April 19th, 2009

I might have a new favorite book.  I don’t know – I haven’t read the whole thing.  It shouldn’t take long, because it’s short.

But I love the title, Stop Dating the Church.  And I love the subtitle, “Fall in Love with the Family of God.”

I also love the first chapter, “Can this relationship be saved?”  The author, Joshua Harris, says that many Christians today treat churches like they treat relationships.  We are a society that prefers to keep our options open before making a commitment.  If we ever make a commitment.  And once we make a commitment, we are quicker than we’ve ever been to break it.

That’s not an indictment of everyone, of course.  Nor is it a defense of anyone.  It’s just a reminder that collectively in our culture we like to date and we don’t like to commit.

Harris says that we treat the church the same way.  He tells the story of his friend, Nathan, who attended two churches every Sunday.  He liked the music at one church, so he started there.  Then he left and grabbed an Egg McMuffin on the way to the second church, where he liked the preaching better.  He was two-timing the church!

Church-daters, Harris says, can be spotted with three characteristics.  First, their attitude toward church is me-centered.  What can your church do for me?  Second, they are passionately independent.  There is little investment in relationships and ministry.  Third, church-daters are often critical.  They readily notice and point out flaws.

To be sure, the church of Jesus Christ is flawed.  But Jesus called us his “bride,” and he gave his life for us not just in spite of who we are but because of what we can become.  He sees us in our purity and in our possibility. (Ephesians 5:25,27)



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