilization of local economies, the collaborations with warlords and corrupt dictators, the racism inherent in many programs--but the limited discussion doesn't come until Appendix 2, circa page 281, where the author acknowledges that some harm has been done by "well-meaning amateurs" (under the heading "Solving Poverty is Rocket Science.") For more insight, interested readers might want to check out the book "Missionaries, Mercenaries and Misfits," edited by Kenyan journalist Rasna Warah, or "Reinventing Foreign Aid" by William Easterly. This is a 10-year reissue, although it hasn't been modernized to include the crises much closer to home--immigration. It does include a concordance of Biblical scriptures relating to social justice and poverty, a study guide for book groups, and 6 pages at the beginning containing praise for the previous edition by various church leaders, and also Bono. Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the digital ARC for this review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lyle

    I had some time to get serious reading done over the past week. I pushed through most of “Dead” Aid and finished “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, as well as this gem: “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Sterns. It came reccomended by a few of my friends and I thought I would give it a shot. I came with the expectations that it would follow the same line of thought David Platt presents in “Radical”. Not only do I recommend this book to every Christian, but I highly recommend it to any n I had some time to get serious reading done over the past week. I pushed through most of “Dead” Aid and finished “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, as well as this gem: “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Sterns. It came reccomended by a few of my friends and I thought I would give it a shot. I came with the expectations that it would follow the same line of thought David Platt presents in “Radical”. Not only do I recommend this book to every Christian, but I highly recommend it to any non-Christian curious as to the face of poverty in the world. The book is written from a Christian perspective, but I do not think that limits it to such an audience. Sterns approaches the topic of global poverty from his own story, and rather then inflating the rhetoric and discussion of theology, he offers the perspective: this is my story and how I see things. The approach is very affronting because it pushes the reader to first examine his/her own heart: not life, wealth and status. It points quite honestly gaps in our armor and points where we do have a hole in our heart and a hole in our understanding. The problem is not limited to other places in the world and it is not limited merely to poverty. The call to the poor is not the call to ignore anyone else, but the call is to empower those without power: defend the defenseless. I also want to point out this book at the value of the work of God and He orchestrates our lives. Sterns goes into depth in the ways that God pursued his heart to take the position as the president of World Vision. Yet, it is understood that God’s plan is not limited there, but is shown in our lives as well if we will seek to understand it. It’s not always what we planned, but it is good and accomplishes His purpose. It encouraged me. Finding the will of God is often like trying to see the smallest stars in the sky, unless we strain, we won’t see them, but they are there. I appreciated this message. There is a lot of encouragement in knowing I cannot outrun His will.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keiki Hendrix

    I began to read this book and was almost in tears before Chapter Two. If you have a heart for missions or if you see the need for more Christian action and not words, you should read this book. He is not an unknown man. Richard Stearns was CEO of a Lenox, Inc. when something or better said Someone opened his eyes to the great need of our time. In The Hole in Our Gospel: The Answer that Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World, Richard Stearns writes of how he came to be the CEO of World Vis I began to read this book and was almost in tears before Chapter Two. If you have a heart for missions or if you see the need for more Christian action and not words, you should read this book. He is not an unknown man. Richard Stearns was CEO of a Lenox, Inc. when something or better said Someone opened his eyes to the great need of our time. In The Hole in Our Gospel: The Answer that Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World, Richard Stearns writes of how he came to be the CEO of World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization. What is it that power, prestige, a financial stability can never provide? The satisfaction of knowing you are seeking out those that Jesus sought during His earthly ministry. This book is a call to action for those who believe that their lives are examples of success while they turn a blind eye to the needs of the people of this world. By revealing sins of omission as well as sins of commission, Stearns strongly takes the position that it is no longer acceptable to turn away from the hungry, the poor or the underprivileged. It should not be to Christians and it is not to God, as stated in Proverbs 24:12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds? My personal take on this book was I was invigorated, challenged, and simply grateful to read a Christian book where the author is actually taking Jesus at His word and following His example. Our airwaves and bookstores are flooded with the principles of prosperity. I also loved the great selections of quotes used throughout the book from some of the greatest minds like St. Francis of Assisi and C. S. Lewis. This book would be a great compliment to any library. I have donated my review copy to my home church. I recommend it highly for those who seek a deeper walk.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I love the availability and accessibility of this book, love how it helps me see Jesus, His world, and the plight of most of the people populating it. Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, pens an almost memoiresque book, sharing his journey from upper echelon corporate executive to lamenting over those ravaged by poverty and disease. A stunning reminder. A wake up call. A solid exegesis of Scripture. What I particularly found compelling was Stearns' journey from a comfortable life. In e I love the availability and accessibility of this book, love how it helps me see Jesus, His world, and the plight of most of the people populating it. Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, pens an almost memoiresque book, sharing his journey from upper echelon corporate executive to lamenting over those ravaged by poverty and disease. A stunning reminder. A wake up call. A solid exegesis of Scripture. What I particularly found compelling was Stearns' journey from a comfortable life. In every way, he smacked of a successful Christian person in America. A big, fat job. A stone house in the country. Kids in Christian schools. A country club membership. A faithful supporter of church and missions. A good citizen. A worshipper. And then a recruiter asked him if he'd be willing to be considered for the president of World Vision job. He balked. Yet the recruiter persisted with this question: "Are you willing to be open to God's will for your life?" Hearing the story of his subsequent praying, wrestling, and eventually moving across the nation to take the position really ministered to me personally. Why? We were missionaries to France for a few years and are now on safe ground in the USA, but I feel very comfortable in suburbia. When I read his words, something stirred in me. A flicker of desire ignited. It had been deadened in the aftermath of following Jesus wholeheartedly only to crash and burn. Perhaps, perhaps God will call us again. But beyond Stearns' own wrestling and moving out of his comfort zone is the idea of the gospel, the whole gospel, not the prosperity gospel full of holes (but full of material blessings). It's a gospel that cares for the poor. That seeks to be last. That loves the little ones. If you call yourself a Christ follower, you need to read this book, need to saturate yourself in the gospel that is whole, need to let Him shine his light on your life, exposing your own holes. Comment

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jason Mccool

    "The Hole in Our Gospel" is by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. It's a very challenging book that looks at the role of Christians in helping the poor, the sick, and the oppressed around the world. His story is unique in the fact that he was a successful CEO with no intentions of joining a nonprofit organization when World Vision approached telling him that after much praying, he was the man God wanted them to offer their CEO position to. How would you respond to that?! Anyway, it make "The Hole in Our Gospel" is by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. It's a very challenging book that looks at the role of Christians in helping the poor, the sick, and the oppressed around the world. His story is unique in the fact that he was a successful CEO with no intentions of joining a nonprofit organization when World Vision approached telling him that after much praying, he was the man God wanted them to offer their CEO position to. How would you respond to that?! Anyway, it makes for an entertaining and thought-provoking story of one man's journey (both physically and spiritually) from someone thinking occasionally about "those people over there" to someone actually going to places like Uganda and the Congo, connecting with people that are starving, that are dying from diseases that are cured with a simple $4 prescription here in the States, and that are oppressed by dictators and madmen like Joseph Kony. In fact, while most people didn't know who Kony was until the Kony 2012 video made the rounds on youtube, Mr. Stearns was telling about his atrocities and showing his victims in this book 2 years earlier. Stearns makes a good case for how we have ignored verses in the Bible that point us to action on behalf of "the least of these". He makes this overarching concept very personal, maybe even uncomfortably so. His question on the book cover is "What does God expect of us?" Not what He wants from us, or what He would be cool with us doing, but what He expects from us. Pretty sobering thought. And one backed up by a lot of Scripture. Lots of resources at the end of the book to continue the learning - and more importantly, translate that learning into action - after the book is read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Have you ever read a book you felt was written for an audience of one - you? "The Hole In Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision, U.S. is one of those books for me. My takeaway is this: "That which breaks the heart of God, should also break my heart." Mr. Stearns mentions this throughout the book and it is the underlying theme of his story as well as the stories of others called to take action. There are heart breaking stories and statistics in this book, but each is woven Have you ever read a book you felt was written for an audience of one - you? "The Hole In Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision, U.S. is one of those books for me. My takeaway is this: "That which breaks the heart of God, should also break my heart." Mr. Stearns mentions this throughout the book and it is the underlying theme of his story as well as the stories of others called to take action. There are heart breaking stories and statistics in this book, but each is woven with the underlying message that it is not too late to act and I am not to small to make a difference. This isn't a call to the Church to wake up, though that is a message of the book. It's not a call to join the efforts of World Vision, though there are plenty of personal stories Richard gives of his own journey from a comfortable corporate CEO to meeting desperate people around the world as President of World Vision. It's not even a call for us to pull out our wallets, though his statistics on our overwhelming wealth in America will make you look at your personal wealth differently. This is a call to do something. Not us...me. Not the Church...you and I, personally doing something. If you've followed my journey from a Corporate VP job to where we are at today, you know I've been looking and waiting on God for the past two years for something significant to do for Him. Well, apparently He's been waiting on me. How about you? Simply, Tim Join me in an effort inspired by this book to skip a meal on June 1st and use the savings to fund world hunger relief. http://tinyurl.com/ryxt2d

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    This is a difficult yet important book for anyone who claims to be Christian. In fact, I managed to put off reading it for months because I knew it would challenge some of my more selfish economic decisions. The author, Richard Stearns, is the president of World Vision, and the basic message of the book is this: It's not acceptable for followers of Christ in the developed world to hoard wealth and ignore the great need of suffering people everywhere else. The technological and logistical realiti This is a difficult yet important book for anyone who claims to be Christian. In fact, I managed to put off reading it for months because I knew it would challenge some of my more selfish economic decisions. The author, Richard Stearns, is the president of World Vision, and the basic message of the book is this: It's not acceptable for followers of Christ in the developed world to hoard wealth and ignore the great need of suffering people everywhere else. The technological and logistical realities of the world have changed drastically over the last 100 years, and today it is easier than ever to offer material support to poor people in even the most remote places on earth. Therefore, choosing to ignore famished communities in Rwanda or Bangladesh in today's age is not much different than stepping over that starving mother in the subway station on the way to the mall. The gospel of Jesus is not merely intellectual but practical, and faith is only real when lived. Perhaps the shallow, mostly intellectual faith that is being widely rejected throughout the west is rightly rejected; it should be replaced by a living, breathing faith that reaches out to the poor and suffering everywhere and radiates the love of God, much like that of the early church as described in the book of Acts. While the prose of Stearns' book tends to be dry, it's filled with sobering facts and statistics and urgent questions about the state and direction of the church. Even if it doesn't find itself onto everyone's required reading list, its message is ignored or rejected at a great cost: the relevance of the church and, indeed, of faith itself.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maya

    Richard Stearns, the CEO of World Vision begins this work by telling his own personal story of struggle to let go of a lucrative job with Lenox, a high-end silverware company, ten-bedroom home and beautiful company car, uproot his family of wife and five children to move to Seattle to become CEO of a world-wide charitable organization. Stearns tells his story to reveal what many Christian believers in America experience; the struggle to apply biblical principles in a culture that has fully embra Richard Stearns, the CEO of World Vision begins this work by telling his own personal story of struggle to let go of a lucrative job with Lenox, a high-end silverware company, ten-bedroom home and beautiful company car, uproot his family of wife and five children to move to Seattle to become CEO of a world-wide charitable organization. Stearns tells his story to reveal what many Christian believers in America experience; the struggle to apply biblical principles in a culture that has fully embraced the "American Dream" which runs counter to the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Revealing stories of desperation and heartache that span the globe, he calls all believers to a more authentic practice of their Christian faith. He defines the "hole in the gospel" as the lack of concern and real assistance toward those who are the poor, the widow, the oppressed and the forgotten and writes passionately that faith and works must co-exist and that only when these two work together is the gospel really experienced as "good news" to those who are perishing both spiritually and physically. Stearns book is readable, accessible, personal and although it challenges the reader, is ultimately uplifting and gives the reader concrete steps on how to change their trajectory from materialism and concern with self to acknowledging that all provision comes from G-d and the believer must honor G-d with all he/she has.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lori Beach

    I am reading this after returning from China and it is eye popping! For some reason God keeps putting World Vision in my path. I'm only halfway finished and reading it while also studying Thesslonians with my group. Sold out servants in China, this book, studying the Thesslonians and World Vision in my path and at the same time. Changing, growing, learning...... I am in Maui on vacation and just finished this book. It is difficult to be vacationing in a Weston in Hawaii and read about all of the I am reading this after returning from China and it is eye popping! For some reason God keeps putting World Vision in my path. I'm only halfway finished and reading it while also studying Thesslonians with my group. Sold out servants in China, this book, studying the Thesslonians and World Vision in my path and at the same time. Changing, growing, learning...... I am in Maui on vacation and just finished this book. It is difficult to be vacationing in a Weston in Hawaii and read about all of the hurting, poor, starving and orphaned in the world. It is even more difficult when you have family members that are experiencing difficulties. Favorite quotes from this book: To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice. We have shrunk Jesus to where he can save our soul but now don't believe he can change the world. God does not call the equipped; He equips the called. The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. And the one that really sums up the book: Bob Pierce once said, "Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything." Eye opening. Loved it. Changed by it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebornbutterfly

    This book is amazing, it will be on my favorite books of 2009, possibly even my favorite books of all time! It’s a book that you can’t walk away from unchanged or at least unchallenged. I think the most amazing thing about this book is that is is so much more than him, the author and me, reader. It’s about a community of men and women who has an urgent calling to make a difference in the world, by repairing this “hole” in our gospel. This book can and more than likely will change a lot of people’ This book is amazing, it will be on my favorite books of 2009, possibly even my favorite books of all time! It’s a book that you can’t walk away from unchanged or at least unchallenged. I think the most amazing thing about this book is that is is so much more than him, the author and me, reader. It’s about a community of men and women who has an urgent calling to make a difference in the world, by repairing this “hole” in our gospel. This book can and more than likely will change a lot of people’s hearts. This book has challenged me, sobered me and yet has left me with immense hope. I love the way he writes! It’s simple to read, and even entertaining at times, but a the same time i have also been convicted by his writing. Not only does he share insights into his own journey of faith and trust, he adds applicable scriptures and the stories of other people. I cannot tell you how much I loved and enjoyed reading Richard Stearns’ book. This book also includes a study guide on the 5 parts in this book. I plan on doing a personal book study using these questions very soon!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    The emphasis of this book is heavily misplaced and oversimplified. I read this book because it was touted as a gospel-centered book, but it actually presents a truncated gospel by adopting many secular humanistic solutions to poverty and third-world despair, all in the name of "the gospel" of course, while also excluding biblical laws which explicitly teach different (and sometimes contrary) principles for social order and reform. For instance, the book promotes bringing an end to world hunger, The emphasis of this book is heavily misplaced and oversimplified. I read this book because it was touted as a gospel-centered book, but it actually presents a truncated gospel by adopting many secular humanistic solutions to poverty and third-world despair, all in the name of "the gospel" of course, while also excluding biblical laws which explicitly teach different (and sometimes contrary) principles for social order and reform. For instance, the book promotes bringing an end to world hunger, providing universal access to drugs for Aids patients, and a guaranteed education for all the worlds children (p. 219). That is an adoption of secular humanistic ideals, not biblical ideals, even though it would be nice if Christians were more influential in matters of foreign poverty, medical practice, and privatized education.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    This is written by the CEO of World Vision, and it relates how he became the CEO, even though he was not looking for it. This book deals with the public expectations that come with being a Christian. Most American Christians focus on the personal relationship aspect of Christianity, but this author wants us to explore the public aspect, what God expects from us. There are times when the stats are overwhelming, but the end of the book provides some practical suggestions and ways to make a differen This is written by the CEO of World Vision, and it relates how he became the CEO, even though he was not looking for it. This book deals with the public expectations that come with being a Christian. Most American Christians focus on the personal relationship aspect of Christianity, but this author wants us to explore the public aspect, what God expects from us. There are times when the stats are overwhelming, but the end of the book provides some practical suggestions and ways to make a difference. The ones that struck me the most: go hungry. www.30hourfamine.org Thirty hours without food. Assembly lines: world vision: care giver kits or school tools give meaningful gifts: heifer.org; worldvision.org; (my take on it...perhaps plan something for the Husas)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    There’s much to commend and even applaud in the book. Stearns very honestly traces how his faith was a private faith; he saw no need to step out of his comfort zone and get into the messy needs of those around him and around the globe. So throughout the book he wants Christians to stop being so ingrown and not simply believe some facts about Christ that require any real sacrifice. Amen. I agree. But as the book progresses, it seems that he shortchanges the message of the gospel for the implicati There’s much to commend and even applaud in the book. Stearns very honestly traces how his faith was a private faith; he saw no need to step out of his comfort zone and get into the messy needs of those around him and around the globe. So throughout the book he wants Christians to stop being so ingrown and not simply believe some facts about Christ that require any real sacrifice. Amen. I agree. But as the book progresses, it seems that he shortchanges the message of the gospel for the implications of the gospel. While one can learn much from this book and even take action to do more, I believe that the theological foundation for much of what Stearns attempts to argue is somewhat shoddy and anemic. There is a hole in our gospel, but it is not the hole that Stearns presents.

  29. 4 out of 5

    allison

    One of the best books I have ever read! Everyone should read "the Hole in the Gospel" even if you are not a christian. The information that Richards Stearns shares about the disparity in our world between wealth and poverty, and the american way of life and that of the rest of the world is eye opening and presented in a way that can only make you want to embrace being part of the change that is necessary to make earth a better world for all. This is the only book of this type that has moved me a One of the best books I have ever read! Everyone should read "the Hole in the Gospel" even if you are not a christian. The information that Richards Stearns shares about the disparity in our world between wealth and poverty, and the american way of life and that of the rest of the world is eye opening and presented in a way that can only make you want to embrace being part of the change that is necessary to make earth a better world for all. This is the only book of this type that has moved me and made me feel like I can actually help. Read it!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather Bottoms

    This book helped me to explore the many complicated facets of poverty and challenged me as a Christian to consider my responsibility in working to help address it. It was sobering to take a hard look at the enormous disparity in economic opportunity, and the widespread hunger and illness throughout the world. But Stearns puts forth a compelling invitation for individuals, and the church, to be an active participant in working to alleviate poverty, fight injustice, and pursue equality for all peo This book helped me to explore the many complicated facets of poverty and challenged me as a Christian to consider my responsibility in working to help address it. It was sobering to take a hard look at the enormous disparity in economic opportunity, and the widespread hunger and illness throughout the world. But Stearns puts forth a compelling invitation for individuals, and the church, to be an active participant in working to alleviate poverty, fight injustice, and pursue equality for all people. He offers lots of solid ideas on how to get personally involved. Had quite an impact on me.

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