Joshua Harris’ new book is entitled “Why Church Matters; Discovering Your Place in the Family of God” and is a re-print of his 2004 work “Stop Dating the Church”. “Why Church Matters” takes on the subject of the importance of and the need for commitment to the local church on behalf of each Christ-follower. As a pastor, I can appreciate the passion and enthusiasm for the local church with which Harris writes. He begins by stating that belonging to a local church does not save you. Instead, a person who has been saved by Christ should attach themselves to a local body of believers for encouragement, care, and service. Harris also writes that when a believer does not commit to a church, everyone is cheated. He says that “you cheat yourself, you cheat a church community, and you cheat your world.”
Two chapters stood out to me. In chapter three, Harris writes about the reasons why we need the church. He says on p.44, “This is why gathering to worship with other believers in a local church is so irreplaceable. It can’t be substituted with a great devotional time, a lively Bible study with friends, a meditative nature hike, or a live TV church service. When the church is together to worship and to hear God’s Word preached, nourishment and encouragement occur that can’t happen quite the same anywhere else. Our corporate worship edifies and strengthens us and glorifies God in ways nothing else can.” He also makes note of, in his opinion, three reasons why people stay away from church. He cites Self-Centeredness (what’s in it for me?), Prideful Independence (I can grow as a believer on my own), and a Critical Spirit (the church is broken). I believe chapter 5 is the most meaningful and beneficial chapter of the entire 120 page book. Entitled “Choosing Your Church”, Harris of ten important questions to consider before joining a church. Several include “Is this a church where God’s Word is faithfully taught?”, “Is this a church committed to reaching non-Christians with the gospel?”, and “Is this a church where members are challenged to serve?” These questions possess great potential. I believe them to be a great framework by which one can make a informed and meaningful decision about a church home. These are the questions I hope a potential member would ask before joining the church I pastor.
” Why Church Matters” is a good book. It is light, engaging, smartly-written, easy to read, and scriptural. If you are looking for an in-depth study of ecclesiology, go somewhere else. The only negative for me is that I would like to have seen certain areas and topics further expanded. Included is a study guide covering each chapter which lends this book to be a great small-group resource. This would be a great book for the church-skeptic or the believer who has been hurt by the church and may be considering giving up on the body of Christ.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”