We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don’t want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We’re not into commitment â€” we only want to date the church.Â Is this what God wants for us?
InÂ Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God, bestselling authorÂ Joshua Harris says no, God’s purpose for Christians involves a deep commitment to a local church. This commitment involves far more than showing up on Sunday to sing, chat, and listen to a sermon. Josh says that in order for us to have the kind of relationship with a local church that God intended, we must first see the Church (universal church) as God sees it.
This is the third book by Josh Harris that I’ve read. One of my favorite things about his books is that his writing style is so conversational and unassuming. I feel when I pick up one of his books as if I’ve sat down with a friend for a cup of coffee and encouragement sprinkled with confession. He uses a variety of examples, but many of them come from his own life – his own shortcomings and mistakes. And yet, his books are always grounded in scripture and demonstrate a satisfaction in Christ that many only secretly dream of.
In Stop Dating the Church!, Josh breaks down the arguments for church dating and explains why God desires that we have the close relationships with other Christians found only in a local church. Like with any commandment of God, there are real, tangible benefits to obedience. Commitment to a local church takes effort, but the benefits far outweigh that effort. Unfortunately, many of us are too committed outside of the church to have a real relationship with the other members of our local body.
In the book, Josh offers real advice on how to commit to the church and what commitment looks like. He also discusses choosing a church, including what things are a matter of taste and what things are vital to a healthy church family – and, by extension, a healthy Christian. He then talks about how to make the most of Sunday, including the church service and the rest of the day.
I highly recommend that you read this book, whether or not you think you might qualify as a church dater. I found the book convicting, but also encouraging and insightful. It’s helped me to look at my own relationship with my church in a new light and I am looking forward to applying more of Josh’s suggestions.
One word of caution: I am linking above to the print edition of Stop Dating the Church!. The book’s content is fantastic, and what I’ve seen of the print edition’s quality is excellent, but I read the Kindle edition and was very disappointed in the production quality of that edition. It appears that they took the print edition, converted it to the Kindle format, and posted it without any proofreading. There are numerous cases where words that needed to be broken across lines in the print edition are still hyphenated in the Kindle edition, or where characters that apparently didn’t convert properly are either missing or display strangely in the Kindle edition. Having read this one Kindle edition from Multnomah Books, I would be hesitant to buy another Kindle edition from the publisher. By the way, if you’re from Multnomah and are looking for someone to do Kindle conversions, feel free to get in touch.