Why We Love the Church. In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Ted Kluck and Kevin DeYoung
Have you ever read a book that you know is important but it’s not where you are in life? Well this book was like that for me. I made myself finish it, not because it was not good, but because the contents are not directly related to me here in Thailand, or at least our church in Khon Kaen in 2009. However, I was glad to receive their point of view. I was rebuked in some areas and I am glad for that.
If you are looking for a book to add some balance to all the books on why some people are leaving the church (the organized church) then this book is for you. Another title could have been Why ‘They’ Don’t Love the Church. Are you cynical and jaded and just fed up with the way people are “doing” or “having” church? Would you rather just hang out with your favorite buddy at Starbucks or the local golf coarse or family deer stand and maybe talk about Jesus and call it church? Do you find that you are constantly critical of the music, the preaching, the music, the lack of evangelism, discipleship, and community involvement of your church, and the music? Actually, they don’t write too much about the music. We will leave the worship wars to the musicians and choir members and sneak off to Sunday school, small groups, or lunch and talk about how we need Jesus which will lead to worship, or at least the big game from the day before. Are you tired of your pastor wanting to talk about doctrine, sin, and holiness? Do you wish your pastor was? Kluck and DeYoung have devoured so many books written by the disgruntled camp and have written a response (at least that’s the way I read it). I did find myself growing tired of the constant responding, but that is what they were purposely doing. I was desiring a read on why we should love the church more than why some don’t with their valid issues but improper application to them. With that said, this book has a place in many circles and is a great read/tool for the debate. If you are desiring to read a book that is not reactive this is not for you. As a matter of fact, if you just became aware that some people are writing books encouraging people to leave their churches and how most churches are just bad, then this book is not for you. Don’t even get your mind thinking on these things(at least past this post, sorry).
But, if you are a professing Christian and if you find yourself not wanting to gather with a body of believers for worship, discipleship, preaching, good works, missions, discipline and fellowship– whether it be in a huge building or in your living room, then walk yourself through this book with humility due to the possibility that something could indeed be in need of perspective shifting within your “if I ruled the world” thinking. Maybe only my college room-mate and I would speak in ways of how everything should be. These times would often end with “if we ruled the world” as we smiled, regained some reality and went to the GC&SU Chic-fil-a to start it all back up again or just laugh. I still do this…do you Shane (say “if I ruled the world”, not go to Chic-fil-a at GC&SU)? Funny thing is, as I have gotten older I am glad I don’t rule the world, I will be satisfied if I can just serve and lead my family well.
I would encourage all pastors to read this. There are many things for the church to learn from the debate.
I think they should have defined “religion” earlier than later in the book for clarity. Maybe they did.
If you are confused with the title of this post, I am not talking about me.
Endorsements from guys much smarter than I or me.
“An attitude of indifference to the church has become tragically common within American Christianity. As a result, many people fail to make a solid commitment to congregational life and responsibility. The New Testament is clear – to love Christ is to love the church. Kevin and Ted provide a powerful word of correction, offering compelling arguments and a vision of church life that is not only convincing, but inspirational. This book will deepen your love of the church – and for Christ.”
R. Albert Mohler, President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“If you’ve written off the church, I dare you to read this book.”
Joshua Harris, author of Stop Dating the Church
“Jesus loves the church. Yes, the church is imperfect, and we have made mistakes. But if we love Jesus, then we will love what Jesus loves. This book moves us to a thrilling portrait and future of what the church that Jesus loves and builds can look like and the hope we can bring to the world.”
Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church
“Well, they’ve done it again. The two guys who should be emergent, but aren’t, have followed up their first best seller with what I hope and pray will be a second. In Why We Love the Church DeYoung and Kluck have given us a penetrating critique of church-less Christianity and a theologically rigorous, thoroughly biblical, occasionally hilarious, but equally serious defense of the centrality of the church in God’s redemptive purpose. In spite of her obvious flaws, DeYoung and Kluck really do love the church, because they love the Christ whose body it is. You don’t have to agree with everything they say to appreciate and profit from this superbly written and carefully constructed book. This is a great read and I recommend it with unbridled enthusiasm.”
Sam Storms, senior pastor, Bridgway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“If you’re looking for reality, authenticity, and honesty, you’ve found it in this book. Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, shrewd observers and faithful practitioners, have once again written a book that is like the best of foods – good tasting and good for you. Their style is easy, creative, and funny. They are theologically faithful, fresh, and insightful. They are sympathetic with many concerns and even objections to much in the church today, yet are finally defensive, in the best sense of the word. They are careful critics of the too-popular critics of the church. They are lovers of Christ and His church. I pray this book will help you love Christ’s church better, too.”
Mark Dever, author of 9 Marks of a Healthy Church
“Two young men, a pastor and a layman, here critique the criticisms of the institutional church that are fashionable today. Bible-centered, God-centered, and demonstrably mature, they win the argument hands down. As I read, I wanted to stand up and cheer.”
J. I. Packer, professor of Theology , Regent College
“If Jesus thought the church was worth dying for, it may just be worth living in. While not ignoring the sins of the church, DeYoung and Kluck remind us why church bashing is often shallow, and why the institutional church remains the most authentic place to encounter the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Mark Galli, senior managing editor, Christianity Today