Geniusposted by Little Mo | Permalink |
Ok - I reviewed a lot of books a bit negatively recently. So time for an extremely positive one. This book is total genius.
Joshua Harris is author of such titles as "I kissed dating goodbye" (maurice=NOT a fan) and "Boy Meets Girl" (maurice=a bit more of a fan). This is by far his best book, as it challenges the post-modern approach to church, and says "you may believe you are geting the best deal by dipping in and out of church, but you are only missing out."
There are loads of great things about this book - excellent advice about choosing a church, brilliant practical stuff about how to get the most out of it when you go, fantastic stuff about using Sunday to it's best potential.
But the best thing is that Harris takes what Jesus thinks of the church as the basis of what we should think of it. IE, this book is not legalistic (like some of his dating books have tended to be in my opinion) but grounds our commitment to church in relational, Gospel, grace terms. Church matters to Jesus more than we realise.
It's also immensely readable, short, and theologically clear without being at all heavy. You could easily give it to people who don't read much - students and teenagers and they wouldn't be bored or intimadated. And people who don't read Christian books much are the people, in my experience, who most need to hear the message of this one.
You know, I felt challenged by this working for a para-church movement. Often we can think, in my line of work, that we do the exciting pioneering stuff and the church is like the backstop or beneficiary of our missionary zeal. But the church is the point of it all. Jesus loves the church - the universal church represented by the local congregation, and our aim must be to be a resource and supporter of the local church.
One thing I'm not sure about, and I'd be interested in your views. Harris says that "corporate worship" is a special time, when we "worship" uniquely and differently to when we are alone. "Something happens" that can't quite happen when we are alone (or even gathered together with Christians outside the local church body.) I'm not sure what I think of this. My school of thought (heavily influenced by the conservative evangelical theology of Sydney Anglicanism, to which I owe much) says that the special presence of God with the gathered congregation is an Old Testament thing. Church is now about learning and encouragement to worship with our lives the rest of the time. Obviously Joshua Harris (and other people he is influenced by who I respect a lot, like John Piper and Mark Dever I think) don't agree with this sort of binary qualification on this. What do you guys think?
Oh - also, Joshua Harris has a subtle but definite dig at Blue like Jazz in this book - which also made me smile.