Thursday, February 18, 2010
Book Review: Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck
There have been many books written lately on people leaving the church. It is a disturbing trend that makes me wonder if they are just leaving the church, or also leaving the faith. I find it hard to separate the two. I cannot imagine a life without either. Thank God he has given us fellow believers to travel this life together. The support and encouragement I receive from these saints is truly invaluable.
This is one of the reasons why these men have written this book. They are both concerned about the growing number of people who have become dissatisfied with "institutional church". They address many of the concerns these people have and tell why they disagree and love the church, in spite of its flaws: "Do we assume police officers are worthless because we still have crime or parents are pointless because kids still do stupid things? Not at all. Why then do we assume that the existence of an unmet need or ongoing tragedy in the world is unassailable proof of the church's failure?" (Kevin DeYoung)
They ask four questions for critics of the church that I believe are valid. The answers to these questions would help us understand these church-leavers and why they are so "anti-church":
1. Are you rejecting the church or the faith?
2. Are you trying to have your cake and eat it too? DeYoung says: "They want church unity and decry all our denominations, but fail to see the irony in the fact that they have left to do their own thing because they can't find a single church that can satisfy them."
3. Are you making an idol out of authenticity?
4. Are you repeating the mistakes of previous generations?
(DeYoung) "It's more than a little ironic that the same folks who want the church to ditch the phony, plastic persona and become a haven for broken, imperfect sinners are ready to leave the church when she is broken, imperfect, and sinful."
Yes, I can understand how some people have been hurt by the church and have legitimate gripes about how others have treated them badly. But I think maybe they are trying to "throw the baby out with the bathwater." Just because you have had bad experiences doesn't mean you should abandon the church altogether. We have our strengths as well as our weaknesses. And I think our strengths greatly outweigh our weaknesses, because our strength comes from the Lord himself. As DeYoung says: "It's easy for the church to be blind to her failings. But it's also easy and borderline slanderous to constantly berate the church for all her failures as if she cared for no one, helped no one, and made no difference for anyone anywhere."
Maybe we have more of a problem here than simply a dissatisfaction with how the church "does church" or the fact that we have been hurt by someone in the church. Maybe "it's possible our boredom and restlessness has less to do with the church and its doctrines and more to do with a growing coldness toward the love of God displayed in the sacrifice of His Son for our sins." (DeYoung)
Just so you don't think that the book is full of negatism against the critics of the church (it's not at all), I wouild like to give you one more quote from the book. It is a plea to those who are contemplating leaving or who have already left the church:
"If I could leave you with one thought, it's this: Go. Go to church. Don't go for the coffee, the presentations, the music, or the amenities. Don't even go for the feelings you may or may not get when you go because, no offense, these feelings may or may not be trustworthy most of the time. Go for the gospel. Go for the preaching. Go to be near God's Word." (Ted Kluck)
I recommend this book for anyone who is concerned about the church. I also think it would benefit those who have left. Read it. Answer the four questions. Give the church another try. Give God a try. He may surprise you!