Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus has been out for a few years now, and perhaps ironically, has since gained quite the following. (You can now buy the Not a Fan Student Edition, the Not a Fan: Teen Edition, or even a Not a Fan Follower’s Journal, among many other options, of which I’m sure there will be more to come.)
I was not a fan of the illustration Idleman used (a father would demand that a suitor first prove himself perfectly worthy to marry his daughter) to introduce his book and message, as I felt it presented coming to Christ in a way that added to the Gospel (the worth that makes us acceptable to become a follower of Jesus is in Jesus). And so, with this sense of concern, I went into the book.
Thankfully, Idleman does bring up the Gospel into our inability to be true followers of Christ, though this theme is still somewhat lacking throughout the book. At the same time, he highlights some very important concerns for those who claim to be Christ’s followers, but who are really nothing more than wannabe fans. He challenges many of the religious constructs of our day, something which requires a notable amount of boldness. Yet, at other points, I was surprised by the ways in which he paints actions, groups, and supposed Christ-following with broad brush strokes, both positively and negatively.
To someone who has not grown up in Christian circles or who has not spent considerable time growing to know the American Evangelical culture, I think this book could potentially be confusing, perhaps even harmful. Yet, written to the audience of the those who consider themselves “Christians for life,” there is much helpful material.
While I believe many of these challenges are needed among today’s church, I felt like Idleman left behind an opportunity to highlight that our sanctification, growth, and passion are a gift of the Spirit working in us more than they are our own work or “trying harder.”