Vanguard: The movement + direction of the Gospel
– Duncan Robinson
In his short 2015 ebook Vanguard: The Movement and Direction of the Gospel, published by Lucid Books, author and Pastor Duncan Robinson issues a call to leadership to rouse them to advance the Gospel of Christ in new and creative ways that many appear, by his standard, to be either unprepared or ill-equipped to carry out.
As an experienced Pastor and church planter in the United States and Australia, Pastor Robinson begins the book by crying out like John the Baptist as one calling in the wilderness to others in church leadership to “Quit!” Quit complaining, the doubt, the fear, the negativity and other things that appear common in his experience with those in leadership positions.
I don’t know this to be a common occurrence in the church in which I am considered to be in leadership and in which many successful and advancing missions are moving the Gospel message forward in unity and the love of Jesus Christ is felt in every exchange and lesson from the pulpit.
I have been in denominational churches where the negatives have been, and continue to be a commonplace thing, but the ones that are growing and where God and Jesus Christ and the Kingdom is made the foremost thing to be pursued, where Loving God and Loving Others is not just a catchphrase but a deep and abiding sense of how everyone feels toward his or her brothers and sisters and that this is what glorifies God and keeps us anchored in His will for our lives also advances the Gospel is the best thing to do day to day. So we do that.
He’s right when he says early on to “turn the Gospel loose”. Many churches never do and never will. God loves them no less. We should judge them no more.
Yet Pastor Robinson seems to do quite a bit of that in Vanguard. Again, While I agree the Gospel is advancing with or without us, we love those who get left behind “in the rear with the gear” (my phrase) just as much as those at the real vanguard who sometimes are sacrificing their lives for the Name of Jesus. The prayers of those in the rear are every bit as valid and heard as those on the front lines.
At one point in the book, Pastor Robinson seems to take another swipe at the prayers of those who, from his perspective, are doing so to avoid doing anything more strenuous for the Kingdom.
Again, in a church where the Gospel is actually advancing this probably is not happening very much and it shows by the involvement of many in many activities associated with the missions of the church in the community and among those who attend.
Pastor Robinson packs his work with many Scriptural citations, as well as citations from the works of Spurgeon, Edwards, Luther, Tozer and he even goes modern with works from Tim Keller but he loses me personally when early in the book he uses two large quotations from Mark Driscoll, the much chastised and former leader of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
His abuses of authority, language, and distinctly non pastoral behaviors, while good for coverage, circulation, and attendance at just about any gathering he is invited to, really has no place in a book where one is trying to build credibility for a position among the greats of theology. The quotations, innocuous though they may seem in context, take on a different weight when one knows the source.
Pastor Robinson has some great tools for avoiding the decline of churches, even though he willingly admits to pastoring one that didn’t quite get going in Australia. A mixed-martial arts expert, he is undoubtedly focused and discipled and will be ready to pick up the Gospel call at the next opportunity.
The last two chapters of the book are great and contain wonderfully hopeful words that might have been better placed at the beginning to draw us all in with positive ways of carrying out the Great Commission of Matthew 28, and one meant for everyone and not just for leadership.
Finally, in a chapter entitled, “Four Lepers and a Wall” Pastor Robinson caps off this ebook with this object lesson in what the western church really should look like to him, if it really wants to be “desperate for Jesus”. The story from 2 Kings 6-7 describes four lepers on the outskirts of the city, cursed, of no value but who ultimately routed and army to save their city.
This is the Vanguard.
In general, be patient for the good messages contained in the work and you will derive many good tools for those you are leading.
I’m a product review blogger and I received this product in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.