When living what you believe to be a good Christian life still leaves you feeling empty, you might begin to wonder: Do I really know what it means to follow Christ? It’s a question Rob Peabody, author of Citizen: Your Role in the Alternative Kingdom (Monarch Books/July 29, 2014/ISBN: 978-0857215420/$14.99), asked himself at the age of 26, shortly after landing his dream job as the lead campus pastor of a burgeoning new campus of a Texas mega-church. “The church exploded with excitement. People were being baptized and saved, and true growth was occurring,” Peabody says. “It was all going to plan . . . and then it hit me. I couldn’t go on this way any longer.”
Peabody realized his faith had little connection with the world around him. He had inherited a westernized view of Christianity that too often glorifies personal success, comfort and individualism to the detriment of the lifestyle to which Jesus calls his followers. He realized Jesus was calling him — and all of us — to an all-or-nothing lifestyle, not a pick-and-choose faith salad bar. Something had to change.
He began by redirecting his church toward the poor on their doorstep. “Jesus did not just save us from something (hell and eternal separation from Him), but He saved us for something.” Peabody explains. The church adopted local schools and created mentoring programs to teach the less-fortunate important life skills. In Citizen, Peabody defines the kingdom-centered identity given to followers of Jesus and uses his personal story to reveal fundamental problems in the Christian culture. He shows how each problem — the model of competition, the idol of the autonomous self, the desire to create God in our own image and conflicting allegiances — can be resolved by appealing to our loyalties and duties as citizens of God’s kingdom.
Citizen is also a wake-up call to the church in the West. Peabody’s spiritual journey has now taken him from America’s Bible belt to the United Kingdom, where he is dedicated to reaching the young adults walking London’s streets. Only 2% of the city’s residents identify as evangelicals, giving Peabody a unique view of life as a Christian in the U.S. “When you live in a city as a part of the tiny religious minority, your faith either falls away or becomes very real,” Peabody reveals. “I think the church in America could use some of this shock to wake them up from operating as ‘business as usual’ before it is too late.”
In Citizen, readers will learn salvation is so much more than just a get-out-of-jail-free card; it’s an invitation to change the way they live completely and transform a culture in the process.
About the Author:
Rob Peabody left his position as lead campus pastor of a mega-church in Texas in 2011 and moved with his wife, Medea, and their two sons to the U.K. He is now the co-founder and director of Awaken, a non-profit organization that exists to provide resources and creativity to the church and reach Londoners in their 20s and 30s with the Gospel. This work is commissioned by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and in partnership with the Church of England. Peabody also currently serves as a missional consultant for multiple church networks. He appears regularly at the Spring Harvest conferences in Great Britain and will be leading a new upcoming national U.K. conference for young adults called The Pursuit. In addition, Peabody has written a small-group film series entitled Kingdom Rise, which was released in March of 2013.