Book Review: “Stop Dating the Church!: Fall In Love with the Family of God” (Joshua Harris)
I finished “Stop Dating the Church!: Fall In Love with the Family of God” by Joshua Harris around 1:00 this morning. Like I stated before, the book and I had a little bit of a rough start; but I’m glad I decided to finish reading it instead of throwing it back on my bookshelf.
For such a little book (approximately 130 pages), it contained a lot of information – especially in the last few chapters. I’ll give you a few highlights, but you’ll have to read the book yourself to get everything else. 🙂
In chapter 4 Josh encourages Christians to “join the club”… to get involved and serve in their church instead of just being professional pew-parkers. He states:
“A passionate disciple is always asking, “What can i do to serve God and other with what He’s so generously given me? … We shouldn’t withhold our gifts at church. We shouldn’t even wait to be called on to exercise them.”
That struck a chord with me. A lot of times I don’t “step up to the plate” and ask how I can be of help; rather, I wait for people to seek me out and ask for it, and even then sometimes I find excuses why I “can’t” do my part. He later talked along the lines of what we’re passionate about will result in and be demonstrated by action.
I found chapter 5 to be exceptionally interesting because he gave 10 important questions to ask when searching for a local church in which to plant your membership. Here are the questions…
- Is this a church where God’s Word is faithfully taught? (II Tim. 3:16)
- Is this a church where sound doctrine matters? (Acts 2:42, II Tim. 4:3-4)
- Is this a church in which the Gospel is cherished and clearly proclaimed?
- Is this a church committed to reaching non-Christians with the Gospel? (Matt. 28:18-20)
- Is this a church whose leaders are characterized by humility and integrity? (I Tim. 3)
- Is this a church where people strive to live by God’s Word? (James 1:22)
- Is this a church where I can find and cultivate godly relationships?
- Is this a church where members are challenged to serve? (Eph. 4:12)
- Is this a church that is willing to kick me out? (I Cor. 5, II Cor 2, Matt. 18)
- Is this a church I’m willing to join “as is” with enthusiasm and faith in God?
They’re good rules to follow… or at least a good start. Be careful for wolves in sheep’s clothing though – they’re out there. I’m thankful that the church I’m a member of can answer yes to all of those questions.
The last chapter I want to touch on is chapter 6, “Rescuing Sunday.” In this chapter Josh discusses the importance of preparing our hearts for the Lord’s day. Watching TV, reading the newspaper, playing video games, or cranking up the radio really does nothing to edify or prepare your heart for the services that are about to take place. In the words of the author:
“It makes sense, really. We shouldn’t expect a rich spiritual experience on Sunday if we’re not willing to prepare our hearts and minds. Think about other parts of life: Before we play sports, we warm up. Before a big presentation at work, we review our notes. Before we take a major test, we study. Why should we assume that we can show up on Sunday with no spiritual preparation?”
Later in the chapter, Josh talked about the preaching during a service. He wrote:
“The importance of the sermon has nothing to do with the stature of the pastor who is preaching and everything to do with the authority and power of the Word of God. When God’s Word is preached to us, in a very real sense God is speaking. … [It’s] the responsibility of the people hearing a sermon to listen carefully and apply the truth they hear. … I will be held accountable for what I have heard regardless of whether it moved me emotionally. If you’re brave, I encourage you to read that sentence again.) God’s truth is God’s truth. … If I have heard God’s truth, then I am called to obey it. Period.”
Overall, the book was definitely good. If you’re searching for a church, this book will help you. And if you’re anything like me, I encourage you to not judge a book by the first few chapters – read it all the way through, then make your argument. See, I did learn something… 🙂