The past few years have seen a resurgence in conversation about the Church, specifically whether Christians should be lone ranger Christians or be members of a local church. This is a conversation I’m actively involved in especially because in my own area, I’ve been told by several Christians at coffee shops that they have no need to attend a local church regularly or if they do that they don’t need to be a member of one. These types of conversations are not new but rather very familiar to me. A new book The Unfinished Church by Rob Bentz has recently come out that seeks to challenge the idea, “I love Jesus but hate the Church”.
The book has three parts. In part one the author set the foundation by defining the church in chapter one and then explaining how the local church is a redeemed community. In part two the author moves to describe what a local church should look like by the way people love, encourage, serve and well in unity with one another in chapters three through seven. In chapter eight the author concludes the book with help the reader understand how believers grow to be like Jesus in community with one another.
As I read this excellent new book what stood out to me was the clarity of the author’s argument from the Word of God and his pastoral tone. People often times in my experience struggle with loving the Church because they’ve been hurt by the church. Such people often times have unrealistic expectations of the church such as the idea that everyone needs to have it all together even when they don’t. A love for Jesus leads to a love for the local church as the author points out. Loving Jesus leads to loving His Church which is why Jesus said that the world will know us by our love for one another (John 13:35). One other struggle that people often have related to this particular issue is they don’t see it in the Bible, but when you ask them if they read the Bible at all, they tell you they don’t. The New Testament epistles were all written to local congregations gathering in house churches. They all had clear guidelines from the Apostles to establish elders in order to have oversight over the flock so they could be cared for and ministered to (among many other aspects of ministry Pastors have toward their flock).
The Unfinished Church is an excellent book written to help those disenchanted with the church to rediscover its importance for the Christian life by examining the biblical, theological and historical reasons why Christ’s followers should embrace gospel-centered community- even when it’s hard. Whether you’re struggling today with loving Jesus and the Church or not, there are many people today who are no longer interested in doing the Christian life within the local church. I highly recommend this book and pray the Lord uses it powerful to awaken a love for Jesus and the local church.
Authors: Rob Bentz
Publisher: Crossway (2014)