Joshua Harris wants you to “discover your place in the family of God.” Previously published as “Stop Dating the Church!” this book discusses why committing to a local church is important, giving Biblical scripture as support. He looks at the misconceptions people have about church and even discusses the idea of people having been “hurt” by the church. Why are there so many denominations? Why don’t church members act like true Christians? What is the true role of the church? Harris then explains what it looks like to be committed to a local church, elaborating on each of the following:
1. You join.
2. You make the local church a priority.
3. You try to make the pastor’s job a joy.
4. You find ways to serve.
5. You give.
6. You connect with people.
7. You share your passion.
We’re then told what to look for in a church. Harris again elaborates on each of the following:
1. Is this a church where God’s Word is faithfully taught?
2. Is this a church where sound doctrine matters?
3. Is this a church in which the gospel is cherished and clearly proclaimed?
4. Is this a church committed to reaching non-Christians with the gospel?
5. Is this a church whose leaders are characterized by humility and integrity?
6. Is this a church where people strive to live by God’s Word?
7. Is this a church where I can find and cultivate godly relationships?
8. Is this a church where members are challenged to serve?
9. Is this a church that is willing to kick me out?
10. Is this a church I’m willing to join “as is” with enthusiasm and faith in God?
Harris reminds us that no church is perfect, and no church will fully fulfill all of these criteria, but we should find the local church that best meets these standards and become committed to it.
The only part of the book that threw me is that Harris often discusses a church willing to throw out members who didn’t live a Christian life. Being in the first half of the book, it may very likely cause many to close the book. I always thought that a church should be accepting of anyone who wanted to honestly hear the Word of God. Not condoning ungodly lifestyles, mind you, but accepting the person in spite of their sin. How can a person hear God’s Word if he’s kicked out of the place God’s Word is preached? Harris even goes so far as to quote a preacher who says, “If you are not a member of the church you regularly attend, you may well be going to hell.” He does go on to say that it is not, of course, your church attendance that saves you, but that your “local church is there to verify or falsify our claims to be Christians.” It is not until 40 pages latter, in his explanation of question 9 above, that Harris explains this further, and it seems a bit more reasonable with regard to protecting the integrity of the church and it’s message. He also elaborates on confronting someone who is living as an unrepentant sinner, claiming to be a Christian. He says, “I gain a wonderful sense of protection in knowing that if I committed a scandalous sin and showed no repentance, my church wouldn’t put up with it. They would plead with me to change. They would patiently confront me with God’s Word. And eventually, if I refused to change, they would lovingly kick me out.” I understand that book has a certain flow to it, but I think when you raise an issue like this in the first 50 pages of a book, you should follow up with a detailed explanation in the next 2 or 3… not 40 pages later. It could leave a reader with a wrong impression. Other than this issue, I enjoyed the book.
1) Is it understandable? = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 4
3) Accuracy = removed from average
4) Quality of Writing = 4
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4
Average of score 4.25
Overall grade = B
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Multnomah.
This was book 29 in my 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge.