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

By Richard Stearns (Author)
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Item description for The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? the Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World by Richard Stearns...

Encouraging Christians to love their neighbors, the president of World Vision examines the manner in which worldwide poverty is handled and how it must be changed and inspires individuals to reach out by using their time, talent, and money.

Publishers Description

"Preach the Gospel always.  Use words if necessary." - St. Francis of Assisi

It's 1998 and Richard Stearns' heart is breaking as he sits in a mud hut and listens to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda.  His journey to this place took more than a long flight from the United States to Africa.  It took answering God's call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America's finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda. 

This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith.  Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel. 

Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world.  Stearns believes it can happen again.

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

"Rich Stearns has penned a passionate and persuasive book aimed at Christians who find themselves absorbed with their own existence, pursuing the American dream of health, wealth and happiness.  Rich traces his own spiritual journey from having it all, to sacrificial living on behalf of those who have nothing.  Not only is Rich eloquent, he's right."

--Kay Warren, Executive Director HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA

"An urgent, powerful summons to live like Jesus. Stearns weaves solid theology, moving stories, and his own journey of faith into a compelling call to live the whole Gospel. Highly recommended!"

--Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action, Author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger

"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

"This book is a clarion call for the church to arise and answer the question, "Who is my neighbor?"... If you read this book, you will be inspired, but if you do what this book is asking, you will be forever changed. Rich Stearns' book is like a safari for hurting souls that cannot be written in the safety of an office suite.... If you have been feeling something missing or an aching emptiness inside, read The Hole in our Gospel.  It will show you how to fill that void!"

--T.D. Jakes Sr., The Potter's House of Dallas, Inc.

"Rich Stearns' book is showing us through stories and examples how it is better to see a sermon rather than hear one.  This is an important book for all of us!"

--Tony Hall, US Ambassador and former US Congressman

"This is much more than "just another book" from a Christian leader.  It's a message to Christendom that we all need."

--Dr. Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University, author of Red Letter Christians 

"This book represents a powerful personal story; face to face experiences with the poor which changed the author's life, plus, an insightful scriptural commentary.  As happened with Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision; Richard Stearns' heart has been broken with the things that break the heart of God.   Now, Stearns is using his considerable CEO skills to serve the poor and oppressed.  I highly recommend this book."

--John M. Perkins, President, John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development, Inc.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Thomas Nelson
Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.5" Width: 6.5" Height: 1.5"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2009
Publisher   Thomas Nelson
ISBN  0785229183  
ISBN13  9780785229186  
UPC  020049059685  

Availability  0 units.

More About Richard Stearns

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Richard Stearns is an America's Cup veteran and a career sailor, sailmaker, and boatbuilder. He was both a crewmember and the sail coordinator for the Heart of America America's Cup campaign in 1986-87 and has participated in 28 Chicago-Mackinac races, finishing first overall on two occasions. He has won many prestigious regattas including the SORC regatta in Florida on three occasions, and the Chicago and Detroit NOOD regattas. During 25 years of sailmaking he has been the owner of Hood, Sobstad, and Doyle franchises in Chicago. He is also a principal owner of the LS-Boats boatbuilding company. HOMETOWN: Chicago, IL

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Reviews - What do customers think about Hole In Our Gospel?

The Hole in Our Gospel  Jun 2, 2010
Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. has written an intriguing story in The Hole in Our Gospel. Mr. Stearns, a former CEO, left his worldly success for a much more rewarding life. In doing so God used the power of the gospel to change his life. I think this book will have a huge impact on people around the world.

Richard Stearns did a good job of opening my eyes to the severity of the brutal reality impoverished people face in the world today. Mr. Stearns was direct and to the point without making readers feel guilty. He does challenge us to rethink our priorities and decisions as Christians. There are opportunities for us to help those in need. Are we doing all we should be doing?

No matter what your belief system might be, read this book. How we react and respond to what Mr. Stearn has written could drastically influence our world for the good.
Off The Mark  Jun 2, 2010
Mr. Stearns earns a star, in my view, because of his description of his own spiritual journey to become the president of World Vision, and for his description of the plight of poor people across the world. However, he is far off the mark on many points. He misinterprets Scripture from Luke 4:18 where the Lord Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2 describing His own mission:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor". Stearns maintains that "the poor" are the "poor we will always have" with us (Mt 26:11). He extrapolates from these verses in Luke 4 to say that Jesus wants His Church to change the world and that the poor should be helped by the rich (page 276). But this reading of "poor" is not what the Lord meant. The context of Isaiah 61 is God's restoration of Israel and His salvation of His people (all believers). We are ALL "the poor", without hope and destined for wrath - without His saving grace. The mission of the Lord was (and is) to rescue people from wrath and death. This is so much more important than feeding "the poor".
The Lord gave His people the same mission - to "make disciples", rescuing people from the coming wrath, and not "changing the world". He saves us to do good works (Eph 2:10). Good works such as feeding "the poor" are important, but they are SECONDARY to preaching the Gospel. Stearns turns this on its head by saying that "Poverty indeed can have profound spiritual dimensions, and reconciliation through Christ is a powerful salve in the lives of rich and poor... but does not by itself put food on the table..." (page 128). Fine, let's put food on the table, and perhaps later get around to caring for someone's eternal destination. Mr. Stearns' argument seems to be that the problem is not that people are being denied reconciliation with God but that the "good works" are not getting done. This is the cart before the horse.
The idea that Jesus is calling for a "social revolution" (page 20) and for the earth to be "transformed by transformed people" (page 20) Stearns gleans from Luke 4 and Mt 6:10 ("your kingdom come, your will be done..."). This doctrine is a creation of Mr. Stearns, and not of the Lord. Luke 4 describes the Lord's saving of a depraved people. Matthew 6 refers to the obedience of God's people to Him (the only people who can obey God) and looks to the final triumph of His kingdom - when Jesus returns. But, as Stearns acknowledges (page 16), God's kingdom is forming here on earth - in the Church. Our job is not to redeem the world but to redeem God's people out of the world, and to prepare them for works of service. Stearns' postmillennial idea that the world is perfectable and that poverty and hunger can be eliminated is at odds with Scripture. The Scripture describes the world spiraling downward despite Christians' best efforts to be salt and light, until "rebels have become completely wicked" (Dan 8:23)
Stearns thinks that people may not be ready to receive the preaching of the Gospel, but must be fed first (page 18-19, the fruit that "hasn't ripened"). But, "faith comes by hearing the message" (Rom 10:17). He describes some villagers marveling at the loving work done for them by some Christians (page 23). He said they "heard" the Gospel through the Christians' works. But, he doesn't recount that the villagers ever had the Gospel explained to them - all they got was love without the message. Is this good enough? He repeats the "Preach the Gospel always; when necessary use words" nonsense. People come to Christ by hearing the Gospel preached. Works, however loving, are not enough. But, how important does Stearns think the preaching of the Gospel is? On page 18 he says "Our job is not to manipulate or induce others to agree with us or to leave their religion and embrace Christianity". Granted on the "manipulation" and "induce", but is our job not to persuade people to "embrace Christianity"? Everyone who comes to Christ must forsake the "empty way of life handed down to [us] from [our] forefathers" (I Peter 1:18). We have to leave our "religions" and come to Christ. There is no other way to the Father.
Stearns earlier had denigrated the Great Commission when he described the attitude that many churches supposedly have towards spreading the Gospel. He says (page 17) that "our view" is that a person is saved 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". Stearns raises this straw man several times - that many churches have this "bingo card" view of evangelism. If anyone actually thinks that such a process represents true regeneration and salvation then I maintain that the "Hole" is not in our Gospel but in the teaching and preaching of our churches. But, Stearns should not minimize the fact that someone might actually begin his walk with Christ at a prayer breakfast. There needs to be sincerity of heart, repentance and growth, with caring and teaching by his brothers and sisters: discipleship.
Stearns says that the faith of individuals and churches can be evaluated by the degree to which they help the poor and unfortunate. He cites Matthew 25 where the Lord says that "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me". His point is not how "the poor" are treated, but rather how HE is treated - the poor brothers are of His Body. Feeding the poor is a good work, but is not the main thing - the Gospel is. Stearns' ministry is to the poor and that is fine, but he betrays a snobbishness when he says (page 38) that he serves God "more directly" than when he was a Lenox executive. The young ruler of Matthew 19 was told by the Lord to sell all that he had. The Lord had plenty of opportunity in His Word to tell all of His people to be preachers and teachers and full-time church staffers but He did not. If we did that, the $168 Billion Stearns said the American church could contribute to world hunger (page 218) would be history and all churches would be comfortably poor. But Stearns says that some people have a calling, and some have a career (page 93). This is a distinction that the Scripture does not make. We are to do everything for the glory of God and someone serving "more directly" is not closer to God. Stearns' pastor Dr. Toms explained the situation better to him (page 258).
In Chapter 15 Stearns describes two churches: a prosperous American church and an impoverished church in Africa. The American church has the "uncomfortable challenge of being endowed with an abundance of blessings in an extremely poor world" (page 172). Apparently, American churches could be more comfortable if churches in both places were dirt-poor. Stearns describes the (imaginary) American church as busy with programs serving the local community and the church itself, and contributing 5% towards global Missions. He says that the American church is "oblivious" (page 177) to the suffering of her sister church, and absorbed with her own, local concerns. I might be missing something but doesn't every church have her first responsibility to the people in her home area? Perhaps Stearns' complaint is the paltry 5% for Missions. He has a point (surely they can do better than 5%), but how high a percentage would be enough? He leaves the ideal response of the American church unspecified. But, accusing such churches of being "spiritual spas in which we retreat from the world" (page 180) trivializes the good work that churches must do for their local area and congregation. He devotes Chapter 21 to how the Church is perceived by the world. This is interesting but not instructive. If we change how we do things to please the world we would not be pleasing Christ.
Stearns shows in Chapter 11 that he is very aware of how complicated the situation of the poor in the world is. He describes the endless and intertwined cycles of poverty a "web". This is appropriate, but why does Stearns recommend, in his final chapters, such vague suggestions as "do something about it" (page 249), "give what we have" (page 256) and "just jump in, and start doing" (page 273). I suppose he is just trying to elicit a vision in his readers. But, my opinion is that he is trying to get access to that $168 Billion - not for his own enrichment, but because he would be an excellent manager of it. He would tackle a mission we are not commanded ("changing the world") and give the Gospel second billing.
An absolute must READ!  Jun 2, 2010
It has won the 2010 Christian book of the year award by the Evangelical Christians Publishing Association. After reading it myself I can see why The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns deserves the award.
In The Hole in Our Gospel the author essentially takes us into a discussion that calls for us not simply to be transformed on the inside by the gospel of Jesus Christ but this transformation should lead us to a public display and passion in helping fight poverty and injustice.
Stearns writes in the introduction:
"The idea behind The Hole in Our Gospel is quite simple. It's basically the belief that being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world." (p.2)
Truth be told I'm not sure that any book review including this one can provide or fully explain the impact this book can have in ones life. Richard Stearns who begins by detailing his story from corporate CEO to non-profit president of World Vision makes an incredible, compelling case both biblically and practically about our fundamental moral obligation as a Christian (or anyone with a heart) to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
One of the great things about The Hole in Our Gospel is the bountiful statistics that he gives and then is able to put them in perspective. Such as:
"In the United States and Europe, only about 2 out of every 1,000 children die before their fifth birthday. In Africa, on the other hand, 165 (16.5 percent) of each 1,000 are dead by age five. And in Sierra Leone, the worst country in the world for child mortality, 28.2 percent of all children are dead by age much of Africa a teenager is already what we would call "middle-aged." (p.140)
In full disclosure I get free books from Thomas Nelson who published the book and write book reviews for them. Those that know me though, and read this blog understand that if this book of nearly 300 pages stunk, I would have made it clear!
With that stated without hesitation I not only recommend this book, but challenge all (including myself) to then go and do something, as Richard Stearns finishes his book:
"You, Me, let's go. We have work to do, and it's urgent. Join Me...
Interesting and Inspirational  Jun 1, 2010
And here's my conundrum: I wanted to like this book. I wanted to go along with what he's saying - however, I cannot support Stearns' theology. He suggests that caring for the poor will usher in the Kingdom of God on earth and continually quotes scripture out of context to support this idea. (Forgetting that the Scripture he's using are the words of Jesus spoken to those with him at the time.) Also, I hesitate to say that caring for our neighbors or the poor is a hole in our gospel. It might be a hole in the way we reach others, and it might be a hole in the way we respond...but it's not a hole in the gospel. Assuming you see the gospel as the message of Christ coming to earth to die for us and be resurrected in order to save us from our sins...I think the way we reach people with the gospel - whether they be rich and well-fed, or poor and needy - is not part of the gospel. It's like here's point A - the gospel...Here's sub-point 1., 2., 3. "how we reach others with the good news."

Now...that being said, of course I enjoyed his biographical chapters and found his leaving his presidency of Lenox to be the president of World Vision to be inspiring. I also thought he gave good ideas for what we can do as our part of reaching the poor and needy and appreciated his insight. And using Bono as our spiritual leader in all things socially spiritual...well, how can any of us stand up to that? (wink, wink)
Repairing the Hole  Jun 1, 2010
On the surface, The Hole in our Gospel, is another book on social justice sure to be filled with statistics and facts that pull at your heart string long enough to get you completely discouraged. However, beyond that it's much much more. The Hole in our Gospel is actually about one man's journey to brokenness and his climb back into God's purposes. Richard Stearns is a man with an amazing story that goes a long way in communicating just how valuable we are to God, and how specific his plans for us can be.

This book is written so beautifully that it draws you in immediately. Richard Stearns does an amazing job of telling the story and then inviting you to join the team. This isn't your typical social justice guilt trip, but instead its a book that will leave you feeling empowered to make a difference. Stearns then goes so far to give practical how to application so that there is actually something to do. If you really want to know the whys and hows of eradicating poverty and other social justice issues then The hole in our Gospel is a must read. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to join the fight against poverty.

Thomas Nelson did provide me with a copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing it, however, I don't actually have to say nice things about it!

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