Looking for church in all the wrong places

Sometimes, I have a love-hate relationship with church.

I love the people who are the church. I hate what we sometimes do in the name of the church. I love getting together on Sundays. I hate that sometimes we leave it in the building and don’t take it into the rest of the week.

Like every relationship, it has its highs and lows. I’ve not considered leaving the church or living the Christian life solo, but after reading Joshua Harris’ Why Church Matters (formerly titled Stop Dating the Church), I’ve come to this realization: I’m unfaithful to the church.

Because my husband is going to be a pastor, I’ve thought that giving our lives and vocation for the church is commitment enough. Never mind that I “shop around” in my mind, comparing my current and former churches to other churches I’ve visited or heard about or read about.

If we could just be like that church, I’ll think, or, if only we lived closer to this church.

These kinds of thoughts set us up for disappointment and a lack of commitment to the church, God’s chosen vessel for the Gospel, His bride. Harris reminds us that Christ loves the church, and loved her to the point of death, and sees her with the eyes of a groom on his wedding day. She’s not perfect, but she’s getting there.

Harris encourages commitment to a biblically based church and offers 10 questions to consider before choosing a church. He does not advocate making the best of a bad situation, i.e. one where the Bible is secondary to anything else, discipline is an afterthought or where people live contrary to what they proclaim on Sunday. But church-shopping, or not attending one at all, is not to be a Christian’s way of life, according to Harris.

Some of Harris’ beliefs and teachings about church seem a little extreme to me and sometimes, with little room for grace. That doesn’t mean the book isn’t valuable. I think it’s best to take parts of it with a grain of salt. Like in another of his books, I Kissed Dating Good-bye, Harris writes with authority and backs up his beliefs with Scripture and experience.

I’m not sure everyone will buy everything he’s selling, but I think he makes some good points about committing to a church family, serving within that family and ending the search for a “perfect” church.

Check out chapter one here.

In exchange for this review, I received a free copy of the book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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