Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 12/07/2010 by Leslie Wiggins.
Recommended. A tale of disgruntled Christians who grow to love Christ's Church all the more.
You've heard the joke about the couple looking for a church to join, haven't you? After visiting several, someone says, "You'll never find the perfect church. Once you join, it won't be perfect anymore." We all laugh at ourselves over that because we know we aren't perfect. But, the truth is, we want the other people in the church to behave perfectly. Oftentimes, even following a slight misunderstanding, church members want to pack up their toys and go find another group with which to play church.
One popular trend, showcased in George Barna's book, Revolution, says that today's professing Christians design their own kind of Christianity, one without the church. If Barna's statistics are to be believed, then "by the year 2025, the spiritual profile of [America] will be dramatically different...[O]nly one third of the population will rely upon a local congregation as the primary or exclusive means for experiencing and expressing their faith." If true, then this generation of believers is critical for the health of the future church in America.
John Crotts' purpose for writing Loving the Church is "to help you see how glorious God's family really is, and then to see the countless ways you and your family can flourish in it." Loving the Church is organized into two sections that answer two main questions: 1) "What Is God’s Family?", and 2) "How You Fit into God's Family."
A biblical understanding of the church as God intended is crucial to experiencing and living our lives within his perfect design and purpose. To showcase these truths, Crotts frames them in a Bible study that takes place among six friends in America's current favorite meeting place: a coffee shop. The reader will join John, Kevin, Michelle, Mike, Rachael, and Rick as they meet weekly to discover what the Bible says about the church. Though the dialogue feels a little forced at points, I could relate to one or two characters and/or knew someone in my life who could. Their reasons for leaving their church are probably quite common: needing to spend more time with family, too busy doing ministry outside the church, feeling judgment from other believers, a busy college life, needing to build relationships with people in one's age group, needing a family-oriented church.
The presentation is light and informal; Crotts provides a helpful overview of what the church is, the purpose of the church (for God, for individuals and families), what it means to be a member of the church, a member's relationship with the elders and deacons, the believer's role in serving the church with the gifts of the Spirit, and how each member is to contribute to the spiritual growth and encouragement of the others. In the end, the example our fictional characters set for exhibiting joy in studying God's word and their submission to that word is worthy of imitation.
In conclusion, Crotts writes, "Forsaking the church is a serious matter. The implications are far more serious than many people first realize. The good news is, however, that Jesus died for church forsakers." That good news of God's grace ought to motivate us to be a part of a church that will encourage us to share that news with others and help establish other churches. God loves His Church! And as His children we ought to be loving her, too. This little book will help set readers on the path to doing that.