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The Hole in Our Gospel

Author Richard Stearns
Narrator Tommy Creswell
Runtime 10.5 Hrs. - Unabridged
Publisher Thomas Nelson
Downloads ZIP MP3 M4B
Release Date March 11, 2009
Availability: Unrestricted (available worldwide)

This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.

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This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.

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A wake up call
This is one of the most significant books in my life, waking me up to the call of the whole Gospel and the importance God puts on the well-being of his creation. God actually cares about people having enough to eat, having clean water, being happy in their ability to sustain themselves and about justice, mercy, kindness and true righteousness, the kind of righteousness that looks after people and cares about relationships rather merely about adheriing to a set of rules and rituals. I highly recommend this book. A great companion to this book is Tim Keller's "Generous Justice," which takes a close look at what God intended in Scripture when he gave his Law to the Jewish people.
Review by / (Posted on 7/29/2013)
This is a must read book for anyone who has ever wondered should I choose money or GOD
This was a fantastic book by Richard Stearns that encapsulated the difficulties found within the church. Whether the discussion centered on the often argued subject of tithing or on the definition of poverty and the plight of the poor or the cost of war, Richard delves into these areas with a critical analysis that his expertise lends.

The interesting thing about this book comes from its author, who left a high paying job as a CEO to accept his calling with World Vision. Richard wrestled with this decision and, in essence, with GOD. It was amazing to hear him recall how he kept waiting for the search commitee to move on to another candidate and all the reasons he was not the right person for the job.

While I loved this book and enjoyed many aspects of it, I do not share Richard Stearns opinion of the cost of war. I agree that war is terrible and there is a literal cost in wasted lives and potential as well as in monetary terms.

I also understand his point about how much money is spent in building up each nation's military, while a reduction in that cost could eradicate poverty in the world. That was absolutely correct. However, the world is not that simplistic because there has been evil as long as we have had this world. Therefore, there continues to be evil people who want to us harm.

It is not as easy as cutting back on our military when there is a real threat out there. In this day and age of radical Islam and Jihadists it would be foolish to expect a reduction in the military.

In the final analysis, GOD will prevail in our world and Richard Stearns shows us the steps that need to be taken so we can live as HE intended. Please buy this book if you get the chance because it is well worth the price for it.
Review by / (Posted on 9/26/2011)
Optimistic Realism
Stearns laments, "[O]ur view of the gospel has been narrowed to a simple transaction, marked by checking a box on a bingo card at some prayer breakfast, registering a decision for Christ, or coming forward during an altar call. ... In our evangelistic effort to make the good news accessible and simple to understand, we seem to have boiled it down to a kind of 'fire insurance' that one can buy." He continues, incorporating the title and the premise of the book. "There is a real problem with this limited view of the kingdom of God; it is not the whole gospel. Instead, it's a gospel with a gaping hole" (p. 17).

What would the gospel without the gaping hole look like? Stearns says, "If we are to be part of this coming kingdom, God expects our lives - our churches and faith communities too - to be characterized by these authentic signs of our own transformation: compassion, mercy, justice and love - demonstrated tangibly" (p. 57).

I found this book to be very engaging, challenging, and well-written. It is clear that Stearns is living the message that he is proclaiming. He has experienced the best of times and the worst of times, and they have both combined to form a powerful mixture of intelligence, clarity, and passion.

Using stirring stories, relevant Scripture passages, eye-opening statistics, and personal insights, this book is the best I have ever encountered on the subject of trading in the American Dream of fleeting success for God's Dream of everlasting shalom (peace) in the world.

In the face of such a large agenda, Stearns advocates for neither optimism nor pessimism, but realism. He concludes, "The pessimist here sees only obstacles. The optimist sees only possibilities. But the realist sees the possibilities between the two. And that's who we must be. We must be people of the possible" (pp. 274-275).
Review by / (Posted on 5/2/2011)
Compelling and convicting
Part biography and part call to action, I found this to be quite compelling overall. It's very well written, and the message is communicated effectively. It could have used a few more mentions of other organizations beyond World Vision (there are some, but readers may be curious for more), but overall I highly recommend it.
Review by / (Posted on 2/14/2011)
Balanced view of faith and works
“The Hole in Our Gospel” is an autobiographical book about Richard Stearns’ journey from CEO of Lennox to President of World Vision. Not only is this an autobiography, but also a call to Christians to put their faith to action by helping those less fortunate.
I appreciate Stearns’ transparency and honesty in his book. It seemed like he had the perfect life: good family life, good job, good income. But he trusted in the Lord and gave up his worldly success to work with those in need. Giving up his life of luxury wasn’t easy. He talks about his struggles and resistance to leave his life behind. However, he knew what the Lord was calling him to do and so he finally surrendered all that he had to become the president of World Vision.
I believe Stearns’ outlook borders on the “Social Gospel” trend, but he is also one of the more balanced authors I’ve heard regarding this subject. He uses examples and principles in the Bible regarding putting your faith into action and helping the poor and oppressed. I’m glad that he discussed the balance of faith and works. Christians are saved by faith, but proof of that faith should be good works. After listening to his audiobook, I believe that every Bible-believing church needs to have a ministry/ministries that focuses on the poor and/or less fortunate.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that he seems to admire people that I would consider good humanitarians, but are not Bible-believing Christians. It seemed a bit ecumenical.
The narrator had a pleasant voice, but I thought he read a little too slow for me.
“The Hole in Our Gospel” was inspiring, challenging, and encouraging. It is a call for Christians to get out of their comfort zone and do something to impact the lives of those less fortunate.
This review was written as part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program.
Review by / (Posted on 12/19/2010)
Faith without works is . . .
Review of “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns and narrated by Tommy Creswell

Review: 4 Stars (out of 5)

Richard Stearns is a very inconvenient man. He is of that dangerous sort who comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. “The Hole in Our Gospel” is an inconvenient book. It actually has the temerity to assert that Jesus Christ of Nazareth meant what He said about His mission “to proclaim good news to the poor . . . proclaim liberty to the captives and recover of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Stearns presses his point home to challenge the average American Christian’s “easy believe-ism” and to ask whether we even believe if our faith is not backed up with works of charity, social justice and compassion. Well read by Tommy Creswell, this is not a book that you “enjoy.” This is a book that challenges you. This book would get a 5 star rating, however, there are instances where the book simply seems redundant or stalls out on a point already made. Well worth the listen. “The Hole in Our Gospel” will challenge you to move beyond intellectual assent into action. And that IS the Gospel.

A special thanks to the folks at christianaudio Reviewers Program for the advance copy for review through the christianaudio Reviewers Program.

-Dave Melton (December 3, 2010)
Review by / (Posted on 12/3/2010)
Everyone Should Read This Book
"The Hole In Our Gospel" written by Richard Stearns has been released in audiobook format by Christian Audio and is available from them at Christian Audio (

Richard Stearns has written a book in which he asks a fundamental question: What does God expect of us? His answer is what makes up the content of this book. Mr. Stearns takes us on a journey through his own life from growing up in a dysfunctional and low-income home to CEO, to unemployment, to CEO again--and finally to his current position of President of Worldvision US. Mr. Stearns cuts right to the heart of the problems of poverty, hunger, disease, and injustice that are ravaging our world using scripture to show us how "the least of these" really matter not just to us, but to God. Mr. Stearns clearly points out the fatal errors of we "Christians" worshiping God in beautiful church buildings with full tummies while our "neighbors" are cold, wet, hungry and homeless. You cannot read this book finish it and not be changed by the experience.

It is an injustice to say that Tommy Creswell is the reader of this book. Tommy Creswell brings his soothing voice and manages to bring to life what was originally written on pages. Mr. Creswell does a magnificent job of creating the emotion of the moment as we travel through what Mr. Stearns had written.

I, personally, do not have time to just sit and read all the books that I would like to read so audiobooks make my life much easier. I can take the book with me in the car and play it while I am driving to work or to the store. We need the ability to fill up our commute with good Christian material that will allow us to expand our world and gain new insight into what is going on around us. Christian Audio meets that need.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this audiobook free from Christian Audio. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Review by / (Posted on 11/19/2010)
Loved this book!

4.0 out of 5 stars It's what you believe enough to do that counts..., July 6, 2010
"It is not what you believe that counts, it is what you believe enough to do, that counts."

This quote from Stern's former pastor is perhaps my favorite quote from "The Hole in Our Gospel" and pretty much sums up the problem facing the church when it comes to dealing with the poor and poverty in general. I think we all agree that we are to help "the least of these" as called for in Scripture. Unfortunately, too many of us leave that to someone who was "called" to help the poor.

To often we dismiss the poor as people who have brought their misfortune on themselves somehow. It's not our fault that they were unlucky enough to be born in a third-world country--don't we have enough to deal with in our own lives or in our own country? That selfish kind of thinking doesn't fly with Sterns. His book is a gentle yet in-your-face challenge to each of us to put some action behind the faith we piously wave around and do something, anything to make a difference.

Sterns does it by weaving his own story and very personal challenges of living out his faith (I love the way he eases the reader into a very hard topic through the transparency of sharing his own shortcomings) with great research and statistics about and examples of the worldwide struggles against poverty, disease and injustice that plague so much of the world. The book is not without hope. He shares several ways that the poor are being helped as well as stories of others who are doing their part to make a difference.

Sterns does have a great deal of criticism for the church and it's lack of action, but he does so in a compelling and convicting way, not with harsh condemnation or finger-pointing that might repel the reader. I highly recommend this thought-provoking read. You will not be the same or look at the world in the same way after you read it.

I received this book as part of the reviewers program. I was not required to give a positive review.
Review by / (Posted on 10/25/2010)
I was fortune enough to listen...

I was fortune enough to listen to this book for free as part of the audio-book reviewer program. You can download the audio-book from this link:

There is also a FREE 6 lesson study guide available to download from: I recommend using this study guide along side reading the book because there is a lot of information to take in, and using the study guide helps to solidify what is being said.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was inspirational as well as challenging. The authors re-telling of the way God called him to be the CEO of World Vision gave me hope that God can use me as well to do great things, and a desire to be open to this type of calling in my life. In particular the first 20 chapters, and the last couple were great as the author explains the functional response to the gospel and the work of the Spirit in the life of a regenerate Christian, his application of the scriptures was spot-on, but some of his interpretation and articulation was a bit wonky, I found this mainly between chapter 20 and about 25.

This book focuses mainly on the application of the gospel in the world, the outpouring and manifestation of the Holy Spirit in someone's life that results in the fruit of compassion and self-sacrifice and a myriad of other attributes that are impossible to sustain without the Spirit of God working in and through some-one.

But I think the title is misleading, as it actually misses the gospel. You see the "Good News" about Jesus Christ is not helping the poor, it is basically that Jesus died for our sins, so that we through grace do not suffer our due punishment at the hands of a wrathful God, but rather we inherit the reward that Christ earned on our behalf, this is through no effort of our own.

For a long time there has been 2 camps as far as the gospel goes, the first focuses predominately on the teaching of the gospel, the second on the functional outpouring in a Christians life as a result of being transformed by the gospel. Both camps call this "the gospel", and both are right, but both are wrong in my opinion.

The accurate teaching of the gospel of salvation is totally necessary for salvation, this is what our faith is in that saves us through God's grace, but the Spirit of God is not benign, He changes our hearts, so that His fruit pours out of us in tangible ways that image the glory of God to all creation (Earthly and Heavenly), this is the purpose for which God created us. You see, they both work together to bring glory to God.

Often it is the works of compassion that open people's eyes and hearts up to be open to the gospel of salvation, through the Spirit, by the work of Christ on the Cross for the glory of the Father, making the cycle complete and self-perpetuating. Therefore we must hold out the gospel in word and deed to be fully functioning Christians.

So, in summary this is a great book if you are a Christian and want to have your heart moved for the poor and needy, but I think the hole in this book is the gospel itself.

Review by / (Posted on 8/19/2010)
How does the president of a...
How does the president of a company that produces fine tableware find himself at the helm of a Christian organization dedicated to alleviating poverty and its symptoms? This is the story of Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, Inc. and the author of The Hole in Our Gospel (audiobook read by Tommy Creswell).

Stearns’ book is a detailed account of his personal journey leading to his position at the head of World Vision. While the book does trace his career path, the narrative has more to do with the change of heart that occurred over time to bring him to such a role.

The author’s compassionate heart is present in every chapter. Listening to Stearns describe the current state of poverty in our world, it is hard not to be drawn in emotionally. Perhaps this was part of his purpose in writing this book, to tug at the heart of those who might otherwise be oblivious to the living conditions that many outside of our context know as “normal”.

Because I listen to my audiobooks mostly while driving, I was able to listen to a large portion of this book during a period when I happened to be in the car a lot. One doesn’t need to listen in a single sitting (rarely do any of us have that luxury of time to spend anyway). I found that the chapter division would be good stopping points to take the book in pieces.

While I did find much of the book very interesting and engaging, I have to admit that I am somewhat distracted by the book’s title. With the subject matter of the book it could be easy to leave someone with the impression that compassion for the poor is an essential element of the gospel. A person could wonder about his status in Christ if he doesn’t share the same level of concern for the things Stearns and others do. The “hole” isn’t in our gospel, it is in our understanding of how the gospel moves us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

If in the all this book does is to poke a hole (no pun intended) in our Christian bubble so that we become more aware of the economic state of the rest of the world, then I think Stearns has done his job. The author’s argument and presentation isn’t flawless but it is still very engaging and is worth a read (or listen in my case).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from as part of their christianaudio Reviewers Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Review by / (Posted on 7/6/2010)
This book was alot to take...
This book was alot to take in. On one side, I felt a bit guilty because sometimes I am very lacking in the work Jesus has called us to do but on the other hand, this is exactly what I needed to hear. I struggle with trying to be my best for god but also struggle with doing great things for the poor. Sometimes I just throw my hands in the air and ask... what can i do for all the poor being only one person? The author opened my eyes to some situations in his own life where he felt the same. Many statistics are staggering but he shows some ways in which he personally has done what Jesus tells us to do.

After listening to the audiobook a couple times, I realize that I... like him... can make some changes and this is the theme behind this book.

By doing something small, God can use me to multiply his work and you may not ever know what that work is in your lifetime.
How many Oak trees are in an Acorn? Only God knows the answer to that question. God hundredfolds life because he knows that is what is required to survive and persevere. That is the point of the author!!!

God Bless every cell of your being that you may hundredfold!!!
Scott P
Review by / (Posted on 6/1/2010)
I listened to ‘The Hole In...
I listened to ‘The Hole In Our Gospel’ by Richard Stearns as part of reviewers program. In fact I have listened to it several times now, before writing this review. Why? Quite simply because there is so much to take in.

‘The Hole In Our Gospel’ is part-biography, part-theological work, part-social tract, and it is narrated excellently by Tommy Cresswell. Stearns switches between telling us the story of his early life, meeting his wife, becoming a Christian, becoming a top CEO, being called by God to take over the directorship of World Vision, with a biblical explanation for every Christian’s need to engage actively with those people in our world in poverty and need.

Stearns details honestly the difficulties of being an affluent Western Christian and feeling called to engage in a more committed way to the many problems our world faces today. He supports his own persuasive arguments for Christian’s becoming more socially active through many passages of scripture. He gives the listener a clear statistical barrage of facts to illustrate what and where the problems of world poverty are.

At times, perhaps, ‘The Hole In Our Gospel’ seems to struggle between Stearns’ biographical information (which is insightful – don’t get me wrong) and his deeper message of world poverty and the Christian response to it. There is a sense that there were two books here that have been blended into one, and sometimes one part gives way to the other at a point the listener would rather it didn’t.

‘The Hole In Our Gospel’ by Richard Stearns is an important book and one that Christians and non-Christians should take the opportunity to read/listen to. This book is a call to arms to combat world poverty, and after listening/reading it, you will be convinced you should be doing far more than you currently are.
Review by / (Posted on 6/1/2010)
@Paul Lytle: Shame on you for...
@Paul Lytle: Shame on you for self promotion in a review.

But, I do agree. Mostly.

This book really isn't much about Gospel, but about the living out of the Gospel. I think it a bit presumptuous for the author to assume that "we" create a hole in the Gospel...but i do agree that few Christians move past the infant stage of our Christian growth.

Accurate title I guess. It's a book about how we fall short and what we can do to do more as we are commanded.

This book isn't likely to cause a revelation in world missions, but it's not bad.
Review by / (Posted on 5/28/2010)
Scripture clearly states that the work...
Scripture clearly states that the work of God is to believe on the one whom He has sent. John 6:29. The work is finished in Christ. John 19:30. Salvation is by faith alone. Christ says if we love Him we will follow His commandments. So we do so out of love. We love only because He first loved us enough to save us from the penalty of breaking the law. The only holes in the gospel are the ones in Christs hands and feet.
Review by / (Posted on 5/19/2010)
Mr. Lytle, I may be wrong, but...
Mr. Lytle,

I may be wrong, but I think what Mr. Stearn means by the 'hole in our gospel' is this...he believes that the Gospel we share must come in two parts, both word and deed. Not that the Gospel is a work-based salvation. In other words, we are saved by grace alone, but we are saved to share this Gospel by both our deeds and our words.
It has to do with evangelism, that is an endeavor with two sides of the same coin, two sides that together addresses the whole person. One side that ministers to the persons needs such as hunger, clothing, a listening ear, in other words sharing the Love of God in deed. Which enables us or earns us the right to flip the coin to the other side and share our words. In a world that only hears our Gospel but does not see or feel it will grow weary of hearing. And those who only see or feel it miss out on hearing the sweet explanation and may fail to make the connection of our works to God. While both may work independently (they see your good works and glorify God, how can the believe if they have not heard), the Bible does not leave us room to leave either out. The Gospel that we share must be whole.

Perhaps this a debate that we will talk about "till we're blue in the face about the language and tradition that He's coming to save and meanwhile we sin just like we don't have give a s*^+ about fifty thousand people who are dying today". quotation from What Matters More - Derek Webb
Review by / (Posted on 5/15/2010)
This book is not a Christian...
This book is not a Christian book.

I hope you’ll stick with me while I try to explain that line. I love the things that this man is doing. I love that he is trying to help the poor. I love that he is trying to care for orphans. But this is not the Gospel. It’s not even a part of the Gospel that needs to be filled. The hole is the Gospel of this book is not our lack of caring for the poor, but it’s that the Gospel is completely misunderstood and missing from the book.

It’s so critical that we do not need these categories confused. Yes, we should be helping the poor. You know what? I don’t help the poor like I should. I sin toward my fellow man every day by not loving them as I should. And so does Richard Stearns. If the Good News is that I need to help other people, then that’s not good news, because I fail at it as much as I succeed. Jesus tells us, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48), and I am far from perfect.

The Gospel is not the stuff I need to do as a Christian. That’s the Law! The Law is what I need to do but fail to do. The Law tells us to be perfect. The Law convicts me as a sinner worthy of death! The Gospel is something else. Paul defines the Gospel very briefly in 1 Cor 15: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

Jesus died on the Cross in my place. When I selfishly sin in not loving others as I should, Jesus takes the punishment from me and pays it in full. In exchange, He gives me His righteousness, so that I can stand before God without condemnation, even though I deserve it!

I am a terrible wretch of a sinner, and if the Gospel is nothing more than me having to help others, then I am lost, because I fail at it. But the Gospel instead tells me that Jesus paid my price in full, and that in faith I am saved, even though I have earned death by my actions.

What Stearns described truly is a result of the Gospel. Those of us who are saved, overcome with the love of God, will turn to others in an effort to share the mercy given to us. Christians SHOULD be doing this stuff! Yes! But when Stearns tells us that the Gospel is supposed to include charity on top of faith, then that is a false gospel, and the biblical response to false gospels is clear: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8).

I have written further on the relationship between works and faith at if you are interested. Please continue to do good works in keeping with your repentance, but don’t get those two confused!
Review by / (Posted on 5/6/2010)
Thanks to reviewers programme for...
Thanks to reviewers programme for the free copy of this is an excellent audio book.
It has taken me a while to get through it as there is an awful lot to think about and digest. Its certainly not an easy listen, well not for me, as it has made me question my whole attitude to the poor and needy in the world and particularly the developing world.

I really like the personal stories about the author as I can understand where he was coming from. I particularly liked the parts when God was challenging him to take the job at World Vison USA and he really didn’t want it. He is very honest which is very refreshing and very helpful. I also like the way he has made me realise that the people living in the developing world are just like me with a personality, hope and dreams. They are not just statistics in newspapers or the internet.

It is aimed at the American Church and as I live in the UK, at times I did feel alienated by the statistics and the culture. (Perhaps there could be an notes for other countries?)

There is a lot in this audiobook and I think it is an excellent resource to help every Christian to get involved in social projects and not just expect someone else to do it. Richard Stearns is right in quoting that it’s the Church’s job to be salt and light and if we don’t it who will?
Review by / (Posted on 5/4/2010)
Thanks to reviewers programme for...
Thanks to reviewers programme for the free copy of this is an excellent audio book. It has taken me a while to get through it as there is an awful lot to think about over and digest. Its certainly not an easy listen, well not for me, as it has made me question my whole attitude to the poor and needy in the world and particularly the developing world.

I really like the personal stories about the author as I can understand where he was coming from. I particularly liked the parts when God was challenging him to take the job at World Vison USA and he really didn’t want it. He is very honest which is very refreshing and very helpful. I also like the way he has made me realise that the people living in the developing world are just like me with a personality, hope and dreams. They are not just statistics in newspapers or the internet.

It is aimed at the American Church and as I live in the UK at times I do feel alienated by the statistics and the culture. (Perhaps there could be an notes for other countries?)

There is a lot in this audiobook and I think it is an excellent resource to help every Christian to get involved in social projects and not just expect someone else to do it. Richard Stearns is right in quoting that it’s the Church’s job to be salt and light and if we don’t it who will?
Review by / (Posted on 5/4/2010)
The Hole in Our Gospel left...
The Hole in Our Gospel left me in a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand, I was thoroughly convicted by the weight of Scripture in regard to how we treat the poor. But I couldn't get over some deeply troubling theological issues in the book.

On the plus side, Stearns makes a compelling case for increased involvement, in prayer, personal interaction, and financial giving, with the impoverished of the world. Too often we harden our hearts to those in need, making up excuses for our lack of contentment with our own affluence. The book hits hard, and it should, because we in America have become arrogant, fostering a belief that we are deserving rather than privileged. I would encourage others to get this book (it's free all May, 2010) just to hopefully shake us out of our slumber.

Still, I can't recommend the book without giving a BIG warning to all who would read it. In theology, how you say something is just as important as what you say. Stearns identifies a hole, but it isn't in the gospel.

Stearns gives an accurate definition of the gospel early on, but disregards it in the rest of the book. Instead, he has taken the gospel message and added "social revolution" to it so as to make the two indistinguishable. True Christians will not remain unchanged after believing the gospel, but social revolution is not the gospel. He undermines the importance of salvation in favor of a more temporary and non-eternal truth when he says, "[S]alvation of the soul, as crucial as it may be for fullness of life both in the here and now and in eternity, does not by itself put food on the table, bring water out of the ground, or save a child from malaria."

We as Christians need to wake up to the reality of others' suffering and our blind self-centeredness. But do not distort the gospel message to do so. Paul had some harsh words about that in Galatians 1.
Review by / (Posted on 5/3/2010)
I loved this book. It...
I loved this book. It opened my eyes and my heart.
Review by / (Posted on 5/3/2010)
Review by Derek Iannelli-Smith for,...
Review by Derek Iannelli-Smith for, "The Hole In Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World" (Thomas Nelson, March 2009) by Richard Stearns

Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, previously a CEO of a kitchen ware company, takes a leap of faith and becomes a mission agency president. This provocative book challenges the reader on every page with a James 1:22 tone (be not just hearers but also doers) regarding world missions. Specifically Stearns challenges the wealthy, apathetic, excuse and irresponsible North American church to stop being so inwardly focused and be disciples of Christ with our talents, treasures, and time. Stearns accurately handles the Word of Truth through humility and his own struggles with poverty and missions while sharing his conviction and the work of God in his life as his views changed.

The first part of the book contains his story with the stories of those in poverty from all over the world. The middle is a snapshot of the world in need, statistics, and comparatives concluding with what is currently being done to address that need. In the final part, Stearns soberly, sternly, and with great insight and discernment calls us to begin taking action with the evident need in the world around us. Great scripture references, convicting quotes from all kinds of folks involved in missions and finally a humility and burden that are clearly evident fill each chapter.

I have been saying for years, “Why should we go to another country when there is poverty in my backyard?” I even went to a missions focused seminary. However over the years in ministry I have grown disheartened with the apathy, mediocrity, and selfishness I sense and have seen in the North American church when it comes to orphans, widows, sheep without a shepherd, and the harassed. This book impacted me greatly and is timely in that I just finished reading “When Helping Hurts” and this was a GREAT compliment to what God is doing in my heart regarding world missions and asset based ministry. I am thankful that is giving it away free this month.

Further I appreciated the reminder that missions is not an either/or (local or abroad) but a mindset of obedience to Christ and what He did for us. I learned also that as much as I have preached and taught about the down-trodden, harassed, and poor in the U.S. and watched people sit by for years and do nothing, I was reminded that for every person who is unwilling to participate in missions, I can find 1000s in another country who will receive it. This gave me hope in that I no longer have to be frustrated with feeling like I am talking to the deaf.

I highly recommend this book to leaders, to members, to unchurched, and to the rest who have tightly closed fists around their beautiful homes, 2 cars, medical insurance, food in the fridge, and running water who need a wakeup call to be reminded of the gospel. I was one of them
Review by / (Posted on 5/3/2010)
Richard Stearns’ "The Hole in Our...
Richard Stearns’ "The Hole in Our Gospel" is a gospel-centered rally cry that reunites in one mighty river the often separated streams of evangelism and social action. Stearns, the current CEO of Worldvision International, does a remarkable job weaving together autobiography, social science and biblical interpretation.

Worldvision describes itself as “a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Inspired by our Christian values, we are dedicated to working with the world’s most vulnerable people. We serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.” Stearns is the second man to ever head Worldvision.

His story alone is remarkable. Raised in a lower income family, he works his way into an Ivy League education and quickly moves into the business world, eventually becoming a well-paid CEO of two large companies. That is, until God calls him to give up the large paychecks and “perfect house” to lead Worldvision. Though a Christian with a long interest in missionary and humanitarian efforts, the poverty he encountered with Worldvision opened his eyes to realities most North Americans are sheltered from. His love for God and neighbor – even neighbors on the far side of the globe – motivates him to expose the daily tragedies and terrors to the rest of us. Stearns is pastoral in sharing his message but unflinching.

I had to chuckle when I heard Stearns use the phrase “social justice” because it will instantly cause some readers to put down his book in disgust. I’ve never a fan of the phrase, though I have a sense of what my well-meaning Christian brothers and sisters mean when they say it. I understand it to mean, simply, that love for neighbor includes understanding and, when necessary, changing the social structures that lead to poverty and related social ills.

But “social justice” has become a loaded term in recent months (early 2010) as the popular libertarian entertainer Glenn Beck told his minions to leave churches that use the phrase (despite the fact that his own Mormon religion uses it). Beck’s demonization of “social justice Christians” and the labeling of Stearns by some readers as “liberal” is another sad sign of how far evangelical Christians have to go in recovering the marriage of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ not only in word but also in deed. Their divorce has everything to do with a narrow understanding of the nature of politics and of the mission Christ entrusted to his disciples.

We need more evangelical voices like Richard Stearns who can speak as an insider. He isn’t asking us to exchange one gospel for another; he’s challenging us to hear and respond from the full gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, any gospel that promises to change my heart without changing my relationship to others is a holey gospel.

Review by / (Posted on 5/1/2010)
The Hole In Our Gospel is...
The Hole In Our Gospel is the detailed explanation of an idea which the Western church desperately needs to hear: ministry to the poor is missing from our presentation of the gospel. Stearns, CEO of Worldvision, begins this book with his own story before turning to the Bible's attitude to the poor. He then looks at the current state of the world before facing the American church and giving it a good telling off.

The message behind this book is a timely one. The church really does need to wake up to social action, and Stearns presents it well. At times I felt a bit uncomfortable as his presentation of social action seemed to present quite a liberal theology, but he did not hesitate to underline his deep biblical convictions, which are clearly strong.

His communication is very good, but I'd have to question one part of his language, and that's his use of the word 'mission'. It would seem to me that 'mission' for Richard Stearns means travelling abroad to provide clean water, food, housing, medical attention, jobs, and education to those that need it most. I'd rather he included all this stuff within the wider category of mission which would incorporate ministry to the poor at home as well as actually preaching the gospel of grace.

I think there would be a danger in a new or pre-believer reading this book for only one reason: the difference between being saved by good works and being saved for good works is not defined as clearly as I'd like it to be.

Overall, I must say that this book is a good one. It's theologically accurate, written well, and carries with it a big challenge. I'm not sure it's the best book out there about social action, but if you're looking for one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. The audio version I listened to was presented well and clearly, with good emotion throughout.

I got this audiobook for free as part of the reviewers programme. I'm not required to give a positive review.
Review by / (Posted on 4/20/2010)
In The Hole in Our Gospel,...
In The Hole in Our Gospel, world vision CEO Richard Stearns encourages Christians to embrace and live out a fuller understanding of the gospel that takes into account our responsibilities to the poor.

It took me a while to start liking the book. In the opening section he shares how he came to faith and to helping the poor and he argues the biblical case for why we must care for the poor. It wasn’t bad content but it stretched on a bit too long. Once the book moved into what is going wrong in the world and how Christians can make a difference the book became much more engaging. It was inspiring to read of average Christians who are making a big difference in the lives of the poor. He has a lot to say on the issue of faith verses works. I thought it was generally theologically sound and appropriately applied, although in a few spots some scriptures were maybe stretched a touch far.

I think the message of this book is one that the Christian community needs to hear. I recommend it.
Review by / (Posted on 4/19/2010)
My full review is at my...
My full review is at my blog

Short review. This is a great response to people that want to assert Evangelism only at the role of the church. The basic thesis of the book is in a quote from Stearn's former pastor. "It is not just what you believe, but what you believe enough to do that matters."

His theology is sound and he does a good job illustrating his changed in thinking through his life story. Highly recommend the book. Every Christian should read and implement this book.
Review by / (Posted on 2/3/2010)