Mark Batterson loves Jesus.  I’ve now read two of his books, Wild Goose Chase and Primal, and the portrait I get of him is a high energy (possibly over-caffeinated, he started a coffee shop) Jesus junky.  He comes across as an adventurer in pursuit of new ways to articulate God’s love. And the good news is, it’s pretty contagious.

I found myself constantly thinking up new ideas of how to share my faith, serve other people, or structure our church so as to more effectively share of the love of God in Christ.  Reading Primal doesn’t present ground-breaking new insights of interpretation, but it does provide a challenge to apathetic American Christians to take risks and do something wild for God.  Batterson challenges the reader to put aside the religiosity that consumes so much of the church and instead get back to the basics, the primal things, of following Christ.

I’ve discovered that when I’ve lost my way spiritually, the way forward is often backward…going back to that most primal place helps us find our way forward… pg. 8

My prayer is that this book will take you down two thousand stairs back to that primal place — the place where loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all that matters. (pg. 11)

Using the framework of our Primal call to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength, Batterson explores what that looks like for us today.  He does a good job of contextualizing each of these aspects of loving God into contemporary life.  He pushes hard on the core essence of the faith as rooted in this ancient commandment (the Great Commandment) to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, but he also emphasizes the need for creativity and relevance.

I have a conviction that gets me up early and keeps me up late: there are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet.  If we keep trying to meet new challenges with tired old ideas, I’m afraid we’ll fade into irrelevant oblivion.  What we need is the freedom to experiment.  We need to dream God-sized dreams and take God-sized risks.  We need to dare to be different. (pg. 114)

He dreams of the church becoming ancient by doing things in new ways.  This book is his rallying cry.  It’s a challenge to Christians everywhere to participate in the next reformation of re-articulation.  It’s his motivational message to get off our couches and do something new and exciting for God.

This book is an invitation to be part of something that is bigger than you, more important than you, and longer lasting than you.  It’s an invitation to be part of the next reformation.  It’s an invitation to be part of a primal movement that traces its origins all the way back to ancient catacombs where our spiritual ancestors were martyred because they loved God more than they loved life.

Instead of a reformation lead by one person though, Batterson hopes that the reformation of our age will come by thousands, even millions, of Christians becoming serious about loving God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.  He believes that will be expressed by us living lives of compassion (heart), wonder (soul), curiosity (mind), and energy (strength).

This is a good book.  It’s a motivational book.  Batterson writes well, and he seems full of stories, analogies, and medical metaphors aimed at articulating the faith in contemporary language.  His creativity spurred new thoughts in me, and I believe it would do the same for others.  If you’re looking for a book to challenge and inspire you to live your faith more fully, you’ll find this to be a helpful and encouraging book.  If you want a book to stimulate new thoughts for a new year, this might be a great book to help you dream up some risky New Year’s resolutions!

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book for free as a part of their blog tour launch of Primal.  Despite receiving this book for free, I’ve reviewed it honestly, and I’m happy to recommend it.