In reading a book, I sometimes scan the prologue and go to the first chapter in order to get to the meat. However, I didn’t do it this time, and I’m glad I didn’t because Kyle Idleman, the teaching pastor of Southeastern Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, the fifth largest church in America, recounts an interesting story in the prologue. One weekday, he was sitting alone in Southeastern’s huge empty church sanctuary, searching for just the right sermon to preach the coming Sunday – Easter Sunday. He knows full well that there will be about 30,000 people in attendance, including some who only come on Christmas and Easter. His temptation is to preach a sermon that they will “enjoy” and will encourage them come back.
However, reflecting on Jesus’ sermons to the multitudes, Idleman remembers that Jesus didn’t mince words. He always called for total commitment. This was too much for some of His listeners. Some of them left Him. At the end of John chapter 6, after some heavy teaching, we read, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” Idleman adds, “I was struck by the fact that Jesus didn’t chase after them. He doesn’t soften his message to make it more appealing. He doesn’t send his disciples chasing after them with a creative handout inviting them to come back for ‘build your own sundae’ ice cream social. He seems okay with the fact that his popularity has plummeted.”
Idleman’s theme is that Jesus doesn’t want fans, i.e., enthusiastic admirers. Instead, He wants committed followers, ones who are willing to sacrifice for Him – wherever, whenever, and whatever. He develops this theme by unpacking Jesus’ teaching on discipleship and including a number of real-life stories of committed Christ-followers at Southeastern Christian Church.
This book is designed for two groups of people:
(1) those who see themselves as “good Christians” but need a challenge (don’t we all!?), and (2) those who don’t profess to be believers. The latter would not waste their money on a book like this, but a believer might buy it for them, and for good reason – this book could change their life!
Not a Fan is hard-hitting, but not hard reading. In fact, it’s an enjoyable and interesting read. As bestselling Christian author Lee Strobel wrote, “Get out your highlighter and let Kyle take you back to the core of Christianity. You may never enjoy being challenged more than by reading this clear, compelling, and winsome book!”
Why did I read this book?
Because two of my church friends who are committed followers of Jesus Christ recommended it with these words, “It’s very convicting.” I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the softer I can become. And that’s something that I don’t like in myself. I want the Holy Spirit to convict me so I can be all that Jesus would want me to be for the remaining days of my life.