I was excited to get into this book (which was previously released as Stop Dating The Church) after reading Harris' other release, Dug Down Deep (which I thoroughly enjoyed). I have to admit, though, that I was a little disappointed with this book. While it has some very important concepts, it is very basic and probably not for the long-time Christian. Here is Harris talking about his book via YouTube:
Here's my review:
The basic idea of the book is that Christians have lost the meaning and importance of being connected with and involved in their local church. The Apostle Paul compared the union of marriage with Christ's love for His bride - the church. So if the church matters so much to Jesus, why are so many people just dating her? The rest of the book is about how and why Christians should go about increasing their commitment to their local church.
What I Liked:
- The concept of dating or being married to the church. The image is powerful and really helps to highlight Harris' point about the nature, depth, and commitment Christians should have to their local church as a reflection of (and obedience to) their relationship with Christ.
- Harris is biblically sound yet very easy to read. His doctrine is right on as he asserts that church must be founded on the Gospel, resulting in a congregation that lives their lives on it, producing good fruit. The book, however, wasn't bogged down with big words or complexities - both a positive and negative - making it very easy to read through quickly.
- Chapter 5 - Ten Things That Matter Most for Choosing a Church. This was the best section of the book by far, as Harris explained what you should be looking for when selecting your church. It was helpful to consider my own church in this chapter, and I found it to be very accurate.
- The personal stories. In his usual style, Harris' personal stories throughout the book make it interesting, come alive, and express the heart of his points very well. They're real, honest, and engaging.
What I Didn't Like:
- There's definitely no "fluff" here. While the concept of being married to the church is critical and Harris points this out very decisively throughout the book, it's a pretty basic presentation and mostly suited for new Christians or Christians who haven't been attending a local church for whatever reason.
- Lack of references. While there were some good quotations here, they were mostly found in one or two chapters and otherwise very sparse. I, personally, always appreciate when an author includes others' literary works or ideas for me to check out later. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of that here.
- It's hard for me to write this one, but I honestly wish the book was shorter. I think the points could've been made successfully in a smaller book, resulting in a more concise, to-the-point approach.
- UPDATE: I'm adding one more point here. After studying Ephesians recently, I began to realize my main problem with this book: it didn't highlight the larger purpose of the church in God's redemptive plan in history, which all Christians get to participate in. This is why church really matters - not merely as a gift from God to us, but as a preview of God's eternal plan for His redeemed creation.
For more information on Joshua Harris, visit his website and his church's website.