Book Review: No Perfect People Allowed

I’ve decided that I’m going to upgrade my intentions with this blog by writing a mid-week book review on one of the several books that I’m reading.  Some of these books may not be interesting to you, so any recommendations are certainly welcome.  One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to read one or two classic novels.  Lucky for me, Amazon Kindle allowed me to download a slew of them for free, so hopefully I’ll be getting to those in the near future.  On we go…

No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke is a biography and a manifesto.  It’s the story of Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas and how its dedication to creating a culture of “come as you are” made a splash in the marginalized communities.  I’m about half way through the book, and so far I’ve been impressed at Burke’s ability to read and understand the realities of people outside the church, as well as the reasons as to why these people have remained outside the church -both by their efforts and the efforts of church folk.  Burke speaks to major sensitivities such as authenticity and tolerance, attributes many people look for in a church but rarely stumble across.

Honestly, this book is probably more helpful for churched people than anyone else.  We now live in a post-Christian era where one must assume that the majority of people they encounter in the workplace or grocery store are non-religious, atheist, agnostic, or at the very least stay far away from church communities.  Secular is the new norm.  But this doesn’t mean that people aren’t asking cosmic questions or searching for spirituality.  Most people would love to explore their faith in a church if only they were given the permission, freedom, and acceptance to do so.  This doesn’t mean that a church must compromise their own core beliefs or Christian distinction.  Burke explains the struggle Gateway has had in helping people understand that acceptance doesn’t always mean “agreement.”  I agree with this.  The premise of the Christian faith is that God loves everyone just as they are, but that God also wishes better for everyone.  Better for themselves and better for their life.  Acceptance is a must, but no one ought to stay the same.

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