Monday, June 28, 2010

Why We Love the Church


Central Heights Church has the dubious distinction of being the church where the floor collapsed during a Starfield concert almost 2 and 1/2 years ago. It happens to also be the place that I have called my "home church" for the past 34 years. Yesterday was a banner day for us as we celebrated together in the repaired Worship Center for the first time since April 2008.

I was not an official "greeter", but I chose to stand at one of the entrances and welcome folks. We have not all been together in one place at one time for so many months that I felt a great longing to re-connect with fellow worshippers and to celebrate with as many people as possible. Handshakes and hugs marked our mutual sense of thanksgiving and joy.

Very appropriately, Why We Love the Church by Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck has been my current non-fiction favourite for the past few weeks. These are the same two guys that wrote Why We're Not Emergent a couple of years ago. On the back of the book, Josh Harris says, "If you've written off the church, I dare you to read this book." It is a refreshing and well researched answer to the multitude of church bashing books these days. Easy to read. even the footnotes are fascinating. I know that I love Christ's Body, His Bride, but sometimes I can't articulate why. These authors have no difficulties doing so! They have obviously thought long and hard about why the organized institution of "church" is valid, necessary, credible and deserving of loyalty. They site historical and Biblical sources as well as contemporary theologians like John Stott to support their stance that church is NOT just two guys on the golf course or at Starbucks discussing spiritual matters. Their aim is to present a biblical, realistic and Christ-centered doctrine of the church. Let me quote just a bit to give you a taste.

"It's more than a little ironic that the same folks who want the church to ditch the phoney, plastic persona and become a haven for broken, imperfect sinners are ready to leave the church when she is broken, imperfect and sinful." The authors also remind us, that contrary to popular belief, the early church was not always a perfect, power-filled, beautific utopia. Every sin and fault-line evident in present day churches were already in the churches that Paul addressed: sexual immorality, hyprocrisy, gossip, factions, heresy and money issues.

Deyoung and Kluck are not naive or in denial. They encourage us to face and deal with our faults head-on but they also remind us not to cower under undeserved criticism.

I join J. I. Packer in wanting to cheer after I read every word of this excellent and timely treatise on church - mine, yours, ours.

Becky

4 comments:

  1. How do Deyoung and Kluck define (the) church? More importantly, how do they approach the tension between the Church as the entire body and the church as each individual institution (like Central Heights)? Are all churches created equal? How these elements are dealt with seems to be important in any approach to ecclesiology.

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  2. I think that the simplest definition that the authors would use is: "The church, as the elect people of God, is both organism and organization. The church is a maturing, living thing."

    The authors stress the importance of a regular, formal assembly of God's people worshiping together and hearing God's Word proclaimed together. They eagerly discuss and address the many criticisms and issues raised by the church-leavers and bashers.

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  3. Thanks for the response.

    A group of men and/or women are together worshiping (however that may be defined) and sharing the W/word in a coffeeshop, can we describe that as Church? Or would the authors object to this?
    Also, if the gospel ceases to be preached does that place of "worship" cease to be a church?

    I think regular and formal assembly is imperative. I also think that there are bad churches that must be left and closed, because they give a bad name to the Church!

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  4. The exact questions that you are asking are the ones discussed in the book! Even if you don't agree with everything the authors say, give it a read. It is so interesting for me to interact with you because the issues you are raising are so relevant and echoed by so many. I would definitely agree that there are some bad, even toxic churches. Branding is dangerous however, because what one may call hazardous, another might call Spirit-filled. My own church has just gone thru an extensive, months-long process of re-focusing to ensure that we are on track with God's plan for us.

    I've drunk coffee in some simply dreadful, rat-infested coffee shops when I lived overseas, but it just makes me choose more carefully next time! Anything of value, of beauty, of worth, is going to be corrupted, sidetracked, diminished and subjected to attack by the destroyer. Especially the Bride of Christ.

    Let's talk more after you've read the book. Thanks very much for your comments. BW

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