Greg Matte is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas. His book, Unstoppable Gospel: Living Out the World-Changing Vision of Jesus’s First Followers, is a journey through the book of Acts, and the story of how FBC of Houston embraced a world-changing vision. Matte discusses in each chapter principles found in the book of Acts regarding taking the Gospel to the local community or the world. He intersperses stories from his church and others that illustrate those principles put into practice.
For those used to reading pastors who write, Matte’s style of writing is familiar. Others may struggle with it. Once I got into the book and imagined the book as a conversation rather than writing, I was able to read it comfortably.
This point of disagreement is probably just quibbling in the eyes of some, but for me, it is an important distinction. Matte asserts that all believers are missionaries, which is something I hear often. I agree that all believers are to share the Gospel and to make disciples, but the term “missionary” implies doing that cross-culturally. There is a significant difference between telling a co-worker here in the United States about Jesus and going into another culture, learning a different language, and telling someone who knows nothing of Christianity about Jesus.
The following is not a weakness, but an alert to the reader. One should not expect in-depth exegesis of the book of Acts. There is some background study of the Acts, but for the most part, Matte focuses on practical application, which fits his goal and purpose in writing. This point leads to the strengths of the book.
Matte’s points are practical. His book will be of great use to church leaders seeking to revitalize their churches. I highly recommend reading it with that purpose in mind. Some leaders in smaller churches may think, “Yes, but its First Baptist Houston. We’re too small.” The size of Matte’s church doesn’t make the principles less true for all churches. The scale of what a smaller church can do is not as large, but the guiding principle is the same.
Also, I appreciated Matte’s emphasis on prayer. Prayer and reliance on God’s Spirit and power were recurring themes throughout the book. So many books about ministry mention prayer, at first, but seemingly forget as the author presents the how-to steps. Matte keeps going back to prayer as foundational for a church’s ministry.
Finally, I admired Matte’s passion and his love for his church. Too many pastors don’t seem to enjoy what they are doing or admire their church. Matte does, and it is refreshing.
(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes from Baker. I was under no obligation to write a positive review.)