Strobel, former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, now with Saddleback Community Church, has written a book that serves well as the unofficial evangelistic philosophy of the new paradigm churches. On the positive front one cannot help but be impressed by Strobel’s passion for the lost. With so many churches and Christians content to be self-absorbed it encourages us to read of those who make reaching the lost a priority. Inside the Mind also has many fine tips on witnessing as well as an excellent chapter on living with an unsaved mate.
The underlining philosophy and corresponding methodologies espoused in Inside the Mind are, nevertheless, flawed at their root; namely they emanate from surveys, polls, and pop-psychology rather than from Scripture. For example, Strobel contends that Unchurched Harry doesn’t often ask if Christianity is true, he is concerned about whether it works (i.e. if it will meet his felt needs) (p.56). Harry also does not want to just know something: he wants to experience it (pp.58-59). If you build your evangelistic efforts around these “facts, ” as the new paradigm churches have done, you develop a gospel of felt needs and thrills (pp. 57-59,76,114,214). That is, the gospel becomes a means of lifting up sagging self-esteem (pp.92,110), providing personal fulfillment (p.71), and offering “white-knuckle” adventure (pp.123.171). But is that the biblical gospel? Is not the gospel the good news that sinners have been provided a means of forgiveness and righteousness because of the blood of Christ? A subtle change is taking place here. The church was created to glorify God and instruct people how to please Him. In that process many of our “needs” will be met – but the purpose of the church is not to meet people’s needs.
Much more could be said at this point but we refer the reader to our article on the “Market Driven Churches. ”