Wineskins Archive

December 10, 2013

Book Review: I’m a Fan of “Not a Fan” (Mar 2012)

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By Marian Amo

What happens when you write a book that examines the principles behind a movement? You get a best-selling masterpiece and some critics.

That is what happened to Kyle Idleman, the author of Not A Fan and the pastor behind the not-a-fan movement from the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville Kentucky.

Not A Fan is unlike any Christian book I have read before in its ability to impact my life at the turn of each chapter. That’s a lot for me to say about a book given that I read books from authors such as Philip Yancey, Francis Chan, Andy Stanley, Jentezen Franklin, Jim Cymbala, Joshua Harris, Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Shannon Etheridge, Joyce Meyer, Max Lucado, Liberty Savard, Rick Warren, Michael Card, Ravi Zacharias and much more. So what made this book so special? In one word: relatability. It’s not that all the other books were unable to relate to their readers, it’s that Idleman says in his book what everyone is thinking but no one wants to say. It’s like having a friend in your group of associates who’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind. That person is usually the funniest and the most honest in the group.

Idleman presents powerful truths in a digestible way through a mix of testimonies, personal anecdotes and hilarious scenes. In his book, Idleman explores the fundamental barrier in the Christian walk; the mentality of seeing Christ as someone to adore but not one to make us change. Christ becomes the symbol we cheer for on the sidelines. We applaud his miracles in our books and praise the faithfulness of his love in our churches, but he is not someone we are willing to suffer for at work, endure embarrassment for in the midst of our friends, chose discomfort for in the face of luxury and chose his will over our seemingly better plans.

According to Idleman, one of the major reasons why Christians settle into being “fans” rather than committed followers of Christ is because Christ was sold to them as a ticket out of hell. Salvation is often offered as a free buffet of God’s goodness and a security deposit for Heaven. Rarely is it explained as God’s ultimate sacrifice to reclaim authority and ownership over our lives through his original design of having a relationship with us. Relationships take work, they require sacrifice, they cause us to change, and they uncover our selfishness and insecurities. Not A Fan revealed to me that Christ wants a relationship that is greater than friendship, deeper than family, more committed than marriage and more intense than that of lovers.

Although his book aims at motivating believers to take their relationship with God to the next level, some have criticized his points as legalistic and borderline fanaticism. In one of the testimonies featured, a young suburban couple sold all of their belongings to start a feeding program in a remote village of Dominican Republic. Another couple sold one of their cars and offered the money to their church ministries. For those who regard the Christian faith as going to church on Sunday and behaving well, Idleman’s examples of sacrifice might seem a bit much. However, a careful reading of the book shows that the author understands that it’s not so much the works and sacrifices we make that reflects our faith, but the condition of our hearts in the choices we make that reflect our commitment to Christ.

This is the kind of book that jump-starts your spiritual engine when your battery dies or at least refuels your passion for Christ when you’re running low. Whether you have a heart for evangelism or just looking for a deeper  understanding of your Christian walk, this is the book to read. Without a doubt this book will continue to cause a stir in wide verities of Christian circles. After all, it was born out of a movement of believers who want a radical Christianity — believers who are not satisfied with simply being a fan.

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