The premise of Washington, D.C., pastor Mark Batterson’s latest book is the greatest commandment found in Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” He focuses on those four components of a person–heart, soul, mind and strength–to get at the very heart of Christianity. Essentially, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity offers a full-person butt kicking.
Batterson explores how we need to use all four of these components in our journey to know God. If we lack in any area, we’re not getting the full experience and we’re missing out. That’s where it becomes a full-body butt kicking, as we realize the areas where we’re not reaching our potential. But Batterson is always encouraging, diving into each area with passion and curiosity, offering suggestions and insights into how to pursue God in each area.
Engaging the whole person is why this book matters for a church communication site. Too often our spirituality is simply about the heart or the soul. In doing so, we lose out on the imagination. Batterson argues that “the church ought to be the most creative place on the planet,” (113) but instead “the greatest threat to the future of the church is a failure of our God-given imagination” (112). Dreaming and creating are two powerful acts of worship and important aspects of our journey with God. That’s something a communicator can get behind.
But there’s also the reminder that dreaming alone doesn’t get us anywhere. There comes a time when we need to go beyond praying, loving or dreaming and do something. We need to take action in the strength of our bodies. It’s through doing that we show our love and our passion. We give life to our creativity through sweat and we make our theology a reality in our work. And that work is never easy, but anything worth doing is hard.
Here Batterson gives us a good reminder about perseverance: “We’re not creative because it’s too hard. And we give up too easily. … The greatest predictor of success in any endeavor is persistence. It’s not only how hard you try, it’s also how long you try. We tend to overestimate how much we can accomplish in the short term. But we underestimate how much we can accomplish over the long haul” (136-138).
So for anyone involved in helping their church communication I’d recommend Batterson’s Primal. We could all use the reminder that we need to love God with our whole being, not just our heart and our soul, but also our mind and our strength. Our creativity, imagination and sweat are often overlooked components in communicating the matters of God.