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Primal, by Mark Batterson

Primal: A Quest For the Lost Soul of Christianity, by Mark Batterson is a paradigm shifting book. If you want to love God with a passion, you need this book on your 2010 reading list. In fact, I will go so far as to say you need to put it at the top of your 2010 reading list.

The book came to me in the mail from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. They sent it to me free of charge with the expectation that I would read it and blog about it. It arrived a week late and I opened the book with every intention of rushing through and fulfilling my obligation — but rushing wasn’t an option. Almost immediately I realized that in Primal, I had the answers I have been searching for throughout most of my faith journey.

We can all recite the Great Commandment my heart, but do we all live it? Do we even know what living the Great Commandment should look like? I’ve carried that question around inside me for years. How do I love the Lord with all of my heart, with all of my mind, with all of my soul, and with all of my strength? It is too big. It is too much. It is too consuming.

Batterson presents Primal in four Parts: The Heart of Christianity; The Soul of Christianity; The Mind of Christianity; and The Strength of Christianity. In each part he explains how he strengthened his walk with Christ in these areas, and how we can, too. Further, he explains that he believes the reason we’ve strayed from primal worship is that we’ve put too much emphasis on the Great Commission — go therefore and preach the gospel through out all the nations — and unfortunately set aside the Great Commandment in the process. Batterson puts it this way:

… we’re not great at the Great Commandment. In too many instances, we’re not even good at it. We can’t afford to be merely good at the Great Commandment. We’ve got to be great at the Great Commandment. Because really, if you think about it, the church can’t be effective at the Great Commission without understanding and living the Great Commandment. You can’t have one without the other. My love for Christ will push me to tell someone about the grace that I’ve received which will in turn open my eyes even more to the depth of my Father’s love for me as I see someone else experience heaven crashing into earth for the first time.

Batterson claims that in recapturing our primal passion for Christ the fruits of our spirits will lead us to automatically fulfill the Great Commission and it will not be a struggle to do so.  I know it sounds to simple to be true, but take a look at the accomplishments of the church Batterson leads.  Their passion for God is apparent in their ministries.

Despite being full of weighty issues, Primal was a relatively easy read.  I stopped to ponder often, but I wasn’t struggling with the words or concepts.  I was pondering what my next step would be in response to the insights I have gained.  This is a life changing book.  Patterson will take you back to the passion you felt on the first day you believed, and then he will show you how to live there.


Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. In 2008 National Community Church was recognized by by Outreach Magazine as one of the Most Innovative and Most Influential Churches in America. The NCC congregation is comprised primarily of single 20-somethings and their primary mission is sharing the gospel with emerging generations.

I offer my sincere thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for offering me a free copy of this book to review.


    1. Linda — this book is well worth your time and money. Batterson talks about the everyday challenges that face Christians and churches, and gives practical and do-able suggestions, most of which are based on changing how we think — which of course will automatically change how we behave.

      After I post my reviews I like to read what other people were thinking. I read one guy who complained that the book was a really hard read. That surprised me. I found the book an engaging and even charming read. In fact, the passage the guy quoted as being particularly difficult was one I marveled at as a writer for it’s word choice and clarity.

    1. Doug — as a rule I would agree with you. I almost skipped reviewing this book, but I am glad I didn’t. Like the pharisees, it is sometimes very easy to lose our focus on Jesus and focus instead on the “rules” of being a good Christian. This book just reminds us that Jesus was about love and compassion, not rules. You might not need the reminder, but many of us do.

  1. Well, I guarantee you that I AM going to read this book — and just from the quote you put there I can tell that I trust him — because that has been MY whole purpose since going back to church — I wanted to “tighten” my relationship with God. THAT was my purpose. And I totally agree that we WON’T be good at spreading the gospel without that tight relationship. We DO have to be passionate in order to fullfil that step! We have to LIVE our lives FOR Him… I’m ordering that one today… but I’ve been working on it for almost 3 years!
    .-= Melli´s last blog ..Dear Lord, Save Me from Myself! =-.

    1. Melli — that’s funny. As I was reading the book I was thinking about your passion for Jesus and the bright glow you usually omit because of it. I used to have that glow and somehow in the last several years it has dimmed.

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