Originally, this book was called Stop Dating the Church, and in this reviewers humble opinion, that was the perfect title. I get the change: lead with a question, negative commands produce negative reactions, yada, yada, yada. But seriously, Joshua Harris, author of Why Church Matters and numerous other publications really nails this message on the head. Ever been a church-hopper, just seeing what all God might have in store for you? Ever said to yourself, “I didn’t get much out of that service”? Or perhaps you have wondered what to say to people who say they’re “in between” churches right now. Then this is the book for you.
Harris, known for promoting a modern day courtship system, opens his case smoothly and gently. He doesn’t come out swinging, calling everyone names and pointing fingers. Rather, he shares personal stories that have universal application, which all boil down to one thing: Christ demonstrates Himself through the Church, which means you should be active in a local church. Simple, but a powerful point. Harris accurately identifies the directionless movement of so many Christians, migrating from one church to another without cause or from a selfish motivation. He highlights the consumer mentality that has infected Christianity. But this book isn’t anchored in present day, American statistics; Harris relies on Scripture throughout, providing a beautiful exposition of Ephesians which enhances the book’s overall theme of Christ –> Church –> local church –> you.
On a personal note, it’s interesting to see the interchange of ideas present in the book. Harris, who is friends with Donald Miller, makes references to Miller’s own writings, pointing out both positive and negative aspects of his perspective. This is, quite honestly, the book lived out. Two Christians who do not agree one everything still staying in community with each other and reminding one another that we are one a mission. It’s our job to keep each other on that mission, and Harris’ short book is intended to do just that.
While the book brings to mind Gene Edward’s previous work, A Tale of Three Kings, Harris’ contribution to the current dialogue about where the Church is heading, and what can be done about it, is a welcome offering. The simple language and robust stories offered in the book provide a solid basis for any Christian. If you’re plugged in to a local church, and serving faithfully there, then you probably don’t need to read this. For everyone else, I’d move it to the top of the priority list.