If you were to stop someone on the street and ask them what the first thing that came to their mind was when you say “Christian,” the top three answers would be Jesus, cross, and church. And why not? Two thousand years ago Jesus came to earth, died on a cross, and established the church to carry His good news to the world.
I would also contend that as soon as Jesus feet disappeared through the clouds as He ascended to heaven the arguments about how the church should be structured began. And two thousand years later, the quest for the “authentic” way to do church continues.
Unfortunately, it’s popular today to say that church sucks. A growing number of people in the church will not only agree with this, but gladly tell you why. Really. So what are we to do about it?
Some say we should throw the ship that is the modern church out and build a new one based on what God originally intended before it was contaminated by “pagan rituals.” Others believe that we are on the right ship, just our heading needs to be adjusted to get us headed to port.
In “Why We Love The Church” Pastor Kevin DeYoung and coauthor Ted Kluck take a stand against what they believe is an “anti-church” movement and make the case for why the institution of the church is not only necessary to the Christian faith, but is what God designed from the beginning.
The first half of “Why We Love the Church” is a critique of the home/missional church movement and why they believe so many are leaving the traditional church for these other church models. Their emphasis is that the main objective of the church is not self-help, social justice, and casual group meetings, but to preach the Gospel and make disciples.
In the latter half, DeYoung and Kluck build a scriptural basis for institutional church. The home church movement tries to get away from the church offices and structure for a more pliable and casual form. Yes the disciples and early church met in homes, but Jesus clearly set church structure in order when “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11-12)”
”Why We Love The Church” is an excellent rebuttal to the “leave the church” movement, but I think too much of the book was aimed toward the negative. Instead of focusing on why they love the church, DeYoung and Kluck use nearly half the book explaining why they think George Barna (author of “Revolution” and “Pagan Christianity”), Frank Viola (coauthor of “Pagan Christianity”), and the home church movement have it wrong. It’s the equivalent of trying to sell me a new Ford by telling me why I shouldn’t buy a Chevy.
The next portion is devoted to “why the church?” Here DeYoung and Kluck show the biblical basis for the institutional church. Once again this information is vital to understanding why we have church in a building with deacons, elders, and pastors, but it still avoids why they love it.
While they admit that the church with four walls has plenty of room for improvement, they show how it’s the body of which Christ is the head. It’s not just a place we show up to once a week and socialize over a cup of coffee and a doughnut, it’s the place “…you plant your flag and say, ‘This is where I’m a Christian.’(p146)”
Finally, in the last two chapters, we finally see why they love the church. If you want to skip all the history and argument for the church as it is today, jump straight to these.
The first is a letter from Kluck to his son Tristan. It’s a passionate plea for his son to see past some of the nonsense that is bound to happen in churches full of imperfect people, and to remember why God established a church. It’s the place we go to worship together, to learn together, to do life together. It’s a place where we find family, and not always the lovey perfect family, but the messy get your hands dirty with each others family. It’s a place and a people we are committed to.
“Why We Love The Church” is an excellent read, and something I recommend to gain a better understanding of why we do church the way we do, but maybe a more fitting title would be “Why We’re Not Home Churchers,” similar to DeYoung and Kluck’s first book, “Why We’re Not Emergent.”
As for me, I love the church too.
Here is the link to their website Why We Love The Church where you can read a sample chapter and download the study guide.