Each month, you’ll hear from one of us on what we’re reading and a little bit about the book. Enjoy!
When I would tell people the title of the book I was reading, The Unsaved Christian by Dean Inserra, I would often get questioning looks. Is it even possible to be an “unsaved Christian”? The subtitle of the book is “Reaching Cultural Christianity With the Gospel.” That’s what Dean means with his thought-provoking title—cultural Christianity does not always equal true faith in the gospel of Christ.
Dean, like me, grew up in the Bible belt of the South, where not attending a church was more uncommon than going every Sunday. In this sort of culture, a new sort of Christianity formed. What Dean calls “cultural Christians” can take on many forms—friends who go to church twice a year; adults baptized as infants or children, without an understanding of the gospel; “good people”; family members of faithful saints, hoping faith reaches across generations.
In the book, Dean first builds his case for reaching cultural Christians, saying first we have to “help them get lost.” In order to reach people with the gospel, they first need to know they need it. Dean says,
When we think of unreached people groups, we envision intrepid missionaries taking the gospel to a place where the name of Jesus has never been spoken. But many American pastors are faced with a similarly daunting task: to bring Jesus to a place where He is admired but not worshipped, where God is a grandpa in the sky, where many of their congregants are “good people” who didn’t know they needed to be saved.
While he is speaking specifically of pastors in that passage, the same is true for all of us called to take the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Each chapter of the book that follows provides practical advice for sharing the gospel with cultural Christians along with clear explanations of the gospel message. Dean writes,
Gospel presentations must point people to God’s holiness, the consequences of sin, the forgiveness needed, and reconciliation that is only possible for those who believe the gospel by faith. … We need to be saved from God, by God, to a relationship with God that is expressed in the worship of Jesus Christ.
Dean gives conversation pointers, along with the central message different forms of cultural Christians need to hear. Each chapter also includes questions for reflection and discussion. Many of the chapters feature articles with more specific helps for churches and individuals in how to disciple, how to evangelize, and how to introduce the gospel in everyday conversations.
If you’re looking to reach your neighbors for Christ, no matter their church membership status, I’d recommend picking up this book. While The Unsaved Christian is primarily a practical book intended to advise and help us reach the lost, it also serves as a beautiful reminder of the gospel. We all were once “unsaved.” For those of us who have the hope of Christ, we now have the privilege of sharing the good news with others—you can be saved!
Elizabeth Hyndman reads, writes, and tweets. Officially, she’s a Content Editor at LifeWay. She managed to find a job where she uses both her English undergraduate and her seminary graduate degrees every day. Elizabeth grew up in Nashville, sips chai lattes every chance she can get, and believes everyone should have a “funny picture” pose at the ready. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.