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Are You Dating the Church? We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don't want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We're not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? Stop Dating the Church reminds us that faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit. The church is the place God grows Are You Dating the Church? We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don't want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We're not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? Stop Dating the Church reminds us that faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit. The church is the place God grows us, encourages us, and uses us best. Loving Jesus Christ involves a passionate commitment to His church — around the world and down the street. We can't be apathetic. It's time to fall in love with the family of God.


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Are You Dating the Church? We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don't want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We're not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? Stop Dating the Church reminds us that faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit. The church is the place God grows Are You Dating the Church? We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don't want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We're not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? Stop Dating the Church reminds us that faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit. The church is the place God grows us, encourages us, and uses us best. Loving Jesus Christ involves a passionate commitment to His church — around the world and down the street. We can't be apathetic. It's time to fall in love with the family of God.

30 review for Stop Dating the Church: Fall in Love with the Family of God

  1. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Vellacott

    This was okay, but not as good as his books on relationships. It's short and seemed to have a lot more Americanisms that grated after a while. The principles are good: people shouldn't church hop but should be fully committed members of their local Gospel preaching church. I'm sure there must be better books out there on the subject of church membership/commitment. This was okay, but not as good as his books on relationships. It's short and seemed to have a lot more Americanisms that grated after a while. The principles are good: people shouldn't church hop but should be fully committed members of their local Gospel preaching church. I'm sure there must be better books out there on the subject of church membership/commitment.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James

    I am reviewing the updated version of this book elsewhere (now titled, "Why Church Matters") so will not provide a full review here, but here are some of criticisms: 1. This book is addressed to people who have intellectual doubts about why the church is important and does not address pastoral concerns of those who have been seriously wounded by the church. As I read this book I thought of people I know with 'Church Angst' and found that Harris either is unaware of the ways in which churches can I am reviewing the updated version of this book elsewhere (now titled, "Why Church Matters") so will not provide a full review here, but here are some of criticisms: 1. This book is addressed to people who have intellectual doubts about why the church is important and does not address pastoral concerns of those who have been seriously wounded by the church. As I read this book I thought of people I know with 'Church Angst' and found that Harris either is unaware of the ways in which churches can wound people, or he doesn't think that the emotional part of this is important enough to address. 2. This book criticizes church 'daters' as being too individualistic and me-centered but fails to provide a compelling ecclesiology. In the end it says you should join a church because that is how you will grow and get the most out of your spiritual life. Sounds individualistic and me-centered to me. Perhaps it is because this book has a low view of sacraments (the sacraments are there to demonstrate your commitment to Jesus and thus the church). 3. God's mission for the church is given lip-service but is not unpacked and only stated a few times. Thus Harris provides anecdotes of people getting serious about church and leaving their hobbies behind (clubs, special interest groups). It made me wonder, what is the purpose of church if you real advocate that the individual Christians in your group pull back from commitments to non-Christians? Be committed to church, sure, but can the church reach the world? 4. The book is written by a pastor from a pastors perspective and so the exhortations to serve in church, tithe at church and make your pastor's life a joy, seem a little self serving. My other review, for another venue needs to extol the virtues of this book a little more (and there are some), so I am using my goodreads to gripe a little.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    An amazing book that paints a beautiful picture of the purpose of church and how we're supposed to interact with it. Although Joshua Harris has done a phenomenal job with providing examples and personal stories, he sets up quite an idealistic example of the church. This isn't bad, but in some ways the book came across as a to do list. It's still good though that he shows how a church should operate, and gives us a great idea of what we should be striving for at the least. I definitely don't agree An amazing book that paints a beautiful picture of the purpose of church and how we're supposed to interact with it. Although Joshua Harris has done a phenomenal job with providing examples and personal stories, he sets up quite an idealistic example of the church. This isn't bad, but in some ways the book came across as a to do list. It's still good though that he shows how a church should operate, and gives us a great idea of what we should be striving for at the least. I definitely don't agree with his opinion that Christians shouldn't observe the sabbath (103 Harris). I think taking a break off of things and resting for a day is an extremely important thing to do. In America we work our employees to death mercilessly, along with our children. We should be giving people a break from things with an opportunity to rest at least ounce a week. We tend to get ourselves so busy that we don't even have the time to think about God. I will also mention that the book says you should read your bible in the morning before church. Although this is a good habit, I don't believe studying in the morning is good for everyone. On top of that, I think in America we emphasize studying your bible strongly, but we see prayer being a primary concern in Jesus example of praying in the mornings. I'm not saying that Joshua Harris is wrong in saying that studying the bible in the morning isn't important. But some people get more out of their study at night and prayer is also extremely important. I'll also quickly mention not to take the authors advice on quickly finding a church. Take your time with this and play it slow instead. Committing to a church is a very serious thing and should not be rushed, just like a marriage. The problems I've mentioned with the book are quite minor considering the rest of the great content. So most of the theology is good, just a few big ify things brought up. I very highly suggest this as a discipleship tool you can guide someone through, or just a short read. Add a star if you like short explanations that get to the point and take away one if you don't like having everything throughly explained.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael D'Offay

    Sometimes a little book comes along which totally surprises me. This is one of them and it deals with dating… or more specifically.. dating the church. I know many people who want to grow in red hot relationship with Jesus but they are lukewarm at best towards Jesus’ family. Josh Harris reminds us that God’s plan is that we love Jesus passionately but also his people passionately and he shares his own personal journey from being a ‘church-dater’ to church lover. What I enjoyed about this book is Sometimes a little book comes along which totally surprises me. This is one of them and it deals with dating… or more specifically.. dating the church. I know many people who want to grow in red hot relationship with Jesus but they are lukewarm at best towards Jesus’ family. Josh Harris reminds us that God’s plan is that we love Jesus passionately but also his people passionately and he shares his own personal journey from being a ‘church-dater’ to church lover. What I enjoyed about this book is that it is very easy to read. (good for you non-readers out there!) Harris has such a fresh, accessible writing style and he is able to communicate deep truths in a simple way. The challenge for many of us who have been serving and loving God’s people for years is that it’s so easy to become indifferent towards church. We lose the wide-eyed wonder and the excitement of being with the saints and we allow apathy to creep in. Once I finished reading it, I was left with a profound reminder that God loves his church, wants me to love it in the same way and has designed it to be a place where He grows us, shapes us and uses us best. This is a great little book to read and also to recommend to friends who are allergic or sceptical or had a bad experience about church yet do desire to know God.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    Superb book! Most every congregation struggles with people who choose not to commit to the church, or can't see the reason to do so. Josh Harris here presents a very simple, Scriptural case for committing to the local church and giving it a high priority in one's life. It's a very quick, easy read. Superb book! Most every congregation struggles with people who choose not to commit to the church, or can't see the reason to do so. Josh Harris here presents a very simple, Scriptural case for committing to the local church and giving it a high priority in one's life. It's a very quick, easy read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mindi

    I read this book in an effort to improve my attitude toward the local church. The author seems to be in the reformed neo-Calvinist camp, so we don't agree on certain theological issues, but he makes enough good points to make the book worth reading because almost no one else is writing books about why we ought to be committed to the local church. I say that with this caveat: some of the stuff in this book ought to be removed with a black permanent marker. For instance: "If you are not a member of I read this book in an effort to improve my attitude toward the local church. The author seems to be in the reformed neo-Calvinist camp, so we don't agree on certain theological issues, but he makes enough good points to make the book worth reading because almost no one else is writing books about why we ought to be committed to the local church. I say that with this caveat: some of the stuff in this book ought to be removed with a black permanent marker. For instance: "If you are not a member of the local church you regularly attend, you may well be going to hell." That is a quote, not from Harris, but from a pastor named Mark Dever. I completely disagree. I belong to a local church. I am even friends with my pastors, but that is not what keeps me out of Hell. They would be the first to tell you that. Here is a great quote from Harris: "Our corporate worship edifies and strengthens us and glorifies God in ways nothing else can." The best section of the book is quite simply a quote from Spurgeon: "I know there are some who say, "Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to the church." Now why not? "Because I can be a Christian without it." Are you quite clear about that? You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord's commands as by being obedient? What is a brick made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you that it is just as good a brick while it is kicking about on the ground as it would be in the house. It is a good-for-nothing brick. So you rolling-stone Christians, I do not believe that you are answering your purpose. You are living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live, and you are much to blame for the injury you do." (end of quote) Harris points out in the end of the book that when Christ questions Peter post-resurrection that He is calling Peter to love the church. Jesus asks us to do something very specific. "...He calls you to simply love His church. Because caring deeply about what Jesus cares about is your true calling." I believe that Harris is right about this. I have seen too many Christians shipwreck when they walk away from the church; it doesn't happen immediately, but in a different season. The fact that it does not happen immediately deceives people into a false sense of security in their refusal to commit to a local church. No man is a healthy island over time. While this book makes many valid points, I think that a better book on the same topic would be Dick Iverson's Guarding the Local Church. I should probably re-read it in my quest for a better, more whole-hearted attitude toward the local church.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nate LaClaire

    We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don’t want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We’re not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? In Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God, bestselling author Joshua Harris says no, God’s purpose for Christians involves a deep commitment to a local church. This commitment involves far more than showing up on Sunday to sing, chat, and listen to We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don’t want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We’re not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? In Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God, bestselling author Joshua Harris says no, God’s purpose for Christians involves a deep commitment to a local church. This commitment involves far more than showing up on Sunday to sing, chat, and listen to a sermon. Josh says that in order for us to have the kind of relationship with a local church that God intended, we must first see the Church (universal church) as God sees it. This is the third book by Josh Harris that I’ve read. One of my favorite things about his books is that his writing style is so conversational and unassuming. I feel when I pick up one of his books as if I’ve sat down with a friend for a cup of coffee and encouragement sprinkled with confession. He uses a variety of examples, but many of them come from his own life – his own shortcomings and mistakes. And yet, his books are always grounded in scripture and demonstrate a satisfaction in Christ that many only secretly dream of. In Stop Dating the Church!, Josh breaks down the arguments for church dating and explains why God desires that we have the close relationships with other Christians found only in a local church. Like with any commandment of God, there are real, tangible benefits to obedience. Commitment to a local church takes effort, but the benefits far outweigh that effort. Unfortunately, many of us are too committed outside of the church to have a real relationship with the other members of our local body. In the book, Josh offers real advice on how to commit to the church and what commitment looks like. He also discusses choosing a church, including what things are a matter of taste and what things are vital to a healthy church family – and, by extension, a healthy Christian. He then talks about how to make the most of Sunday, including the church service and the rest of the day. I highly recommend that you read this book, whether or not you think you might qualify as a church dater. I found the book convicting, but also encouraging and insightful. It’s helped me to look at my own relationship with my church in a new light and I am looking forward to applying more of Josh’s suggestions.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Whitehead

    I was not really impressed with this book. I try to read everything with an open mind but there was a good share of this book that was just quotes from other people. I appreciate his enthusiasm for "church" but he never addressed really whether or not we are "doing church" correctly. As a pastor I see many areas where we do many things that have no bearing on what Jesus has really called us to do. My biggest disappointment was on page 111 where he says "The sermon is the most important part of t I was not really impressed with this book. I try to read everything with an open mind but there was a good share of this book that was just quotes from other people. I appreciate his enthusiasm for "church" but he never addressed really whether or not we are "doing church" correctly. As a pastor I see many areas where we do many things that have no bearing on what Jesus has really called us to do. My biggest disappointment was on page 111 where he says "The sermon is the most important part of the Sunday meeting." Even as one who regularly preaches I strongly disagree. I know this book may help someone who needs to be introduced to the idea of fellowship into a larger body of believers but as a whole I probably will not be passing this on to anyone to read. The upside is that it was an easy read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rock Rockwell

    With the "anti-church" movement against "organized religion" among some today, it is good to hear a godly young man write with passion on the need to marry a church (and quit dating it). Harris provides a simplistic and heart-felt cry to Christians to put your heart into the Bride of Christ and marry her! Our church gave every High School graduate this book one year and many enjoyed it, but most probably did not go to church while in that next year of college (except on Christmas and Easter brea With the "anti-church" movement against "organized religion" among some today, it is good to hear a godly young man write with passion on the need to marry a church (and quit dating it). Harris provides a simplistic and heart-felt cry to Christians to put your heart into the Bride of Christ and marry her! Our church gave every High School graduate this book one year and many enjoyed it, but most probably did not go to church while in that next year of college (except on Christmas and Easter breaks). I wonder how many of them stayed close to the Lord at that time too? I think a healthy, biblical, gospel-centered church outlined by Harris would have helped them at that pivotal stage in life. How about you?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    A practical guide to what you should think about and consider before choosing a church. I found the information in this book to be extremely well researched and thought provoking. Joshua Harris did an excellent job of telling you what you should look for and then explaining exactly why you need to meet those standards. I'd recommend this book. *Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2008... A practical guide to what you should think about and consider before choosing a church. I found the information in this book to be extremely well researched and thought provoking. Joshua Harris did an excellent job of telling you what you should look for and then explaining exactly why you need to meet those standards. I'd recommend this book. *Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2008...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Brehm

    While there are some beneficial thoughts there are also some very manipulative ideas as well. Someone looking for a church would be far better served by reading "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" especially coming from the church culture from which this book was hatched. While there are some beneficial thoughts there are also some very manipulative ideas as well. Someone looking for a church would be far better served by reading "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" especially coming from the church culture from which this book was hatched.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    In light of the recent news this summer that Josh has divorced his wife and walked away from the faith it was really sad to see his deep understanding of God’s word and know that some 15 years later he’s renounced His walk with Christ. I couldn’t help but think of him as he gave example of Peter’s denial inn the last chapter. Praying that he would, like Peter, turn back and follow the Lord. There was some interesting takes in this book. For one, Harris explained that if a kid is part of a strong In light of the recent news this summer that Josh has divorced his wife and walked away from the faith it was really sad to see his deep understanding of God’s word and know that some 15 years later he’s renounced His walk with Christ. I couldn’t help but think of him as he gave example of Peter’s denial inn the last chapter. Praying that he would, like Peter, turn back and follow the Lord. There was some interesting takes in this book. For one, Harris explained that if a kid is part of a strong local church they should strongly consider staying home as opposed to moving out of town for college. The other thing that I took away were the distinctive characteristics of a church that separates itself: 1) Baptism 2) The Lord’s Supper 3) Discipline “You can see right away, then, that a local church is different from a campus ministry or a neighborhood Bible study” 4) Congregational Worship 5) Ministry of others - especially pastors

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rev. Linda

    This is a re-read of a text that I have included in my Mentoring Suggested Reading List -- From the publisher: Are You Dating the Church? We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don't want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We're not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? Stop Dating the Church reminds us that faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit. The church is the place God grows us, encourages This is a re-read of a text that I have included in my Mentoring Suggested Reading List -- From the publisher: Are You Dating the Church? We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don't want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We're not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? Stop Dating the Church reminds us that faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit. The church is the place God grows us, encourages us, and uses us best. Loving Jesus Christ involves a passionate commitment to His church — around the world and down the street. We can't be apathetic. It's time to fall in love with the family of God.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Monique S. (The Ginger Librarian)

    This author recently announced that he has lost his faith in Jesus and is no longer a Christian. Such sad news. 😔 I pray that God continues to pursue him and speak to his heart. My opinions of his books have changed however... I no longer feel I can trust his advice on relationships or faith, when he abandoned both his marriage and his faith... and he is very openly claiming that in doing this, he feels "very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful", which is very concerning. I hope and This author recently announced that he has lost his faith in Jesus and is no longer a Christian. Such sad news. 😔 I pray that God continues to pursue him and speak to his heart. My opinions of his books have changed however... I no longer feel I can trust his advice on relationships or faith, when he abandoned both his marriage and his faith... and he is very openly claiming that in doing this, he feels "very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful", which is very concerning. I hope and pray he doesn't use his fame to convince others to walk away from their faith in Jesus as well. (https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/entertai...)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anne-laure

    Really good book, especially if you are one of those who likes to date the church. I personally never did, but I found that I could recommend this book to someone who was. After reading the book, my friend felt really convicted to actually stay and serve one church. Joshua Harris shows why we should only go to one church and why. It's about serving the church and building one another up in the Gospel. But even if you don't church hop, the author also gives some really good points about how to ch Really good book, especially if you are one of those who likes to date the church. I personally never did, but I found that I could recommend this book to someone who was. After reading the book, my friend felt really convicted to actually stay and serve one church. Joshua Harris shows why we should only go to one church and why. It's about serving the church and building one another up in the Gospel. But even if you don't church hop, the author also gives some really good points about how to choose a good church. It is worth a read, especially if you have moved to a new city and need some pointers in finding a church.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Nice, short, direct resource making a Biblical case for why membership matters in the local church. I saw this recommended in Anyabwile's "What is a Healthy Church Member" and found it to be more of what I was looking for, though Anyabwile's book is good for different reasons. One caveat, Harris makes numerous references to C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace, and Covenant Life Church. These ministries (along with Harris' own I Kissed Dating Goodbye retrospective movie) have been in and out of the new Nice, short, direct resource making a Biblical case for why membership matters in the local church. I saw this recommended in Anyabwile's "What is a Healthy Church Member" and found it to be more of what I was looking for, though Anyabwile's book is good for different reasons. One caveat, Harris makes numerous references to C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace, and Covenant Life Church. These ministries (along with Harris' own I Kissed Dating Goodbye retrospective movie) have been in and out of the news in the past decade and might be distracting for some readers.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Y.Y.

    This book was a free gift from my church after attending a class on 'What's Next?' I enjoyed it and gave me a new perspective on how to get more involved in church and service. Having a church community and brothers and sisters in Christ to walk together is so important. We cannot do it in isolation. This book gives you lots of practical advice on how to immerse yourself into church, not just for the weekly sermons. It's also not about how good a speaker the pastors are but rather your attitude This book was a free gift from my church after attending a class on 'What's Next?' I enjoyed it and gave me a new perspective on how to get more involved in church and service. Having a church community and brothers and sisters in Christ to walk together is so important. We cannot do it in isolation. This book gives you lots of practical advice on how to immerse yourself into church, not just for the weekly sermons. It's also not about how good a speaker the pastors are but rather your attitude that really matters.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Why Church Matters presents a case for the importance of the local church that might be a little too centered on the local church, while neglecting the greater church body. The general concepts are good and make sense, especially around the importance of being deeply connected to the church. However, it misses the mark on presenting the dangers of being too much so, and forming an idolic relationship with the local body. The book was thought provoking, but leaves me concerned around not providin Why Church Matters presents a case for the importance of the local church that might be a little too centered on the local church, while neglecting the greater church body. The general concepts are good and make sense, especially around the importance of being deeply connected to the church. However, it misses the mark on presenting the dangers of being too much so, and forming an idolic relationship with the local body. The book was thought provoking, but leaves me concerned around not providing a balanced and healthy approach to the church.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Robert Dillon

    A point a little laboured, but nonetheless a valuable antidote to the consumerist mentality which we can often be tempted to slip into. Perhaps of most importance is the need to recognise that a single member cannot, and should not, attempt to single-handedly 'fix' their flawed church, but to submit and serve with humility - a useful lesson for us all! A point a little laboured, but nonetheless a valuable antidote to the consumerist mentality which we can often be tempted to slip into. Perhaps of most importance is the need to recognise that a single member cannot, and should not, attempt to single-handedly 'fix' their flawed church, but to submit and serve with humility - a useful lesson for us all!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elena Chan

    It was a simple direct explanation of the reasons to commit to a local church. While it doesn’t set out to be a comprehensive text on the concept of church, it certainly opened up more curiosity to learn more about church. Overall I found it helpful, particularly being back to what it’s about and a challenge on my attitude. Read this in a few sittings, very achievable.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caesha Pablo

    This book was given to me by one of my High school friend for my 18th Birthday. She is a daughter of a pastor and she has a big impact on my life. This book opened my mind on how to perceive church relationship as a teenager. Especially on parts where you had to be disciplined if you had done something unacceptable in some sort of way.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charles Carter

    This was required for a class I had to take. I'd previously read quite enough of Harris, dating, lusting, marrying, etc. that this seemed like more of the same. Honestly, I didn't blame him - he'd struck a goldmine with that little formula, but personally I was over it. I had the book, but I decided to focus more on other readings and things that had to do with the class. I neglected this book, giving it just enough attention to get the gist of it for whatever might come in class. Thankfully, I This was required for a class I had to take. I'd previously read quite enough of Harris, dating, lusting, marrying, etc. that this seemed like more of the same. Honestly, I didn't blame him - he'd struck a goldmine with that little formula, but personally I was over it. I had the book, but I decided to focus more on other readings and things that had to do with the class. I neglected this book, giving it just enough attention to get the gist of it for whatever might come in class. Thankfully, I did read it a few years later and wished I'd paid proper attention in class! Oh well, better late than never.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Helen Griffin

    Excellent challenging book calling us to be devoted to the Church and one another. The challenge for me is that you can be a member and not be truly devoted to the fellowship. List on page 76 is really helpful as things we should do and be.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David Cowpar

    It’s sad that the author of this has gone the way he has, but I believe the Lord will help him rediscover the truths he himself wrote about in this book. It has some great encouragement and insight.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wes Smith

    Very simple but helpful book on the importance of the local church and why God calls us to be a part of it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rob Medford

    This book is best suited for those who do not attend or who have a negative general view of church.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Dye

    A simple, yet informative read pertaining to the importance of the local church.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Lui

    Great small group discussion material.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Barker

    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 Kisse 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.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christian Hanna

    Why Church Matters is like your 6 A.M. alarm. It is absolutely necessary, but it can be rather painful. With humility and humor, Joshua Harris walks us through the often-overlooked topic of why church matters. “The church matters because Jesus chose it to tell and show the world the message of His love.” – pg. 10 In his own words, that is this book boiled down to the core. Throughout this book, there are two things that Harris notes are absolutely essential in a church; commitment and passion. Why Church Matters is like your 6 A.M. alarm. It is absolutely necessary, but it can be rather painful. With humility and humor, Joshua Harris walks us through the often-overlooked topic of why church matters. “The church matters because Jesus chose it to tell and show the world the message of His love.” – pg. 10 In his own words, that is this book boiled down to the core. Throughout this book, there are two things that Harris notes are absolutely essential in a church; commitment and passion. These two things form the foundation for what the majority of the book is about. His seven chapters in this fairly short read move along at a crisp pace, not wasting words on side topics or wandering at all from the main thrust of the book. Why Church Matters, formerly called Stop Dating the Church is written by bestselling author Joshua Harris who has written numerous books, including I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Dug Down Deep. Having been mentored by popular writer and pastor C.J. Mahaney, Harris has now been made senior pastor of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Harris is an immensely gifted writer who has mastered, in this book, the balance of giving practical, experiential advice while still leaning primarily on Scripture. He remained solid theologically throughout, sticking mostly to that which is explicitly about the church in Scripture. In Why Church Matters, Harris powerfully drives home the point that church is not something that is optional for Christians. It is not something that will merely enhance our spiritual lives, it is essential to our spiritual lives. Beyond that, the church plays a major role in God’s plan. “The things we do together as Christians aren’t extracurricular activities. They’re not optional benefits to be claimed when we find the time. When we worship, pursue godliness, and live God’s Word together, we are expressing an integral part of what it means to be His followers.” – pg. 44 This book was published back in 2004. In our fast-moving world, a book written over a dozen years ago would be irrelevant for many subjects. Interestingly enough, God built the institution of the church to last. Harris’ book is relevant now and shall very well be relevant until Christ raptures His people. The principles in this book are not specific to a particular generation, time period, or cultural setting. They are relevant for you and me today, tomorrow, and for every year we spend on earth. I believe that this is because what Harris says comes not from his own mind, but from the Word of God, which will never fail. A thing to consider for this book, should you read it, is that Harris has written this so that it can impact a very large age range. However, not all of his suggestions may be applicable to you, depending on your age. For example, many teens will not decide where they end up going to church—that decision will be made by the parental units. That being said, this book is still full of solid principles by which you can evaluate where your church is at, where you are at, and where the two of you need to be headed. Harris’ book is one that will remain on my shelf for many years, and I recommend you consider adding it to your own.

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