16 January 2013

Review: Not A Fan (Teen Edition) by Kyle Idleman

This is the Teen Edition of Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus, which was first published in 2011. I don't know how different it is from the adult edition, but it's easy to read and has some amusing asides that will appeal to teenage readers (well, they appeal to me, so I hope they appeal to teens as well).

There are some negative reviews for the adult version of Not a Fan, criticising the way it seems to promote two 'classes' of Christian and even going so far as to suggest that these second-class Christians might not actually be saved. But I think this is a valid question for teens. How many teens are in church because that's what their family does on Sunday? And how many are there because their friends are? How many are actually in church because they want to be?

We sometimes talk about how “God wants your time,” or “God wants your money,” or “God wants your worship.” But do you understand why we talk about those things? It’s not because God needs your time. He has always been and always will be. It’s not because he needs your money. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. If God needed your money he could take it. It’s not that God needs your worship. If you don’t worship, the Bible says that the rocks and trees will cry out. The reason we talk about those things is not because God needs or wants those things; it’s because he wants only you. He wants your love. He longs for you to passionately pursue him, and all those things are come after indicators. They are outer signs that point to an inner reality that you love Jesus more than anything else.

Several of the books I've read recently have had an underlying theme of the importance of the language we use, and this is not exception. I've sat in church many times and listened to a preacher exhort the congregation to “make a decison for Jesus”. Some will acknowledge that this is just the first step in a long journey. But few call it a commitment to Jesus. In this, it seems that the church itself is seeking fans, not followers. Reading this, it also strikes me that many Christian novels feature fans, not followers. Those novels that do have followers as major characters are often criticised for being 'too preachy'.

I liked the start of Not A Fan. Idleman not putting himself up there as some almost-perfect paragon that we should all follow, but as a fallible man who has learnt some things he would like to share. There are many nuggets of truth, such as “the one thing we are most reluctant to give up is the one thing that has the most potential to become a substitute for him” (being Jesus). However, I thought that the last quarter was pretty repetitive and didn’t add anything new.

The author is not afraid to laugh at himself and has that rare gift of writing humour without descending into cliche or cringe. Although I'm much older than the target age group, the message came through loud and strong. It was challenging, but it was also encouraging. Overall, a challenging and encouraging read.

Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Kyle Idleman at the Not A Fan website, or his church website.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your review, Iola. I've heard Kyle preach and really liked Not a Fan. It's a challenging book that makes the reader examine their level of commitment.