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

( 131 )

Overview

WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF US?

Is our faith just about going to church, studyingthe 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 amud hut in Rakai, Uganda, listening to the heartbreaking story of an orphanedchild. Stearns’ journey there took much more ...

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Overview

WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF US?

Is our faith just about going to church, studyingthe 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 amud hut in Rakai, Uganda, listening to the heartbreaking story of an orphanedchild. Stearns’ journey there took much more than a long flight to Africa. It tookanswering God’s call on his life, a call that tore him out of his corner office at oneof America’s most prestigious corporations—to walk with the poorest of the poorin our world.

The Hole in Our Gospelis the compelling true story of a corporate CEO who setaside worldly success for something far more significant, and discovered the fullpower 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 changingsocial 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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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

"What does God expect of us?" This is the central question that recurs often in Stearns's book. He answers this question by highlighting the social injustices prevalent around the world and emphasizing that many Christians in the United States remain oblivious to these needs. Stearns (president, World Vision U.S.A.) left his corner office in 1998 to help orphans in Uganda, answering God's call. Through many personal anecdotes, he pleads passionately for greater involvement by Christians in global crises of hunger, disease, and poverty. He also indicts American Christians for omitting the necessity of action from their faith. While Stearns's book includes some fresh statistics and current stories, the classic in this subgenre of Christian literature remains Ronald J. Sider's Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. Overall, Stearns's work falters from an overreliance on subjectivity and emotional appeal. Optional for larger public libraries and specialized collections.
—Dann Wigner

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780849947001
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/4/2010
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 123,701
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Stearns has served as presidentof World Vision U.S. since 1998, having formerly been the CEO of Parker Bros. Games and Lenox, Inc. He and his wife, Reneé, have five children of their own and millions more around the world.

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Read an Excerpt

The Hole in Our Gospel


By RICHARD STEARNS

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2009 World Vision, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4185-7381-2



CHAPTER 1

A Hole in the Whole


Faith today is treated as something that only should make us different, not that actually does or can make us different. In reality we vainly struggle against the evils of this world, waiting to die and go to heaven. Somehow we've gotten the idea that the essence of faith is entirely a mental and inward thing. —DALLAS WILLARD


Where Is the Hole?

So how can our gospel have a hole in it? As I mentioned in the prologue, the word gospel literally means glad tidings, or good news. It is shorthand, meant to convey the coming of the kingdom of God through the Messiah. One dictionary has this definition:

Gospel—glad tidings, esp. concerning salvation and the kingdom of God as announced to the world by Christ.


The amazing news of the gospel is that men and women, through Christ's atoning death, can now be reconciled to God. But the good news Jesus proclaimed had a fullness beyond salvation and the forgiveness of sins; it also signified the coming of God's kingdom on earth. This new kingdom, characteristics of which were captured in the Beatitudes, would turn the existing world order upside down.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:3–10)


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" (Matt. 25:40 NKJV)—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. Jesus' disciples were to be "salt" and "light" to the world (see Matthew 5:13–14). They were to be the "yeast" that leavens the whole loaf of bread (see Matthew 13:33). His was not intended to be a far-off and distant kingdom to be experienced only in the afterlife; no, Christ's proclamation of the "kingdom of heaven" was a call for a redeemed world order populated by redeemed people—now. In other words, the perfect kingdom of God that I just described was to begin on earth. That was the vision first proclaimed by Jesus, and it was good news for our world. But this does not seem to square with our twenty-first-century view of the gospel. Somehow this grand vision from God has been dimmed and diminished.


The "Bingo Card" Gospel

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. —2 Corinthians 9:13


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. I have to admit that my own view of evangelism, based on the Great Commission, amounted to just that for many years. It was about saving as many people from hell as possible—for the next life. It minimized any concern for those same people in this life. It wasn't as important that they were poor or hungry or persecuted, or perhaps rich, greedy, and arrogant; we just had to get them to pray the "sinner's prayer" and then move on to the next potential convert. In our evangelistic efforts 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. Then, once the policy is in effect, the sinner can go back to whatever life he was living—of wealth and success, or of poverty and suffering. As long as the policy is in the drawer, the other things don't matter as much. We've got our "ticket" to the next life.

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. First, 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. Yes, it first requires that we repent of our own sinfulness and totally surrender our individual lives to follow Christ, but then we are also commanded to go into the world—to bear fruit by lifting up the poor and the marginalized, challenging injustice wherever we find it, rejecting the worldly values found within every culture, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. While our "joining" in the coming kingdom of God may begin with a decision, a transaction, it requires so much more than that.

I believe that we have reduced the gospel from a dynamic and beautiful symphony of God's love for and in the world to a bare and strident monotone. We have taken this amazing good news from God, originally presented in high definition and Dolby stereo, and reduced it to a grainy, black-and-white, silent movie. In doing so, we have also stripped it of much of its power to change not only the human heart but the world. This is especially reflected in our limited view of evangelism. Jesus commanded His followers to take the good news of reconciliation and forgiveness to the ends of the earth. The dictate is the same today.

Christianity is a faith that was meant to spread—but not through coercion. God's love was intended to be demonstrated, not dictated. Our job is not to manipulate or induce others to agree with us or to leave their religion and embrace Christianity. Our charge is to both proclaim and embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God's love in tangible ways. When we are living out our faith with integrity and compassion in the world, God can use us to give others a glimpse of His love and character. It is God—not us—who works in the hearts of men and women to forgive and redeem. Coercion is not necessary or even particularly helpful. God is responsible for the harvest—but we must plant, water, and cultivate the seeds.

Let's look more closely at this metaphor, used often in the New Testament to describe evangelism (see, for example, Matthew 9:37–38; Mark 4:1–20, 26–29; Luke 10:1–3; and John 4:35–38). For most of the twentieth century, American evangelists really honed in on this idea of the harvest, believing that the fruit was already ripe and just needed to be picked. This was the essence of Billy Graham's great global crusades, Campus Crusade's pamphlet The Four Spiritual Laws, The JeSUS Film, and evangelism explosion. All of these tools and efforts were highly effective at proclaiming the good news that our sins could be forgiven if we committed our lives to Christ. Many millions of people did commit their lives to Him. In fact, my own life was influenced by both The Four Spiritual Laws and a Billy Graham Crusade, so I can personally attest to how successful these "harvest techniques" are at harvesting fruit that has already ripened.

But what about the fruit that hasn't ripened? For most of us who made our first-time commitments to Christ as adults, our stories were not of instant conversion the first time we ever heard about Jesus. In fact, according to the Barna Research Group, only about 6 percent of people who are not Christians by the age of eighteen will become Christians later in life. It is rare that a simple recitation of the gospel will cause people to instantly change their minds. It usually takes much more than that. Our own narratives typically involve a journey of discovery marked by relationships with respected friends and loved ones, reading, discussions, learning about the basis for the Christian faith, seeing the difference faith made in the lives of people we knew, and witnessing genuine faith demonstrated through acts of love and kindness toward others. In other words, before we became "ripe" for harvest, a lot of other things had to happen first.

Think about all the things that must happen before there can be a good harvest of crops. First, someone has to go and prepare the land. This is backbreaking work that involves felling trees, pulling massive stumps out of the ground, extracting rocks and boulders from the field, and moving them aside. But there's no harvest yet. Next the soil has to be broken up. The earth needs to be plowed, fertilizer churned in with the soil, and orderly rows tilled to prepare for the seed. Then the seeds must be carefully planted and covered. But still no harvest. Perhaps a fence needs to be built to protect the plants from animals that might devour them. And always, the seedlings must be carefully watered, nurtured, and fed over the long growing season.

There are sometimes setbacks—bad weather, blights, floods, and insects—that can jeopardize the harvest. But if all of the hard work is done faithfully and with perseverance, and if God provides good seed and favorable weather, finally a glorious harvest is the result.

Haven't we heard the stories of faithful missionaries who dedicated their whole lives in another country without seeing even one person embrace Christ as Savior—only to learn that fifty years later there was a tremendous harvest? In our instant-gratification society, we would prefer to go directly to the harvest. Who wants to do all of that hard work of stump pulling and boulder moving? But isn't all of that "other" work the essence of the coming of the kingdom of God in its fullness? When we become involved in people's lives, work to build relationships, walk with them through their sorrows and their joys, live with generosity toward others, love and care for them unconditionally, stand up for the defenseless, and pay particular attention to the poorest and most vulnerable, we are showing Christ's love to those around us, not just talking about it. These are the things that plant the seeds of the gospel in the human heart.

Didn't Jesus always care about the whole person—one's health, family, work, values, relationships, behavior toward others—and his or her soul? Jesus' view of the gospel went beyond a bingo card transaction; it embraced a revolutionary new view of the world, an earth transformed by transformed people, His "disciples of all the nations" (Matt. 28:19 NKJV), who would usher in the revolutionary kingdom of God. Those words from the Lord's Prayer, "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" were and are a clarion call to Jesus' followers not just to proclaim the good news but to be the good news, here and now (Matt. 6:10). This gospel—the whole gospel—means much more than the personal salvation of individuals. It means a social revolution.


Jesus Had a Mission Statement

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. —John 10:10


The revolution began in Nazareth, where Jesus grew up.

Picture for a moment your neighbor's son being asked to speak at the Sunday service at your church. Can you imagine your shock if he stood up, read the scriptures pertaining to the second coming of Christ, and then said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing"? That is exactly what Jesus did in the synagogue in Nazareth, except He referred to the Messiah's first coming. This happened at the very start of Jesus' public ministry, immediately after His baptism by John the Baptist and the forty days in the wilderness, facing the temptations of Satan. Listen to this remarkable passage:

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:14–21)


The passage Jesus read was a messianic prophecy that envisioned a future messiah who would be both a king and a servant. As perhaps Jesus' first public statement of His identity as the Messiah, what He said in Nazareth was a declaration both of who He was and why He had come. It was in essence Jesus' mission statement, and it laid out the great promises of God to those who receive the Messiah and His coming kingdom. In this mission statement, we see three main components.

First, we see the proclamation of the good news of salvation. Take note that the recipients of this good news were to be, first and foremost, the poor, just as Jesus promised in the Beatitudes. When we talk today about proclaiming the gospel, we typically mean evangelism, a verbal proclamation of the good news of salvation and how it can be received by anyone by asking God's forgiveness and committing his or her life to Christ. But this is not the whole gospel.

Second, we see a reference to "recovery of sight for the blind" (v. 18). In the original text from Isaiah 61, there is also a promise to "bind up the brokenhearted" (v. 1). These references indicate that the good news includes a compassion for the sick and the sorrowful—a concern not just for our spiritual condition but for our physical well-being also. We see this same concern time after time in the ministry of Jesus as He healed the diseased and the lame, showed empathy for the poor, fed the hungry, and literally restored sight to the blind. Jesus clearly cared about addressing poverty, disease, and human brokenness in tangible ways.

Third, we see a majestic commitment to justice. Jesus has come to "proclaim freedom for the prisoners," "to release the oppressed," and "to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18–19). In the first century, the allusion to prisoners and the oppressed would have certainly meant those living under the occupation of Rome but also, in a broader sense, anyone who had been the victim of injustice, whether political, social, or economic. The proclamation of "the year of the Lord's favor" was a clear reference to the Old Testament year of Jubilee, when slaves were set free, debts were forgiven, and all land was returned to its original owners. The year of Jubilee was God's way of protecting against the rich getting too rich and the poor getting too poor.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Hole in Our Gospel by RICHARD STEARNS. Copyright © 2009 World Vision, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Prologue 7

Part 1 The Hole in My Gospel-and Maybe Yours

Chapter 1 A Hole in the Whole 15

Chapter 2 A Coward for God 25

Chapter 3 You Lack One Thing 36

Part 2 The Hole Gets Deeper

Chapter 4 The Towering Pillars of Compassion and Justice 53

Chapter 5 The Three Greatest Commandments 64

Chapter 6 A Hole in Me 73

Chapter 7 The Stick in Your Hand 88

Part 3 A Hole in the World

Chapter 8 The Greatest Challenge of the New Millennium 97

Chapter 9 One Hundred Crashing Jetliners 106

Chapter 10 What's Wrong with This Picture? 114

Chapter 11 Caught in the Web 125

Chapter 12 The Horsemen of the Apocalypse 132

Chapter 13 Spiders, Spiders, and More Spiders 151

Chapter 14 Finally, the Good News 161

Part 4 A Hole in the Church

Chapter 15 A Tale of Two Churches 171

Chapter 16 The Great Omission 181

Chapter 17 AWOL for the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of All Time 190

Chapter 18 Putting the American Dream to Death 203

Chapter 19 Two Percent of Two Percent 210

Chapter 20 A Letter to the Church in America 221

Chapter 21 Why We're Not So Popular Anymore 226

Chapter 22 A Tale of Two Real Churches 231

Part 5 Repairing the Hole

Chapter 23 What Are You Going to Do about It? 243

Chapter 24 How Many Loaves Do You Have? 250

Chapter 25 Time, Talent, and Treasure 257

Chapter 26 A Mountain of Mustard Seeds 274

To Learn More 280

Q&A with Reneé Stearns 281

What are You Going to Do About It? 287

Can Poverty Be Defeated? 300

Resources for Your Journey 303

Study Guide 305

Notes 314

Scripture Index 325

General Index 327

About the Author 335

About World Vision 336

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted May 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A powerful writer with a vision from God that is compelling and direct

    Thanks, first, to Thomas Nelson for this review copy of The Hole In Our Gospel.

    Richard Stearns is President of World Vision. In this book he proves to not only be a capable businessman and leader, but a powerful writer with a vision from God that is compelling and direct. From page one, Stearns sets out to address the missing link in the gospel found in many churches in America - a gospel often missing compassion for the hurting, sick, dejected and downtrodden. It is filled with scripture, quotes, personal stories, and facts that will inspire you to give, serve and call on others to do the same.

    As a comparison, I recently read Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. Chan's goal is to help believers get out of the rut of complacent Christian life, devoid of passion and the guidance of the Spirit. While Chan provides a general kick in the backside, Stearns is much more precise. One leaves Chan thinking, "I should do something, and I could do something." After Stearns, you will say, "This had better be what I am doing in one way or another."

    Stearns is self-abasing and transparent to a level that is startling, but refreshing. He shares his call to serve with World Vision, a call that is full of jumps and spurts, as he attempts to avoid all that God has done in his life to position him for this role. Chapter 3 especially provides a glimpse into how God worked in his life. It is clear that Stearns does not want to give the impression that he is the perfectly motivated and compassionate person who demands us to be like him. Rather, he calls on us to pray a prayer with him, that our hearts would break for the things that break God's heart.

    Stearns is not suggesting everyone leave for Uganda. Rather, he wants them to get personally involved in the full gospel. He presents this as "planting seeds" and "watering" (p.19), rather than just waiting for the harvest. This means caring for kids with serious needs like hunger, poverty and disenfranchisement. This means helping families and societies move in the right direction by providing them skills, training and hope, rather than just handing out food and cash recklessly. He is careful to balance and articulate faith and works that prove our faith.

    WWJD - What Would Jesus Do - is presented as more than just cliche. Stearns wants believers to really think about Jesus' actions with every decision they make so that they will act accordingly. Jesus is shown in scripture to be someone who was moved to help the blind, sick and rejected. And this is not just for the "spiritual" - those called to "full-time" Christian service.

    Chapter 18 "Putting the American Dream To Death" is required reading for every American believer, in my opinion. It provides a necessary critique of our common acceptance of a system that runs contrary to God's way of thinking. Not that equality or the ability to pursue our hopes is wrong. But when we do so at the expense of others, and with the full knowledge that our material comfort is out of reach to billions (p. 204), we need to seriously question our motives and way of living.

    This is a read that will compel every reader to follow Jesus into a life of compassion and service, whether overseas or at home. I have already recommended it to many of my friends as it has repeatedly come up in conversation.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 14, 2010

    The Hole in Our Gospel

    Richard Sterns is the the CEO of World Vision. He says says Christians have a huge hole in their lives that comes from ignoring the plight of the poor. He left his job as CEO of Lenox Inc. to run a nonprofit organization. The book is about that.

    I am a conservative Christian, so I believe we should help the poor in Jesus' name in order to introduce them to Christ. But unfortunately there will always be the poor until Jesus returns because we live in a fallen world.

    He has a more liberal world view and actually believes that we, as humans, can wipe out hunger. He says that it's unflattering of Christians to be against the theory of global warming, homosexuality, gay marriage, pornography, sexual promiscuity, alcohol, drug use, abortion, Islam, and more. Who cares? We are to be truth and light in the world and not be transformed to the world.

    I can't give it a positive review because I disagreed with so much.

    I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program.

    8 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 28, 2010

    A Miserable Wretch...

    Describes what I felt like halfway through this book. I've just finished reading it and it's an absolute eye-opener with regard to what we have here in the states. It also opened my eyes to just how much of my money I waste on things that I don't need, shouldn't have in the 1st place and don't mean anything to begin with! Everybody both Christian and non-Christian should read this book. Incredible, life changing read but you have to have a heart to begin with! I'm now in the process of researching World Vision for opportunities to help and trying to find volunteer opportunities in my city. My heart's been broken by the things that break the heart of God!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This book WILL change your life

    At first glance, The Hole in Our Gospel seems to be an autobiography of Richard Stearns, President of World Vision. Stearns writing style is casual and engaging, so as an autobiography this book would still have been one to recommend. Amazingly though, this book is actually much much more than an autobiography and therefore is one of the best Christian books I have ever read! At the heart of the book is the idea that we, as pampered overly-blessed American Christians, have not been living out the true whole message of the Bible in our everyday lives and worship. We have no idea that our version of a living gospel we love and cherish actually has a huge hole in it. We have a gaping chasm in our thinking that should be filled with love and compassion towards the orphaned, sick, and widowed just as Jesus demonstrated.
    Your eyes will be opened and your heart broken for others you have never met. Not preachy though, this book really explores the deep divide between the world's richest and poorest people. In spite of the message, this book is empowering and uplifting. Truly, one of the best parts of the book is the addition of 33 pages at the end of the book filled with resource links, study group questions and other ideas on how to get started filling the hole in your own gospel.
    This book is phenomenal! Truly I can't stop thinking about this book. I usually "pay it forward" with books I have finished reading, but not with this one. This one I'm keeping to read again and again. I'll be buying extra copies to give out as gifts in order to spread this message that we can fix the hole in our gospel AND that we must! This book will also be used in our homeschool here. In fact, teenagers all across America should read this book for a fresh dose of what really matters in this world.awareness of human conditions with the tools and compassion to help. Five out of Five stars.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, President, World Vision U. S.

    Be doers of the word and not hearers only! That is the message of this book. You want to see how this is modeled today? Read Rich Stearns' story. It is not simply inspirational, it is convicting.

    Stearns took to heart Jesus' model and commands. He is a disciple. Fortunately, Stearns gives us a blueprint for how we can obey too! Get it, read it, and allow God to speak to you through it.

    I received a gratis copy from Thomas Nelson in exchange for reviewing it. I sure am glad this was the one I selected to receive. Well worth the read. Inspiring!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Must-Read for all Believers

    This book has it all. It is informative AS WELL AS inspiring and motivating. Church elders should consider buying this for their entire staff, if not for their entire church body.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2011

    Easy to read--A message every christian should hear

    I read this book a while ago and I still remember it. Stearns does an excellent job explaining the importance of sharing the gospel, not just to foriegn countries but in our own work place. He also goes through the importance of sharing the gospel for the sake of our own relationship with God. I would say it is a must read for not only missionaries but for every christian whether they work in a secular or christian environment and even to high schoolers and College students. One plus that's in this book that isn't in alot of christian books (sadly) is that Stearns doesn't shy away from scriptures. Bible verses are abundantly quoted and explained through out this book. I was also afraid that Stearns wrote this book just to advertise for his ministry but after reading it I don't feel that way at all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2010

    Amen Brother

    Look around you! See the need for Christian infusion! There is indeed a hole in the Gospel and Christians are that hole. We close our eyes to the needs we see. We fail Jesus everytime we look away on purpose. This book makes a wonderful point; do what you can for those in need.
    The author uses real life examples from the lives of real people and invites and motivates the reader to become active for the good of society. As Ben Franklin pointed out, we are all in this together and if we can see a need it is our place to try and make things better. How can we know that half the world is starving and still do nothing to try and stop this? Read this book and be renewed with compassion for humanity. I wish the writer would have focused more on a need for unity with Jesus as a first priority but I think the author writes from the perspective that the reader is already in a personal relationship with God and that while saying we love God we still turn away from people in need and we cannot love God and turn a blind eye to the needy. This is a wonderful book, well worth the time it takes to read it. This is a motivational work that will make you stop and think, and see the needs of others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2010

    A challenge to the American Church: How do I show that Jesus IS the greatest Treasure of my life?

    I was given this book as a gift from my church's youth pastor. He and his wife had just finished reading it, and it impacted them in such a way that they wanted to share it with others in the church. So they bought 10 copies, put a little note in the front of them challenging the reader to think and pray about what God might have them do with what is brought to light in this book, then pass it on once done reading.

    So I read it; took me a few months to get through because it is really dense. I can honestly say that more than anything else I've read, "The Hole in Our Gospel" has directly challenged my view of what it means to be a Christian in America; a challenge that Jesus doesn't call us to live the American Dream. Just going to church and bible study and not swearing isn't the goal either, there's so much more than that. God has rocked my world with regards to how I spend my time, money, and where my treasure lies (am I living to show that he is more valuable than life?).How can I continue to live such an extravagant lifestyle, wasting the gifts that God has given me in order to bless others, while people cry out for God to help them? What if you and I were God's response to these prayers, and instead we chose to keep it to ourselves?

    I can't even begin to sum up what is in this, but what I can say is that scripture lies at the heart of the message. Please, read through this, (start at the very beginning) take your time, wrestle with it. Spend time going over the scripture referenced here, pray about it, talk with someone about it. Whatever you do, don't just read it and put it on a book shelf somewhere, but act on it. "Your kingdom come, on EARTH as it is in heaven". Jesus wants his church to be a light in the dark world, to change things through his power and grace right now, not just in heaven.

    Some have said that the book focuses too much on helping the poor, and forgets that the Gospel needs to be preached, that everyone needs the Gospel, not just the poor. I agree, completely. I didn't get this vibe from reading Hole in our Gospel. While I do agree that much of the book is focused on specifically the poor, there is no reason you have to only see it in this light. I think ultimately, the book, and the scripture referenced in it gets at what Jesus talks about when he says "pick up your cross and follow me". Jesus wants us to resemble him in every part of our lives.

    "Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?" (Luke 9:23-25)

    I highly recommend the "Hole In Our Gospel" to anyone who is a follower of Christ. This is not an easy book to read. It is challenging because of the real life examples given, and also because you need to deal with the scripture references brought up. You can disagree with Stearn's methodology and language, but the most challenging part comes from the Bible itself. Read this, pray through it, and get other's involved in the process.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2010

    This is a must read for everyone! If you haven't a clue about what is happening in the world, please pick this book up and educate yourself. It will change your life.

    This book touches on all facets of life in a way no other current book does; he relates to all aspects of culture and how we relate to one another. It is my wish that every literate person would pick up a copy of this book and read it and then give one to a friend of theirs to read. It is too good to keep, it must be shared. People all over are calling for change; if you really want change, start by reading this but then put into action what you have read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    One of the most heart felt books of the century

    This book will open up your eyes to the reality of what our world really looks like outside of our comfortable homes and the safety of the USA. What is so amazing is the inspired story of the Author. Not enough words to express the emotions that you will feel when you read this must read story for every Christian and more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Hole in Our Gospel

    This is a must read for everyone that follows Christ. This book brings the reader back to reality of this world. The reality of this world is many people are living in poverty, many people are living with diseases without cures, many people are living with unclean water and many people are living without food. The Bible makes it very clear what we should do. This book makes it very clear how we missed it but gives us direction on how to help. The need is great but there is a solution. The commission of helping the poor, orphans and widows can be overwhelming for a person but with organizations like World Vision makes it a doable mission.

    This book does not get bogged down with a bunch of statistics on the world's condition. It gives real life stories to illustrate just how lives are changed by doing something.

    Also, Mr. Stearns personal journey to Word Vision is very captivating. His life journey not only inspires but motivates the reader.

    While reading this book the Haiti earthquake happened. The devastation to that country was unbelievable. Thank God that World Vision was there so people could have away to send their support.

    Complimentary copy of this book was provided by Thomas Nelson.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2010

    More Than a Review: A Life Change

    I've been hearing about a book called The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns for some time from many different sources. And though I was interested in it, I also had a feeling it might be a bit uncomfortable to read. In the book, the author lays out a compelling case that describes the Gospel as more than a personal relationship/salvation through Christ. He quotes plenty of scripture that points to the fact that the "Love your neighbor" command is just as much Gospel as "Love God." God consistently throughout scripture calls for compassion, generosity, feeding the poor, caring for the orphan and widow, seeking justice instead of capitalizing on unjust situations, etc. And the carrying out of these things is often described as the way God knows we belong to Him.
    The book does so well in laying out the problems the majority of the world is facing (poverty, sickness, lack of clean water, etc) and also in explaining why we as wealthy American Christians so often fail to act in tangible ways to help alleviate their suffering. It could become overwhelming, thinking about all the suffering in the world, but the author carefully gives hope throughout the book. We are reminded to "not to fail to do something just because we can't do everything." And the phrase repeated several times through the book that I truly took to heart was, "Please allow my heart to be broken by the same things that break God's heart."
    The bottom line is: I'm rich. Others are deeply, miserably poor and sick. I have knowledge of their need, and the ability to help in at least some small way. And the big kicker: to ignore their need would be wrong.
    This is more than a book review because it impacted my life in a way that caused me to take action. After reading the book, I checked out the non-profit for which the author is President. World Vision is a remarkable organization that allows the wealthy people of the world to connect with and help children from poor countries. I actually made a commitment to sponsor one child named Providence. She lives in Rwanda and has the same birthday as my own daughter. After really listening to the needs of so many around the world, as it was presented in this book, and after truly acknowledging that I should be doing more to help, it was impossible to ignore a call to action.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Hole in Our Gospel

    If you're content with the bliss of ignorance, do not read this book.

    If you're happy with the state of the world, do not read this book.

    If you consider yourself generous and want to keep it that way, do not read this book.

    However, if it all feels a little incomplete, if you're feeling the breeze of an unpatched hole-in your life, in your walk of faith-you must read this book.

    Life-changing. Eye-opening. Heart-wrenching. Heart-healing.

    The Hole in Our Gospel will open your eyes, your heart, and your hands to the Gospel, the whole Gospel.

    It did mine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Lifechanging

    Whether you have a personal faith or not, this book is a must read for everyone. It lends a different perspective on human nature, the need for activism and change. Stearns' words have so much compassion for the poor, it compels you to act. He opened my eyes to the plight of the African people> It is a world problem, and we have the power to change it if we would just open our eyes. I now look at clean water, overspending for needless things, and life so much differently now. If you can only read one book in 2010 - read this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    This book is truly lifechanging!

    This book opened my eyes to the needs in the world and how we, as a society, are not doing an effective job in addressing those needs. It is very inspiring and motivated me to get out there and help others. I was particularly touched by the observation that there is enough money and goods in the world to prevent anyone from living in poverty - it is just dispersed in such a way that poverty remains a crucial problem. The more people that read this book - the closer we may get to a solution.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

    The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns is simply the single most important book I have read this decade. A shining reminder of what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus; and a challenge to every reader to reflect on their own walk with Jesus and how they reflect His face in the world.

    Beginning with his own story on how he was led to become the CEO of one of the worlds largest Christian non-profit organizations, Richard Stearns shares how he answered the question: "What does God expect of us?" As the former CEO of a world-wide brand of luxury giftware, Stearns had it all; the house, the Jag, the family and the cash... Then came a single phone call that would force him to re-examine his life and pursue a path charged with caring for the worlds most needy.

    If there is one book that I would recommend to anyone struggling to find their purpose, it would be this. Find it, buy it, highlight it, notate it, and never put it on your shelf - keep it in plain view each day to remind you of what is expected of you here on earth.

    Yes, I am a Book Review Blogger for ThomasNelson, but even if I weren't, I'd still have the same thoughts about this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

    Eye-opening

    The most important book I've read in a long time. Powerful...a must-read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Challenging Read

    The Hole in Our Gospel
    Richard Stearns
    Thomas Nelson, Publishers
    ISBN 978-0-7852-2918-6
    c. 2009 World Vision, Inc.

    Richard Stearns, former corporate America CEO of such giants as Parker Brothers and Lenox, recounts his quest to practice his Christian faith in The Hole in Our Gospel. The premise of his journey is the answer to the question "What does God Expect of us?" Stearns, who became president of World Vision USA, says that answering that question in his life changed not only him, but has the ability to change the world.

    The Hole in Our Gospel is an autobiographical story of Stearns's Christian walk, not an easy feat in the generally cut-throat business world. The author talks about how he was raised in a broken home but learned and was deeply influenced by matters of faith from a young age. He and his wife made sacrifices to practice their Christianity and were rewarded financially and spiritually for many years. Despite two periods in his life where Stearns was between positions, which he used as personal growth time, Stearns talks about the successes he was able to achieve as a businessman with a solid witness of faith.

    When a good friend became involved with World Vision, Stearns became a supporter of the organization. Decades later, when Stearns was urged to step out of his very comfortable life and give everything to follow Christ, he vividly shares his struggle to do so. His ultimate decision was, he says, his discovery of how the gospel was always meant to be shared: as a world-changing social revolution.

    Stearns uses scripture freely to explain how the gospel is vital to our walk, how we use it to practice our faith and why we must share Christ with others. He tackles not only our personal lives, but our congregations.Through his travels with World Vision around the globe, he recounts the stories of how Christ has changed lives in every nation.

    This story was moving and motivating, encouraging me to truly consider where I've been called to serve as a Christian. While I'm pleased to support several international and national Christ-centered organizations, I was blessed to see this picture of World Vision from the inside. The Hole in Our Gospel is a challenging book that will test your faith. Study guide included.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Hole in Our Gospel

    The Hole in Our Gospel is the story of Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, and his journey from the top of the corporate ladder, hitting his "American Dream," to his experience aiding the poor and following God's plan for his life.
    The "hole" that Stearns speaks of is the ministry of Jesus and God's command to help the poor and destitute of the world, and how in our culture we focus so much on the service aspect that we forget it is all about the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
    After reading this book I really gained a lot of insight. It is a practical book and also convicting.
    Stearns' writing style causes you reflect on your own mistakes and also learn from what he has gone through.
    I was impressed how Stearns accepted the call of God and ended up being exactly where he needed to be at the right time and place. It was a great reminder that regardless of our emotions, outer circumstances or financial situations that obeying God is the only way to be truly satisfied.
    Most of the book is a testimony of how God brought Stearns to a brand new place in his life where he couldn't help but feel passionate and excited about serving those in need. The book has so many stories of Stearns's experiences in other countries that make you realize how fortunate we are.
    One of my concerns about this book was that it would be so focused on "social justice" that it would condemn those who are "rich and powerful," but it did not go that route which made me more eager to read it. I think that there is a balance when it comes to enjoying life and God's blessings, and also in helping people. Sometimes books of this nature can have the mindset that anyone with "stuff" or living a comfortable lifestyle are somehow in sin.
    But I believe this book just really portrayed that yes that stuff is great, and helping people is also wonderful, but if we forget to share the good news of Jesus Christ with people it is really not going to change a person's life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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