Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God
by Joshua Harris
Do you go to church? Yes? Okay, why?
This book helps you answer that question. It is aimed to help restore your vision for what the church is all about and what your role is in relation to a real and tangible local church – you know “the church down the street” (the phrase he uses for the local church that you attend).
Joshua Harris first gained notoriety in the Evangelical world for his books on relationships (“I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship“) in the early 2000s. He has since become the senior pastor of a growing church in MD and has written a few other books.
This book has echos of his early books on relationships. It opens with the reality of what we are missing out on when we don’t commit to the relationship and what we get to be a part of when we do commit. It is a call to not be a “church dater.”
Why should you commit? Why is the church important?
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. (Loc. 265)
It is pretty hard to argue with that logic. If Jesus loves the Church then we should too.
But that’s the “Church.” What about “the church down the street”? It has got problems you know. Well, you know what? Problems are part of what makes the church wonderful. It is where God’s wisdom is on full display. “It’s the powerful effects of the Gospel being worked out in real lives and real relationships” (Loc. 280). The Gospel changes individuals. That is wonderfully amazing. What makes the church special is that it is where you see a whole new kind of humanity on display. A whole community of people who should be divided – by race, by class, by political ideology – all brought together into one body (Loc. 283).
The early part of the book is trying to answer the “why” question of loving the church. The end gets more practical with some suggestions for “how” to love the church. It means coming not for what you can get but for what you can give. It means being a part of the church more than just for those two hours on Sunday morning. It is about living out the “one another” commands in the context of “shared life.” It means coming to actively listen and be transformed by the preaching of the Word. Harris shares a quotation from John Piper who “encourages his church to ‘come on the lookout for God and leave on the lookout for people” (Loc. 1048). This what life in the church should look like. People transformed by their individual relationship with God, loving others out of the overflow.
This book is really just a call to care about the Church – including the church down the street – because Jesus cares about the Church.
It isn’t a deep theology of the church. Those are out there if you want them. It isn’t long. It is conversational and really is easy reading. It is a relationship book. It’s about the relationship between you and the church.
DISCLAIMER: I received a free evaluation copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah. I did not receive any monetary payment nor was I required to write a positive review. I hope my comments about the book will help you evaluate whether or not the book is worth purchasing and reading.