Book Review: Barefoot Church

BarefootHatmaker is a pastor, church planter and non-profit organizer. He is the lead pastor of Austin New Church and the co-founder of Restore Communities.

The Barefoot Church is about bringing Christ’s social gospel to reality in our local churches. The author calls churches to be the light that shines in the darkness of a world that leaves many behind. The book provides many examples and anecdotal stories and gives a difficult challenge for churches and individual believer to begin serving the poor, widow and orphans in their neighborhoods. The author is not a particularly gifted theologian, but he does understand that serving the poor is important to Jesus.

Many have viewed this book as a gimmick to plant successful churches. Instead, it is a two-thousand-year-old command. It echoes the call that Christ gives again and again in the Bible to serve the poor, help the homeless and love the unlovable. Jesus is not making a request when he calls us to serve. Our Savior has commanded us to use our time, talents, and treasures to aide the needy. He has called all of us to serve the least of these.

The author points out that it would be nice to ask God why he allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when he could do something about it. But, unfortunately God could ask us the same question. We often confuse the heart of compassion that requires a response with the feeling of sympathy that remains idle.

The Scriptures command us to love our neighbor and does not give us an out if our neighbor is difficult or lazy. As Christians we are to treat hunger, poverty and social injustice as contrary to the mercy our Lord calls us to provide for others. We should serve others and meet their needs without judgment or prejudice.

Today in the US churches are building huge multi-million dollar buildings that remain mostly empty for five days a week. We are creating programs that serve those already saved and make them feel comfortable. This book should be read by church leaders and staff to help develop a culture of service within the church. A culture change is needed in our modern Western churches. That change must abandon the personal security and comfort we have made a priority and instead call us to return to the service and mercy Christ called us to.

About Mike

Mike, 49, grew up in California and spent 38 years of his life there. He received an undergraduate degree in Political Science, graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary and is pursuing a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. Before accepting God’s call to fulltime missions, Mike worked in the California State Senate for 12 years. He became a Christian at the age of 20. Mike was a Ruling Elder at Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church(PCA) for seven years. While at Soaring Oaks, Mike served as the Director of the High School Youth Group, Sunday school teacher, and instructor of evangelism. His cross-cultural missions experience includes five short term trips to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Peru (Lima and Cusco) through Mission to the World (MTW). He has volunteered with World Relief by teaching and counseling international refugees. Mike has also attended cross-cultural church planting conferences in New York and Orlando and completed the Perspectives course on the World Christian Movement. He attended Bible Study Fellowship for two years. He is a certified instructor through Evangelism Explosion and is a certified trainer of the Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention program. He completed MTW‘s Disaster Response Training. Mike is an experienced speaker and author. Over 70 of Mike's articles on missions have been published and he has written three books. He is a trained and experienced mentor, discipler, leader and a passionate teacher of small groups and Bible studies. Mike received an undergraduate degree in Political Science, graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. Before accepting God’s call to fulltime missions, Mike was a Ruling Elder, Youth Group Leader, adult Sunday school teacher and evangelism instructor at Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church in Elk Grove, CA. Mike is an experienced speaker and author. Over 70 of Mike's articles on missions have been published and he has written three books. He is a trained and experienced mentor, discipler, leader and a passionate teacher of small groups and Bible studies. From 2007 to 2017 Mike served as a fulltime missionary for MTW. Mike served as Team Leader, Church Planter, and Seminary Professor. Mike and his wife Erin served in Honduras in Central America and Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa. Mike currently serves as the Director of the MTW West Coast Hub where he trains and mentors new missionaries from CA, AZ, & NV. Mike is also busy writing his next book.
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