“We are at a point where it’s fair to ask whether stepping back would be an improvement over our negative impact. Is no influence better than negative influence.”
– Ed Cyzewski
Not everyone will think this is a necessary book. But many will. And all would do well to hear it out.
The book is The Great Evangelical Retreat: Finding Hope in Surrender by Ed Cyzewski. Ed is an avid Christ-follower and a thinker for Christianity in our culture. I’ve read most of his books and I follow his blog here.
One intended audience for this short book? Anybody disillusioned with evangelicalism, but not quite ready to give up on it.
Many of us have had moments of embarrassment over the evangelical community the past couple of years. From leaders’ actions. From political gaffes. From our own improper responses.
So should we just walk away from evangelicalism?
Ed posits an alternate solution. Because where Christ is, there is always hope for better.
He doesn’t suggest we give up altogether, but he does suggest we walk away for a minute to regroup.
Ed suggests a retreat to the wilderness—not to get away from “the world” or to save our “Christian culture,” but to seek God anew. To be filled with the Spirit, not with our dogmas and institutions.
“By seeking God in solitude and silence, we can retreat from our failures, misconceptions, and misdirections. We can regain our footing on solid ground and seek a path that is grounded in God’s love for all.”
By journeying away for a time of reflection (and what better time than Lent?), we can let go of any opposition against perceived attacks, we can look more objectively at what has been happening, and we can better listen to what is actually being said.
“If evangelicals can step back for a moment from our defensive positions where we want to assert the goodness of our movement, perhaps we will have eyes to see and ears to hear. We need to see reality and the damage we have done. We need to listen to the pain and confusion we have caused.”
We can learn ways to reconnect with the good fruit of the movement and let go of the rotten pieces.
“Each evangelical group needs to prove its value through its vitality and fruit, not simply arguing for its existence by virtue of holding onto the accomplishments of the past or maintaining external signs of influence and power.”
We can then better confess what we’ve gotten wrong. Repent of it. Find ways to restore. And redirect our efforts.
“This isn’t a public relations, political correctness, or liberal media issue. This is on us. Occasional moral failures here and there can be understood. These are deeper failures to approach the world with mercy, compassion, and love.”
By the grace of God, we can do this. We can recenter on God. Then proceed with more love for him and more love for others.
The last paragraph of The Great Evangelical Retreat includes these words of encouragement:
“The good news is that those who desire God will find God. Those who seek will find. Those who ask shall receive. . . . We may not find God in the ways that we’re expecting. We may not experience the revival we’ve been promised. We will find a God who has been restoring and leading women and men through the wilderness and in solitude for generations.”
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Right now you can download The Great Evangelical Retreat here for free or buy it on Amazon for $0.99.
And it’s only 46 pages. That’s another thing I love about Ed’s writings: he doesn’t fluff out a message to fill a standard 240-page book. He says what he has to say, then is done with it.
There will eventually be 7 more books in this series, Evangelicals After the Shipwreck: Toward a Loving and Transformed Church. Book 2, Why Evangelicals Need the Wilderness, is already available here for $0.99.
For a short daily retreat, read a chapter in the gospels of Mark and John during 40 days of Lent. Get the reading plan from Do Not Depart, #40DaysWithJesus, and join the Facebook community for daily conversations.
Are you fasting or feasting on anything during Lent to retreat in Jesus? Please share in the comments.
- Let Them Help You
- Give This Kind of Grace Generously