“Why church matters” by Joshua Harris is a 140 page book made up of 7 chapters addressing the issue of the local church and why becoming a passionate, committed, member of the local body is important.
In chapter 1 the author speaks about his past experiences going to church and how he felt about it at one time. He also begins to discuss what the rest of the book will be about and uses the idea of a relationship to relate how many people flirt with the church but are not committed or passionate about the local church. He speaks about people dating the church and encourages people instead to “marry the church”.
In chapter 2 he relates how he felt at his own weeding and how he feels about his bride walking down the aisle and then relates that to how Christ feels about his bride, the church. He also states the goal of the book on page 21 where he says “My goal in this book is to help you get connected and committed to a solid local church.”
He also makes some comments on denominations and how different denominations can be “united” by holding to the major things (doctrines) that really matter and having an attitude of grace on those things that don’t matter but of course there are different denominations because they don’t see things the same and/or hold certain doctrines to be essential while others see them as secondary and nonessential. The good news here is he doesn’t really get too involved with this and so we can simply read through this section without paying too much attention to it.
I do like what he says on page 30 concerning the love Jesus has for the church. He says “If Jesus loves the church, you and I should, too.” I agree and there is way too much church bashing going on by those in the church. Really good point, I though.
In chapter 3 he discuss the attitude many have today about going to a local church. Many people feel that they can be Christians and worship God on their own and never be part of a local body. It’s as if they think the local church was invented by men and not a God ordained institution. The author shows that this is simply wrong and unbiblical. On page 40 he says this “The longer I’m a Christian the more aware I become that I cannot live the Christian life on my own.”
In chapter 4 he deals with passion and commitment and tells the story of a man he knows who is a Christian but this man loves his Jeep and even joined a “Jeep club”. He tells how this man spent all his time thinking about and doing things with his Jeep and the Jeep club. The author points out that the things we talk about and are consumed with are the things we have passion for and are committed to. He urges us to have passion and commitment for the local church and then goes on to give suggestions on how to cultivate this.
Chapter 5 is all about what to look for in a local church. For example he says to seek out a church “…where God’s word is faithfully taught…” and another question to ask is “Is this a church that is willing to kick me out?” and of course that question has to do with leadership holding people accountable and not allowing open sin to go unchecked.
Chapter 6 was an interesting chapter dealing with how to make Sunday the best day of the week. On page 94 he says “My premise in this chapter is that you and I are very likely to be missing out on God’s best for the day (Sunday) unless we learn to build our week around Sunday, and not the other way around.”He goes on to suggest some ways in which we might prepare to worship and enjoy Sunday. One suggestion he gives is to turn the TV off on Saturday night and to read the scriptures and pray so we prepare our hearts and our minds for the following day. I liked this suggestion and will give serious consideration to it.
Chapter 7 is simply the concluding thoughts of the author and his wrapping up the book.
In the end I enjoyed reading this book. It’s small and easy to read. I spent one afternoon reading it. There are some issues related to worship and doctrine that I didn’t agree with or that weren’t given a very full discussion but this isn’t a book that is really dealing with those subjects so I found it easy to read through and not get bogged down with those issues. He simply doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about those other things.
So, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who has had a bad experience with a local church and now doesn’t attend or to the person who simply thinks they don’t need the local church and can go it alone. I also think that anyone who is already attending a local church can gain some wonderful insights or maybe a renewed respect and appreciation for the local church.
A great book reminding us “why church matters”.
Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 2 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
I wanted to give a note of explanation as I begin this review. The church, small “c,” is used to speak of the local church. The Church, big “c,” indicates the Christian family as a whole both living and those who came before us ever since the start of the Church 2,000 years ago.
Many may know this author from his more famous work, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Essentially, the principle is similar but applied to the Church. Joshua Harris was a church shopper/church hopper himself. However, he came to the point where he felt that he needed to stop consuming and begin committing to the Church. Not to do so would be missing out on God’s program through the Church to fulfill the Great Commission.
In this book, he identifies church as many of us have come to know it. He then explains the biblical nature of the Church and the word pictures that the Bible uses to describe it. With metaphors such as the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ and a Temple, the Word of God is pointing at something greater going on than most people realize and have personally experienced.
Each of us has passion for various things and Harris urges a passion for the Church, both the big and little "c." The lifestyle of the Christian should be such that we prepare for Sunday, invest in our churches passionately and in a variety of ways and that we live out what we have heard and believe. All of this is crucial as it is our time to carry forth the Gospel to a new generation even as it has been brought to us and God’s chosen vehicle then and now is the local church. Harris helps the reader to think about what is important in looking for a church. Just like in choosing a marriage partner, there are certain qualities or preferences that can be jettisoned for the more important elements. For those who don’t have a church near them with all of those qualities, Harris gives some advice that may seem surprising but doesn’t leave the person off the hook in going deep with a local church family.
This book is a good one. It is practical, easy to read with lots of great quotes from a spectrum of Church leaders both present and past. I would encourage anyone who has struggled with church attendance or moving beyond showing up on Sunday morning to real commitment to read this work.
As Joshua Harris points out in his quick read, "Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God", many people in our culture have begun to shy away from the traditional church. I see this more and more in our world, especially as people are hurt by the church or see negative stories about the church in the news. The concept that “I can believe in Jesus and do just fine on my own without going to church” is a growing one. I was intrigued by this book because I work with high school and young adults everyday and see that attitude often. I was hoping this might be a resource worth sharing with some of them who question the value of church involvement or a way to encourage those going off to college to find a community in which they can connect.
While Harris does a great job of outlining reasons (supported with Scripture) for which being a member of a local church, as well as the worldwide Church, is important, I wonder if the people who need to read this book would make it past the first chapter. He starts off sharing a story of a relationship between “Jack and Grace” where Grace wants Jack to “define the relationship” and Jack just isn’t ready. Harris goes on to compare people who think they can grow in their faith outside the church to Jack saying they’re just “church-daters” afraid to commit. While the shock tactic may work for some, it seems as if the way in which the first chapter is laid out may cause people to just stop reading. Instead of listing benefits of being in a community of faith, he says that when we resist a relationship with the church “everyone gets cheated out of God’s best. You cheat yourself. You cheat a church community. You cheat your world.” (pg 8). While this is true, I’m guessing people would likely feel judged, rather than listened to, after reading this.
With that said, I do think the book had a lot of great points and I hope truly that people would keep reading. It presented a very Scriptural and helpful picture of the functions of the church and why it is beneficial and even fun to be a part of a local congregation as well as the greater Church as a whole. For those who may have been hurt by the church or see negative media about church, Chapter 2 provided a great reminder of the church as the bride of Christ and though we may look around and see an ugly, persecuted, stained, and corrupt bride, Jesus still calls us his bride and is constantly at work making us beautiful (Ephesians 5:25-32).
Chapter 3 finally gets into the actual benefits of being connected with a local church and reasons with those who believe church is just a “formality” or that they can “just listen online” and it’s the same thing. I appreciate that many of the reasons people give for not going to church are countered in this chapter (in a slightly less abrupt way that the first chapter) and based in Scripture.
It’s one thing to logically believe that church is important, but as I interact with friends who have been hurt by local congregations again and again, it is very difficult for them to invest in yet another community despite knowing they need it. When I received this book to review, I hoped that Harris would address this and was excited to see that it seemed he would at the end of Chapter 3. I found myself very disappointed when the only “hope” given was basically in telling readers that if they’re struggling with that, it’s just because they’re too focused on themselves and they need to get over their pride and see that the church needs them just as much as they need the church. Again, there is truth in what Harris says, that if we’re only focused on what the church can do for us, we’ll likely never be satisfied; but it doesn’t seem to be of much help to those who truly have been hurt by churches.
My favorite part of the book was chapter 5 which outlined questions to ask yourself when looking for a congregation in which you can invest. This great list is a necessity to anyone exploring church options in order to find one that “teaches…values… and lives God’s Word.” It also reminds people that they’ll never find the “perfect” church, but to seek one growing in the right ways and living in line with God’s Word.
Chapter 6 was a great wrap up and it was hard for me not to label this my favorite instead of chapter 5. This would be a great chapter for any Christian church-goer to read and be reminded what Sunday is all about. Harris describes how many of us can likely relate to Sundays when we have, “woken up late, walked into church groggy, worshiped distractedly, listened occasionally, left, early, and remembered very little.” (page 92) Instead, Harris challenges us, and explains how to create a “game plan” to experience God and worship him more fully each week which includes tips for preparing before hand, listening well during the service, and applying to your life after you leave.
Despite the good and the bad of this book, I loved the way Harris ended it with this call from Scripture: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the LORD!’” (Psalm 122:1). May we all joyously find ways to connect with and serve through the Family of God to accomplish God’s goal of bringing all to saving faith in Him!
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.”
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Review 4 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
This small book is a very important book. It just might need to become the one small book you hand to anyone or any family who walks into your church and says, "I'm looking for a church home." It needs to be the one book you hand to someone who says "I don't really need to belong to a church; I can just show up when I can."
Joshua Harris writes in a homely and winsome style. As you're reading, you think to yourself, "This is good stuff. Why haven't I heard this before?" You probably have; you just may have not heard it put so simply, so plainly, so understandably clear that all can receive it. This is a really good trait for a book (I know, that seems like an understatement, but if no one understands what you're saying, no one's going to read it). This is a really good trait for a book like this one.
I can't tell you how much energy I've poured into talking to people about joining our church. I have some who refuse to become members because we, as the leaders, should just know that they're committed to being here. Others have been convinced by the absence of the word "membership" in the Bible that we don't need to have it in the church. Still others (and many of these are pastors I know) believe that church membership is old and out-dated and it's what keeps people from coming to a church, let alone joining that church. Harris writes with conviction, not just in his own heart, but with the conviction that you need to have implanted in your own heart about belonging to a church. For such a short book, it packs quite a wallop!
Harris begins by talking about the church: what we miss out on by just hanging around instead of becoming a part of her; seeing the church from Jesus' perspective––the Bride He died to redeem; and then he wraps up his opening salvos by helping the reader to see how belonging to a local church serves the global church, not the other way around.
From there, the author gives many a practical, hands-on set of points to use in re-thinking what membership in a church should be about. Chapter 5, "Choosing Your Church: The Ten Things That Matter Most" is a wonderfully laid out piece that states it very succinctly––here's how you should find the church you're going to join (he states that as an expectation, not a groundless hope)
In Chapter 6, Harris does what I think needs to be done at least once a year, if not more often: remind people that they are the ones who "make or break" the church. Do you find church boring? It's most likely because you're putting nothing into it. Do you find it hard to stay awake during the sermons? Ask yourself what time you went to bed the night before. You think your church lacks passion? Where have you been placing the focus of your heart lately? These are great questions that every person going to church should ask, as well as lay out a path of implementation to put their all into their local church. After all, Jesus did, didn't He?
With the included study guide questions in the back of this edition, one could use this easily for a membership class in the church.
I highly recommend this book.
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Review 5 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
Joshua Harris never disappoints but I do not think this was one of his best works. I agree with everything he wrote, but there wasn't any critical thought/provoking mind blowing material. I would suggest this book for Senior High students who may go to church on Christmas and Easter, and for people who don't understand the significance/ meaning of church. As Harris writes;the fellowship is why we do it, not to glorify religion or a particular building. Only to glorify the risen KING!
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Review 6 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
Some of the biggest bashers of the church are church leaders who set themselves up as the culturally cool, spiritual hipsters of our day. They take sport in constantly haranguing the church for its faults without realizing who they are really throwing rocks at.
Who would that be?
The "bride of Christ."
That's one description scripture gives of what the church really is, and the further we delve into the Bible to study the church, we learn that the church matters --- dramatically so! --- to Jesus, and so it should also to those who identify themselves as Christ's followers.
"Why Church Matters," written by Joshua Harris and published by Multnomah Books, is a basic, biblically solid, unimposing but direct look at why church really does matter to Christians and to the world, and how it is far more than what many today make it out to be.
In just 119 pages, Harris unfolds in his easy-to-read style plain biblical truths about the church, starting by getting our attention with highlighting the value God Himself places on the church. Harris writes, "The preacher taught from the book of Ephesians. He showed that the church was actually God's idea --- not some plan or program invented by humans. In fact, the church is the only institution God promised to sustain forever."
Harris does more than expound on a theological defense for the church, but walks the reader through why being a connected part of the church matters to every believer, how to look for a church, and how to re-value gathering as the church every Sunday.
This is a good read for those who want a refresher in why church really does matter; for new believers who are learning what the church is all about; and for those who have strayed from a biblical view of the church. "Why Church Matters" could also be used as a good tool for a small group study about the church, and the book includes a four-week discussion guide.
With the start of a new year, I encourage Christians to pick up this quick read and start out 2012 with a fresh insight into why the church matters to God, and why (and how) it should matter to us.
I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 7 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
Why Church Matters: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
You can read plenty of reviews that give you the overview/content of the book. Here is just the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good: 1. It’s short. Not a bunch of fluff, Joshua Harris hits home. 2. Joshua is engaging, including fun-to-read “I’ve been there” illustrations and stories. 3. Wonderful quotes! I especially liked this one by John Stott, “If the church is central to God’s purpose as seen in both history and the gospel, it must surely also be central to our lives. How can we take lightly what God takes so seriously? How dare we push to the circumference what God has placed at the center?” 4. Great Biblical support which, when combined with Joshua’s illustrations, made it convicting without being preachy. 5. The 10-things that matter most when choosing a church was a great addition, as are the study chapters at the end.
The Bad: 1. Joshua Harris missed some great opportunities to dig deeper into the reasons why we don’t want to go to church. He mentions church splits, conflict, irrelevancy, but doesn’t go deeper into these issues. I know it’s a short book, but without answers to these questions it came out as a bit too short to me. With WHY in the title, I was left wondering, when thinking about church grief, “Why?” 2. In the chapter on membership, I was left with the same thoughts. It was helpful, but without mention of membership in the Bible, “Why join?”
The Ugly: The title, "Why Church Matters" is in a gigantic maybe 30 sized font. Joshua’s name looks like a big 25. The subtitle maybe 20. “Best-selling author of Dug Down Deep” perhaps a size16. “Previously released as Stop Dating the Church," mercy, it looks like a size 2 - it’s microscopic. I hate it when they sneak an old book on me as a new one.
I absolutely recommend this book if you are wondering, as a Christian, why you should go to church. That is unless, of course, you have already read it under the old title.
I received this book free from Multnomah Books for review. I was (obviously) not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. danielcooley.com
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Review 8 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
I have read many books on the church and none has had the effect on me like Joshua Harris’ book Why Church Matters (previously released as Stop Dating the Church). It is clear from the first page to the last that Harris loves God’s church and wants to instill in the reader the same passion he has for the church. It is a complete success.
The opening chapter deals with the idea that we don’t need the church to be a Christian. Obviously we are not saved by going to church but the saved should desire, even long, to worship with other blood-bought believers. We need to fellowship with them and they need us. It is a two-way relationship. When we don’t commit passionately to a church we are cheating everyone, including ourselves, out of God’s best. Josh states that by not committing to a church we cheat ourselves, our church community and our world. Why? Because we are all part of the universal body of Christ and the body won’t function properly unless all parts are in fellowship with the others.
Josh goes a step further in showing the importance that Christ places on the church. He says, “The church is the vehicle that Jesus chose to take the message of the gospel to every generation and people.” If we want to be part of seeing the world transformed by Christ we must be part of the means to see that through - His church. And it is through Christ’s church that we put ourselves in the best possible position to be used by Him. Shouldn’t that be the desire of us all, to be used to the utmost by God?
After showing us the importance of the church Josh then shows us how we are Christ’s bride. This may be the best and really only reason needed to want to belong to a local church. Josh explains it this way - “the strongest argument I know for why you and I should love and care about the Church is that Jesus does. The greatest motivation we could ever find for being passionately committed to the Church is that Jesus is passionately committed to the Church.” That is powerful! Do we need any more reasons to find a church body to give our lives to than Christ gave His life for it?
The next chapter Josh deals with our view of the church as a club. A club is something we pour ourselves into. We talk about it, read about it, listen to others talk about it, meet with people who love it like we do. We need to do the same with the church.
In choosing a church Josh gives us ten things to look for. All I can say is as a leader in my church I want others to find all ten of them at my church. This chapter urges me to make sure that all ten become a reality.
The chapter that spoke most to me was the chapter titled “Rescuing Sunday.” In this chapter Josh addresses everything about the church experience we have on the Lord’s Day. How that day is to be a day “packed with promise, full of surprises, pulsing with life.” That alone is enough to get me excited about Sunday. God wants to do amazing things when His children meet at His house. He wants to do above and beyond anything we could ever imagine, if we would just come together in corporate worship as His body. Josh adds, “When your heart begins to beat for God’s glory and God’s people and you begin to glimpse His longing to visit you, Sunday changes. Actually, it becomes something extraordinary. Something sacred. Something essential.” To help us achieve in making Sunday the Lord’s Day he gives great points on what to do in the days leading up to Sunday, what to do during the service, then how to follow the meeting.
This is a book that I plan on reading again. I highly recommend this to everyone, no matter if you only occasionally attend church or darken the doors every time they are open, you will be encouraged.
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Review 9 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God
Should I stick with her, fly solo, or find something new? This sounds like the mind of a middle school student struggling with relationships. The sad part about this question is its commonality in the minds of many. A reality that is present in both early teen relationships and many of those who profess to be Christian and with their relationship to the church. We all know people who “date the church.” In Joshua Harris’s book Why Church Matters (previously titled Stop Dating the Church), Harris makes a plea with Christians to stop “Dating the Church.”Throughout scripture there is a persistent illustration used to describe Christ’s relationship with the church and Yahweh’s relationship with Israel. The illustration that is used is one which describes the relationship as a marriage. Harris begins the book by describing a wedding day. When the bride is revealed and all are gazing upon her beauty, No one present can deny her affection for her spouse as she approaches him. Does this affection describe your feelings towards the church? Ephesians 5:1 calls us to be imitators of God. Paul’s commands within this chapter do not end there. At the end of Ephesians 5 Paul calls men to sacrificially love their spouses as Christ does the church. If Christ’s love extends to the point of death for the church, should our passions and heart not be for the church be likewise? Our love for the church should imitate that of Christ’s. In an individualistic society, that sees a relationship with Christ as individualistic and isolated, Harris calls us to pour our lives into the church. A personal relationship with Christ is one which is passionate about communion and fellowship with the saints. A personal relationship with Christ is not one which is personal to the extent that it is devoid of the local body. Harris additionally correctly points out that if the church is central to God’s purpose in scripture, it must certainly be ours as well. As believers we desperately need the church. Harris explains this necessity when he says, “sanctification is a community project.” The church plays a vital role in our sanctification (e.g. Col 3:16). Next, Harris offers 10 helpful points to help those looking for a church. Finally, Harris concludes with two chapters on what one can do in order to get more out of their Sunday services. First, prepare for Sunday. Those who get the most enjoyment out of sports, practice and prepare for games. Likewise, those who prepare for services get more out of the service and enjoy it more. Next, Harris’ makes a plea for others to start paying more attention to how they listen. More often than not we find ourselves with our minds on afternoon lunch rather than meeting with the God of the universe. Harris argues that in order to get more out of Sundays we need to pay more attention to how we pay attention. Finally, Harris argues that you should immediately start applying what you have heard after the services. Do not give you mind a chance to forget what you have heard. Immediately after the service ends, start asking yourself, “How should my life change in light of what God has said?” I thoroughly enjoyed Harris’s book. I think his message, is a message that the modern church is in desperate need of hearing. Harris’s book attacks church hopping, those who are present but do not own the mission of the church, and those who believe that they are fine without the church. I love Joshua Harris’ writing style. I think Harris is one of the few writes who are really good at using stories to make theological arguments. The book is simple enough for a teenager, yet challenging enough for any aged Christian. The book is not very long and has large print. If you have someone in mind that does not enjoy reading, but you want to get them excited about the church and theology, this is the book. Buy this book and share with others! Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah Publication Date: 2011 Pages: 140 Binding Type: Paperback Book Grade: A+
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Review 10 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
***Why Church Matterw*** will revitalize your Sunday mornings! Joshua Harris does an amazing job of conveying not only his own passion for the local church, but the passion and love that Jesus has for His bride, the Church. He makes a strong case for formal membership and for each attender being actively engaged in his local church. He also examines 10 critical questions to ask when looking for a new church and outlines how to leave a church in a God-honring way. He has practical suggestions to make each Sunday morning an anniversary celebration of the first Easter morning. And he encourages every believer to do his/her part to help the church be the shining testimony that God designed it to be.
This book will become part of our recommended reading, and I hope every person pursuing membership at our church will read this book first.
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Review 11 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
Reading Philip Yancey's "Church: Why Bother" first was a little unfair to Joshua Harris. I always love Yancey’s writing style and investigative-like reporting. He is a writer as a profession, whereas Joshua Harris is a pastor. I don’t mean to knock pastors who write—for I am one, sort of—but Harris’s book just isn’t as good, though it has some key features Yancey’s doesn’t.
Joshua Harris writes about how we should stop dating the church and tie the knot already, how God wants us in a relationship with his Church, one that is defined by both passion and commitment. Harris writes from the perspective of one raised in church and who never left, while Yancey was also raised in church but became skeptical and fairly critical of the church. Harris seems to be writing to churchgoers (possibly disgruntled ones), not people curious about church.
Harris does offer some practical tips on how to choose a church, and encouragingly, nowhere does he mention anything about music, kids’ programs, buildings, or any of the other items church shoppers usually have on their checklists. He includes
teaching driven by the authority of Scripture celebration of the gospel finding leaders that are trustworthy an environment of connection and six others. If you’re looking for a church, this is a great resource, though you’re not likely to find one that does all of these well.
The best part of the book for me is when he encourages worshipers to get more out of Sunday morning. Preparation begins on Saturday night, he says, what you choose to do and not to do. I’d estimate that at least half of all churchgoers don’t really know what Sunday morning is for. They don’t know what to expect in that hour or so. But they keep going. This is changing, of course, as church attendance continues to drop steadily. For many just don’t see the point, and their packed calendars are intruding on a time that used to be sacred.
I’m just not sure Harris answers the question for me: Does church matter? For instance, the first century Church looked a lot different than churches in 21st century America. Why should I attend a regular church down the street over meeting regularly in a home with Christians?
Yancey gives greater examples of a local church’s impact, which is why I recommend his book over Joshua Harris’s Why Church Matters, though his chapter six (“Rescuing Sunday”), and maybe five (“Choosing Your Church”), might be worth the price alone.
=== Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 12 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
“Why does church matter?” Growing up in a solid Christian family, attending church faithfully, I always knew church was important. I just never realized how important. Joshua Harris’s book Why Church Matters, (formerly titled Stop Dating the Church), answers that question in vivid detail. Considered a “relationship expert” by many, Harris now brings new light to our relationship with the family of God. Using Scripture, personal experience, and realistic examples and stories, Joshua Harris explains how essential church is for every Christian and shows what we miss when we don’t commit. On page 8, he makes this pretty clear by saying, “When we resist passion and commitment in our relationship with the church, everyone gets cheated out of God’s best. You cheat yourself, you cheat a church community, and you cheat your world.” These bold, truthful statements are essentially the groundwork for Why Church Matters. This book teaches us to look at church from a heavenly, not a human, perspective. After all, if Jesus loved the church, so should we. If church wasn’t important, God never would have ordained it! Throughout the book, Joshua Harris challenges the attitudes regarding the church and lays out simple strategies for giving, and in turn, receiving, the most from church. The book’s clarity and organization were definite pluses. This book gave me a great appreciation for my church. It reminded me Christian fellowship is a privilege, not a duty. Although we don’t have to go to church to be saved, we sure do need it to stay saved! While I don’t concur with all Joshua Harris’s ideas of doctrine, and there are a few other points I disagree with him on, this book does do an overall good job of explaining Why Church Matters. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my review.
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Review 13 for Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God - eBook
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.