Review of Why Church Matters

There seems to be a trend in the USA that many Christians feel that they don’t need to be long to a local church. Most of us have or do feel like Harris felt at one point he says,

I loved God and had big dreams for how I wanted to serve Him, but I didn’t see any reason to get too involved in one church. By then, I thought I knew all there was to know about church, and I wasn’t impressed. Most churches struck me as out-of-date and out-of-touch. There had to be better, more efficient ways to accomplish great things for God. (Harris, 3)

Joshua Harris in his book Why Church Matters(formerly published as Stop Dating the Church) does an excellent job in explaining the importance of participating in a local congregation.
The book itself is not a difficult read at all (I was able to read it in under a week). It is around 120 pages, broken up in seven different chapters. At the end of the book he has now also included a set of study guide questions for each chapter. I found this book to be extremely helpful because as I was reading we were in the process of looking for a new church to call home, and he gave me very practical things to consider during my search.
While each chapter is important in its own right, three chapters stood out to me the most, Chapters 2, 5, & 6. Chapter 2 is entitled He Still Calls Her His Bride: Seeing the Church from Heaven’s Perspective.  In this chapter he takes us to the book of Ephesians and the famous husband and wives verses in chapter 5, but tells us to look at it from the perspective of Christ and how he loves. He goes on later to say that,
If Jesus loves the church, you and I should, too. We can’t use the excuse that the church has messed up too many times or that we’re disillusioned. Jesus is the only person who has the right to disown and give up on the church. Be He never has. And He never will. (Harris, 30)
Once Harris reaches chapter five he gives us ten things to look for in a local church. Those criterion are:
1. Is this a church where God’s Word is faithfully taught?
2. Is this a church where sound doctrine matters?
3. Is this a church in which the gospel is cherished and clearly proclaimed?
4. Is this a church committed to reaching non-Christians with the gospel?
5. Is this a church whose leaders are characterized by humility and integrity?
6. Is this a church where people strive to live by God’s Word?
7. Is this a church where I can find and cultivate godly relationships?
8. Is this a church where members are challenged to serve?
9. Is this a church that is willing to kick me out?
10. Is this a church I’m willing to join “as is” with enthusiasm and faith in God?
On pages 88-89 Harris talks about not having any good churches in your area, and being prayerful for the churches nearby. He also says that after a while you may need to pray about moving to an area where you can find a good church and grow spiritually, since we will often move for a job, why not for a better church? He also mentions that is moving is not an option then supplementing your spiritual life with good podcast, videos, and books.
In chapter six Harris lays out what we can do to redeem our Sundays. He gives us a plan of how we should plan our day around the service. He tells us that before the meeting we should prepare our hearts. He goes on to say,
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 morning with no spiritual preparation? (Harris, 95)
So this book has been a great read. If you have ever had a problem in looking for a local church or want to know how to love your church better check it out. By law I have received a free copy of this book for review, from Multnomah Press. 
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