Thursday, August 11, 2016

Outcry, by Ryan Romeo

Ryan Romeo has been a point person in organizing a series of large-scale worship concerts featuring some of the biggest names in Christian music.  His book OUTCRY: New Voices Speak Out About the Power of the Church could have been a promotional puff piece for his concerts and the artists.  It is that, to a limited extent, but it's actually much more than that.

The OUTCRY artists, including Crowder, Bethel Music, Rend Collective, and others, play the "big rooms," sell lots of records, and get plenty of radio airplay.  They could easily see themselves as aloof from the local church, existing on a plane superior to the weekly ins and outs of average congregations.  Far from that, both Romeo's text and the shorter selections written by the artists wholeheartedly embrace and endorse the local church, large and small. 

Romeo write that OUTCRY isn't a movement in itself.  "The next big thing is here.  But it's been here for two thousand years.  It's the local church."  He calls us to love Jesus by loving his bride.  He calls us to service to the church in order to make a "meaningful impact on friends, family, and community."  The local church is "a worthy and significant calling to give your life to." 

Beyond that, Romeo calls on the church to enjoy our unity.  He acknowledges that there are theological differences among denominations, but that our similarities should drive us toward communal worship and fellowship.  The OUTCRY worship concerts are a perfect setting and expression of unity: drawing diverse Christians together for worship, while affirming the many expressions of worship and varied theological perspectives in local churches.  I like his take on Jesus' prayer for unity: "Will we see a perfect unity in the church one day?  Yes, because Jesus prayed for it.  Do we have it yet?  No, because Jesus prayed for it."

OUTCRY challenges readers to embrace the local church and pour themselves into it.  Romeo also tells stories of the unity and fellowship the OUTCRY artists enjoyed while on tour, a model for our interactions with other Christians.  These artists play on a big stage, and lots of people know their names, but they are playing for an audience of one, glorifying the name of the one who knows all of our names.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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