Book Review: The Hole in Our Gospel

I just finished reading The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns and I wanted to share my thoughts. It’s a book that has been on my reading list for a while now, and I’m glad I finally got the chance to read through it while on vacation last week.  This is a book that will challenge you in compassion. Are we really doing enough to combat the problems around the world? Do we understand the Gospel and the implications of the Gospel? Can we really make a difference? What does God expect of us? Again, this book will definitely make you think.

I love reading biographies, and this book can be considered part autobiography and part challenge.  It’s the story of Richard Stearns, the current president of World Vision. To me, the most enjoyable part of reading this book was learning about his journey to his current position and calling. It always amazes me to see how God orchestrates the details of our lives and this book reinforces the fact that nothing happens by coincidence.

The idea and purpose behind the book is stated clearly in the opening on page 2.

The idea behind The Hole in Our Gospel is quite simple. It’s basically the belief that being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world.

You can’t argue with the fact that the American church needs to do more to fight global disease and poverty, and this book makes a clear call to get involved and make a difference. It is compelling and powerful. For me personally, it really opened my eyes to the causes and consequences of poverty, hunger, and disease. But I also struggled with parts of the book, continue reading to find out why.

I struggle with writing this, but I had mixed feelings about this book. With the title focusing on what is missing from the Gospel, I expected more of a theological focus to the book. I was hoping for a strong and clear explanation of the Gospel. Instead I found the Gospel confused with the implications of the Gospel throughout the book. I’m afraid that someone could read this book and not have a clear picture if what it means to be saved. While no one would dispute that we have a responsibility to minister to the least of these in our world today, we must be crystal clear about the Gospel message. The book bases the definition and description of the Gospel on Luke 4:14-21, but the book largely ignores other strong Gospel passages. I’m afraid that in addressing and focusing on the missing pieces of the Gospel, he ends up presenting a distorted image instead of the complete picture.

I enjoyed the book, so don’t misunderstand what I am saying, but this book left me wanting more clarity. It will motivate you and create a passion in you to reach out to those in need, and I am thankful for that, but we serve not because of statistics or guilt, but because we are compelled by the love of Christ.

In summary, this is a great story of how God had brought one man on an incredible journey of faith from the corporate world to the president of a powerful ministry. I also feel that this book gave me hope, that I can make a difference. After sharing about the worldwide problems of poverty, hunger, and disease, he encourages all of us to hold on to three ideals.

  • Every one of these hurting people is created in God’s image and loved by Him.
  • Every one of these challenges has a solution
  • Every one of us can make a difference.

After reading this book, I think we can make a difference. And the American church must rise up and make a difference. I’m in, are you?

Full Disclosure: I received this book as part of the BookSneeze Blogger Review Program. You can read more about my reviews here.


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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1 Response

  1. The expression “it takes a village” is accurate when it comes to people coming together to make an impact on global disease and poverty. I agree wholeheartedly with your last statement that every one of us can make a difference.

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