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Why bother with church? Perfect Paperback – March 1, 2016
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"Sam Allberry has a God-given gift for presenting potentially complex topics in a way that is biblically faithful, skillfully concise, pastorally wise, and culturally relevant. Brimming with Christ-exalting passion and practical instruction, this brief book ably addresses many questions people are asking about the church while stirring the affections of those who believe the church is central to God's activity in the earth today."
"We couldn't be more excited about this book. Especially in our day when people look for reasons to reject the church, this book is a necessary encouragement. Sam expertly engages readers with what the Bible says, and brings the truth home through with illustrations that stick with you. We're eager to see church members, ministers, and cross-cultural workers benefit from Why Bother With Church?"
- Dave and Gloria Furman - pastor, Redeemer Church of Dubai; author, "The Pastor's Wife" and "Missional Motherhood"
"Many in our day say that they like Jesus, but not the church. But is it possible to belong to the Head without being part of his visible body? Obvious in practical importance, Why Bother With Church? is a wise, basic, and winsome invitation to embrace the riches of communion with Christ's new society."
- Michael Horton, Professor of Theology, Westminster Seminary California
"Your church is a miracle, says Sam Allberry. If you didn't know that, this book will help you understand why. New believers and old believers with conflicted feelings about the church will especially benefit. Read to learn how to love Christ's people better and worship God more."
About the Author
Sam trained at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and is Associate Minister at a church in Maidenhead, UK. He's written several books including Lifted and Is God Anti-Gay?
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Does he succeed? Largely, yes. The reminders from Scripture that the church is an outpost, a family, an embassy, and the bride of Christ, certainly excited me about the importance of church. "Lacking a church is not equivalent to lacking a decent supermarket or movie theatre; it is like lacking a hospital or a source of water. It is an utter necessity.” Necessary indeed, and also precious: "If you want to understand how committed Jesus is to the church, here’s your answer. He doesn’t just create it and let it be. He marries it.”
Along the way, Allberry answers questions such as: Why do I need church? How is church run? How do I survive church? As to that last question, he diagnoses what may lie behind someone’s boredom in church:
The focus is not primarily on what we do or don’t get out of attending our church, but on what we can give to others. Church is not there for your entertainment, as a consumer, but for you and others to find encouragement, as a contributor. If our “boring-ometer” for church is based on whether we sang songs we liked, or whether the sermon was relevant enough or short enough, or scratching where we have been itching this week, then it could be a sign that we’re going to church for our sake and not for the sake of others.
But the dominant note of the book is boredom with church but excitement for it. And so he concludes
Why bother with church? Because it’s the most important show in town. What goes on when a church meets is far grander than we tend to realise.
It’s God’s family.
It’s God’s embassy in this world.
It’s God’s way of preaching to the spiritual world.
It is, amazingly, Jesus’ bride, who will live with him in the next world.
And, in God’s great mercy, through faith in Christ, you get to be a part of it and to be part of the way God builds it. And if you remember this when you get up next Sunday, you’ll find yourself asking: Why on earth would I not bother with church?
I’m always amazed when I bump into Christians who live in consistent disobedience to Jesus. I understand stumbling and falling into sin. I struggle with sin as much as anyone else. Consistent disobedience is a different issue. Why would a Christian, for example, refuse to be baptized when Jesus commands it? The logical conclusion is that Jesus isn’t really Lord in this person’s life. Similarly, church involvement for the disciple of Jesus isn’t an elective. (I realize that there are circumstances like poor health that can keep people from attending church.) Christians are commanded to gather. The early church was devoted to gathering. There is no way to be a productive part of the body of Christ without gathering. How can one love Christ and yet not love the church He loves? How can Christians love Christ but not His work, the church He is building? Allberry builds a brief but cogent case for church attendance.
One of the great benefits of this book is that it helps the believer who has struggled with bad church experiences wade back into church. In other words, Allberry doesn’t just beat one over the head with Biblical exhortation, he graciously recognizes that church can be painful for a number of reasons, and he then gives practical steps that enable Christians to live faithfully with their Lord by again being a part of the body of Christ.
The book is much more than a prod to attend church. In a brief but effective way it covers most questions that people might have about the church. It is truly an introduction to the church. I highly recommend this stellar volume.