North American, Evangelical Christianity, has seen growing pockets of conversation in the last five years or so about how Christians should face issues of poverty and injustice. I’ve seen the conversation going on in megachurch circles, emerging church circles, house church circles, and everywhere in between. The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, the CEO of World Vision, has served to pull all of these conversations together, uniting the topic into the mainstream. Why do I say so? Because it’s been awarded the 2010 Christian Book of the Year.
Upon cracking the cover for the first time, I was anticipating a book written as a theological argument explaining how North American, Evagelical Christianity must restore Jesus’ emphasis on concern for those in the margins. And I suppose it was that, but not quite like I expected.
Much of the book reads like a memoir, as Richard Stearns describes his journey from the life of a comfortable CEO raising his family in a comfortable suburban life and attending a church that made them…comfortable. The call to become the CEO of World Vision turned that upside down. And so his theology does come through, not in the form of an argument, but in the form of his narrative. And because this is his own story, he writes with great humility and in a way that does set someone like me on the defensive, but causes me to identify with him — both in seeing my own apathy and in my longing to engage more in these issues. The latter half of the book remains deeply personal to the author, but shifts from his own story to solutions, as he shares what how individuals and churches might respond.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”