Category: Church

Book Review – Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive

Churches are dying every day. That isn’t news you’ll read in the latest issue of Time, national or local newspapers but the fact is many churches are dying every day. Many pastors are leaving the ministry every month and every year. What is the Church to do? Should we give up and close our doors? These are difficult questions and difficult issues to address. Thankfully Dr. Thom Rainer an experienced Pastor, researcher and popular author and blogger has written Autospy of a Deceased Church 12 Ways To Keep Yours Alive to help Christians think through these and other issues. I’ve spent my entire life in the Pacific Northwest, specifically the majority of it in Washington State (26 years) and almost seven years now in Idaho. During this time, I’ve seen many churches close their doors for a variety of reasons but the biggest one has been because of failing to heed to biblical orthodoxy and proclaim the gospel. In his book Dr. Rainer looks at the slow erosion that occurs as churches grow older and move away from the gospel, the past as a hero, local churches refusing to reach out to the community, budget issues, churches that focus on preferences, failing to keep the pastor long term, a lack of prayer, no clear process and facility issues in part one of the book. In the final section of...

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Book Review – The Unfinished Church

Have you ever heard someone say, “I love Jesus, but I hate His church?” Let’s be honest, the church has done some hurtful things to the world in the name of Jesus. Perhaps you’ve been hurt, either in word or deed or by someone at church, or you have painful memories of something that was said at church and for that reason you think it is easier to quit going to church than ever step foot inside one again. The truth is, the Church is made up of sinners who have been forgiven by the grace of God. Sinners hurt other people with their sin, even Christian sinners saved by the grace of God. In his new book The Unfinished Church, Rob Bentz reminds believers that God is building His church and the Church is unfinished. Because it is not yet finished, the Church is not perfect. Bentz says, “Few believers truly understand the significance of God’s church, what God is doing in and through his people” (pg. 18). We live in a fast paced world that focuses only on what is happening around them. Many times we cannot see the forest for the trees. When this happens people tend to focus only on sin in the camp rather than sin in their own lives with the result that they miss God’s redemptive purpose and thus the need for...

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Book Review – The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ

While one of the most encouraging trends in recent years has been the resurgence in conversation on the gospel, what has been needed is a book that looks at how the gospel impacts the local church and it’s culture. Thankfully such a book exists now in The Gospel: How The Church Portrays The Beauty Of Christ by seasoned Pastor Ray Ortlund. This book aims to help Christians apply the gospel to relationships in our churches and make the glory of Christ visible in the world today. The first three chapters look at the gospel for you, the church and for all of life. The book then moves to look at what a gospel-shaped life looks at within the local church. As I read this book several things stood out—first, Dr. Ortlund truly believes the gospel is the power of God and the local church is the hope of the world. It’s one thing to believe that in theory but another to believe it in practice. As you read this book you will see that Dr. Ortlund not only believes the gospel but models the gospel. This is why this book is so powerful, challenging and convicting. I’ve been in churches where we proclaimed we believe the gospel only to turn around in practice to undermine our profession. As Dr. Ortlund rightly notes, “A church with the truth of the...

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Book Review – Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion

One of the central issues in the Church and one that we here at Servants of Grace are passionate about is the nature, purpose, and mission of the Church. We spent a whole month looking at this issue and will continue to look at it in the future as the need arises. At the heart of their book Why We Love The Church: In Praise of Institutions And Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck is the idea that Christians are to love Jesus and the Church. At first that may not sound like an issue Christians should be concerned with. After all, Christians love Jesus and should love their wives. Yet, we live in a time where view institutions with suspicion, especially when it comes to the issue of telling people what they ought to believe and how they should live. In their book the authors take on contemporary ideas about the Church such as “church at Starbucks” or church on the golf course. The book covers a lot of ground including the mission of he Church, getting back to Church, being hurt by the church, heresy, unity in the Church, definition what the Church is, loving the Church and the authors hope and prayer for the Church. This is one of the most interesting and enjoyable theological books I’ve read in quite some time. Ted Kluck...

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Book Review – I Am A Church Member: Discovering The Attitude that Makes the Difference

One of the central issues of our day when it comes to the doctrine of the Church is interestingly enough, church membership. Many Christians today struggle with the idea of becoming or even being members of the Church. For some Christians just merely attending Church is okay with them and they don’t care to be bothered with becoming a member. Having grown up in the Church, I’ve seen both approaches to this issue but there is a better way. Church membership is vital because the New Testament epistles were written in response to Christians gathering together in local churches under the authority and care of pastors and elders. Church membership is important not because it takes into account how many people are actually part of the Church thus affecting how money will be allocated in terms of a budget, but because church membership represents responsibility ordained by God. It is in the context of the local Church where Christians are to one another each other. The over fifty one another passages in the New Testament make no sense apart from being a member of a local Church under qualified and godly biblical eldership. While the topic of church membership in recent years has thankfully risen to the fore, and we’ve discussed it extensively from a biblical-theological framework on Servants of Grace, a new book by Dr. Thom Rainer, President...

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