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Jesus calls his disciples to radical obedience: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24).  Christians often quote this verse without fully recognizing the radical nature of its claim. Even before Jesus had gone to his cross, he used the Roman torture instrument as an analogy for the cost of following him.

One church in Birmingham, Alabama, appears to be taking Jesus at his word. The Church at Brook Hills is currently engaged in a year-long ministry initiative that they are calling the “Radical Experiment.” Under the leadership of pastor David Platt, the church is committing to several sacrificial goals in 2010 for the sake of the gospel:

  1. To pray for the entire world
  2. To read through the entire Word
  3. To commit our lives to multiplying community
  4. To sacrifice our money for a specific purpose
  5. To give our time in another context

More than simply vague promises, these goals also include specific directives. For example, the families and individuals in the church are committing to spend at least one week of their year in a ministry context outside of Birmingham. In addition to these individual goals, the church has also drastically reshaped its spending practices to reflect its commitment to gospel ministry. Rather than spending its resources selfishly, the church has made the physical and spiritual needs of the world its top priority. Here’s how Platt summarizes the rationale behind the Radical Experiment:

Over 26,000 children die every day of starvation or preventable diseases. You realize that that is the equivalent of 100 planes filled with children falling from the sky and crashing every single day. . . . We must do something about it.  Faith in us compels us to.  So the challenge is, for one year as a church, to go through our spending and to ask of every single line item in our budget, ‘Is it more important to spend this money than it is to feed a starving child?’

You can watch David Platt’s passionate plea for the Radical Experiment here.  You can listen to more of his sermons here.