Read This Christian Book with the Pastor Who Wrote It

reading a bookA few months ago, I read Radically Normal by Josh Kelley, right after I read Radical by David Platt. The two books presented very different perspectives on a similar issue: how do we live out the gospel and devote our lives to Christ in this modern world? What does it look like to be “all in”? Platt advocated for radical abandonment of the American lifestyle and finding our place within the global mission of Christianity. Kelley suggested that a radical devotion to Christianity could be just as dangerous to the Christian as living a life of complacency, and urged that we invite God into every aspect of our life instead.

As a reader, the relationship between these two books was fascinating. I don’t normally reach out to authors, but at the end of Radically Normal, Josh’s invitation to continue the conversation seemed genuine, so I figured, “Why not?” and tweeted him. He responded right away, and we had a great conversation about his book over email (and eventually in an interview on Faithlife Today).

Josh Kelley with daughterRadically Normal is too close to Josh’s heart for him to not be invested in what you think as a reader. The book shares what his family has shown him about enjoying life’s pleasures as a child of the creator. He discusses what he learned when he took a second job at Starbucks and became a bivocational pastor during one of the busiest, most stressful times of his life. Most importantly, he casts his vision for modern Christians called to live in this world but not of it. As a pastor, Josh wants to stir up meaningful conversations—and participate in them.

That’s why Josh is inviting you to join his Faithlife Group for Radically Normal. Once you get the book, you can ask Josh questions directly within the book using Community Notes, or you can start a discussion with Josh and other readers.

Josh has included two suggested reading plans to help you get started (note: you can’t join the reading plan until you own the book), as well as a small group planning guide and small group discussion questions—you can find it all in the documents tab.

Grab your copy of Radically Normal today, and start a conversation in the Faithlife Group.


  1. Galen says

    Aren’t we supposed to be fully devoted to Jesus Christ, not to Christianity? Are they necessarily the same thing? If I am radically devoted to Christianity then am I not pursuing the affections of a religious institution? What does that kind of devotion intimate about where my heart may lie? What does Jesus say about this? What was His example?

  2. says

    Thanks for asking for the clarification, Galen. I think that is what Ryan (and I meant). In fact, what he wrote was that “a radical devotion to Christianity could be just as dangerous…” In other words, it’s dangerous to work really hard at looking like a good Christian.

    • Galen says

      I totally agree, Josh. It just seems too difficult to sum a book up in one phrase! I am not trying to defend Mr Platt or his book. In fact, I’ve long desired to read Radical, but for one reason or another have not. So it is in complete ignorance that I ask if you think Mr Platt would agree to the assertion Radical exhorts people to religiosity (a devotion to Christianity)? Thank you so much for this dialogue, Josh!

  3. says

    Ryan, thank you for the article. It is interesting that Josh takes this position. I would like to read it and buy the book. At this point though I would ask a few questions. Does the great need of the billion people in the world who will live and die and never hear about Christ demand action? Is obedience to take to gospel to the ends of the earth not a cause we should rally for? Thanks.

  4. Rich says

    A personal observation about the book “Radical”. As a pastor who does not agree with all of David Platt’s theological views, I still found the book so valuable that we used it in our small groups. In addition, we keep copies of the book handy to give to people who are expressing a desire to serve Christ more fully. The positive affect (fruit) in those we have recommended/given “Radical” to cannot be overstated. It is important to note that we already place great emphasis on Christianity being a deep, personal, and growing relationship with Jesus Christ (John 17:3, to “know” Him). Our “radical lifestyles” result from, and should reflect, a “radical love” for our Savior. When the world sees this “radical lifestyle based on love” they will want to “Know what (Who) we have”. In love and joy we invite them to know the One who died and rose to free us from the law and sin and death and give us this incredible abundant life. Full of Joy, Rich!!

  5. Ronald Burras says

    I remember an old Hanna-Barbara cartoon(Quick Draw McGraw?) in which characters found themselves in a room where the furniture–for reasons I don’t remember–had been nailed to the ceiling. These characters tried and tried to jump back to the floor to resume what they mistakenly assumed was their “normal” place in the room, but of course they failed because their perception was not based on any sort of reality. The main value–and it is a great one–of Josh Kelley’s “Radically Normal” is his examination of the destructively false expectations that many of us have had about our Christian lives, and his liberating conclusion hat the lives we already have (i.e., husband, wife, parent, employee) are where God wants to meet us and give us his grace. This is not really anything new, but what makes this book really special are the many analogies and illustrations, most drawn from his own experience, that Kelley uses with great effectiveness. This is a very encouraging read for sincere but exhausted Christians whose countless attempts to attain to “The Higher Life” have been meet with constant failure. Highly recommended.

  6. says

    Thanks for the comment, Nicholas. I think Josh Kelley would agree that yes, of course, as Christians we need to reach the world. This book in no way detracts from the significance of missionary work. It does, however, call attention to the fact that we often elevate the work of foreign missionaries above the work of missionaries in our own backyard. Hopefully, we all have people in our lives that don't know Jesus. We are all called to follow Jesus and enter into relationships with people who don't know Jesus. If a Christian doesn't have non-Christians in their life, they are probably in danger of embracing a complacent, inactive Christianity.

    I think the issue in pointing to our calling to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth is that we are all somewhere in the world where people need to hear the gospel right now. If I leave the non-Christians in my life right now to go find non-Christians somewhere else, am I counting on another Christian from somewhere else to land in the place I left? When Jesus called his 72 and told them to go to the ends of the earth, he sent them out to the 72 known nations of the world which God disinherited at the Tower of Babel. While their mission was global, they had specific destinations. If the Spirit leads someone to another part of the world, that's great! But we shouldn't leave for the sake of leaving. Loving the neighbor in your school, your neighborhood, or your workplace is no less important than loving your neighbors across the world.

    Maybe Josh would answer differently, but I hope you'll read the book and see what he has to say.

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