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Why We Love The Church [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   234
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2009
Publisher   Moody Publishers
ISBN  0802458378  
EAN  9780802458377  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Whether you're committed, disgruntled, hesitant, or disconnected from the body of Christ, this passionate resource will help you renew your love for the church in all its real-life guts, gaffes, and glory. DeYoung and Kluck's valuable resource provides a solid reminder of the biblical mandate to participate in our local congregations. Relevant and encouraging!

Publishers Description
This book presents the case for loving the local church. It paints a picture of the local church in all its biblical and real life guts, gaffes, and glory in an effort to edify local congregations and entice the disaffected back to the fold. It also provides a solid biblical mandate to love and be part of the body of Christ and counteract the "leave church" books that trumpet rebellion and individual felt needs.
"Why We Love the Church" is written for four kinds of people--the Committed, the Disgruntled, the Waffling & the Disconnected.

Buy Why We Love The Church by Kevin Deyoung, Ted Kluck, Jessica C. Rockswold, Nick Ahrens, Kevin Pereira, Scott Preissler, Diane Thompson & Steve Thompson from our Church Supplies store - isbn: 9780802458377 & 0802458378

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More About Kevin Deyoung, Ted Kluck, Jessica C. Rockswold, Nick Ahrens, Kevin Pereira, Scott Preissler, Diane Thompson & Steve Thompson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! KEVIN DEYOUNG is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, located near Michigan State University. He serves as a council member at The Gospel Coalition and blogs on TGC's DeYoung, Restless and Reformed. Kevin is Chancellor's Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. He has authored several books, including Just Do Something, The Hole in Our Holiness, Crazy Busy, Taking God at His Word, and The Biggest Story. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, and Tabitha.

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Trying to force a shoe that doesn't fit...  May 18, 2010
I haven't written a formal book review in quite a while, but felt compelled to concerning the book "Why We Love The Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion" by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. The editorial description reads as follows:

Why We Love the Church presents the case for loving the local church. It paints a picture of the local church in all its biblical and real life guts, gaffes, and glory in an effort to edify local congregations and entice the disaffected back to the fold. It also provides a solid biblical mandate to love and be part of the body of Christ and counteract the "leave church" books that trumpet rebellion and individual felt needs.

I would be curious to know just how many of those the authors label "disaffected" who have read the book have been "enticed back into the fold." When it comes to "institutional church" within the sense that most Westerners understand it, there is no doubt that God works through it. However, many times the good is enemy of the best, and I believe the organic church model is the best of the good-versus-best scenario. Now that you know where I'm coming from, I'll get onto the book review and some of the issues I had with the way the authors were posing their arguments.

First, some general observations about the book and the authors... DeYoung and Kluck's previous contribution to Christian literary works was "Why We're Not Emergent". I didn't read that book, but basically it's a book about how the emergent movement is wrong and they're right. They followed up that work with the current one about how those who seek Jesus outside of the "four walls" are wrong and that their way is right. I will give the authors credit in that they actually talk about this in the book and how they were reluctant to do two books like that back-to-back, but they wrote them nonetheless. I understand where they are coming from in their desire to write the book, but unfortunately they write off the faith of others as somehow weaker than their own because of the context in which they worship.

In addition to the write off of faith outside the institution, it would seem the authors think they have it all figured out on the type of person who they would label a "leaver." The authors begin the introduction with a Mad Lib that breaks down all the reasons why people "leave the church." (at least, of course, all of the reasons they think someone would leave). I'm sure there are some who would fit the bill for their Mad Lib, but that's a shoe that doesn't fit me, and as such I felt it was a tad smarmy and arrogant to think that they had everyone, including me, pegged. I think they would have been better off not trying to fit everyone into their neat little categories. That does a good job of keeping those agreeing with you buying your books so they can continue to feel like part of the club, but it's a poor way to start a book by insinuating to the readers that you already have them figured out.

Before I get into some of the specifics of the book, I'd like to make one last general observation in their taking to task of the book "Pagan Christianity" by Frank Viola and George Barna. Many of their arguments fall to pieces when viewed through the light of Viola's follow-up work, "Reimagining Church," which was released in 2008. I can't help but believe it is no matter of coincidence that the authors chose to make their arguments based on an incomplete picture of organic church (at least in terms of their references to Viola's work) so as to make their arguments appear more valid and strong. Pagan Christianity explores the roots of contemporary practices, whereas Reimagining Church gives a fuller of picture of the vibrancy of life as the Church within an organic setting in today's world. In a way, it was as if the authors were saying, "Look at this rotten apple," even though they were pointing to an orange.

Getting into the main chapters of the book, I'll first comment on some points of agreement with the authors. I'm not a fan of the "Gospel According to _____________" type books -- be it according to Starbucks, The Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, etc. So on that point we can agree. I also don't think two guys golfing on a Sunday morning talking about football is "church" (not that there is anything wrong with golfing or talking about football). We do however need to "be the church" in those places and be about Kingdom business seeking to do what we "see the Father doing." I also agree with the nonsense of apologizing for something done a year ago, hundreds, or thousands of years ago if I didn't do it. Whether it's the crusades or some other type of oppression I wasn't involved in, there is no point in me apologizing for it.

The first few chapters seem to address some surface-type issues that, in their minds, are the reasons why people leave the institutional church. Again, I had a really hard time connecting with these little minor issues they were insisting were the reasons people were "walking out on the church." It seemed through much of the book they were trying to put a shoe on my foot that just didn't fit. I can't imagine that I'm the only one who feels that way who has read the book. The problem is that I doubt the authors would have an issue with a person leaving one church building to start attending a service at another church building. For some reason they seem very attached to brick and mortar with a cross stuck on top, but feel that real vibrant faith cannot take place within a tight-knit community that, say, meets in someone's home.

My biggest beef with the book probably comes in chapter 5 with their break down of 1 Corinthians 14. This is proof-texting at its finest and completely ignores the surrounding context, or even the completion of Paul's thoughts concerning the gatherings and everyone being an active participant. When I hit this point of the book I almost stopped reading it. I have little patience for manipulation of the text in such gross manner. There was proof-texting in other areas of the book as well, but this was just beyond belief. I had a really hard time taking anything the authors said seriously after that point. Perhaps they weren't expecting people to actually look up the biblical references they were citing.

Chapter 7 of the book would likely have been sent to the shredder if the authors had attempted to take on the positions in Viola's Reimagining Church. There's really not a whole lot worth commenting on as their view of organic church is flawed to such an extent that I simply don't have the time to break it all down. My suggestion is to pick up a copy of Reimagining Church, read it, and then re-read Why We Love The Church (especially chapter 7) and see if their arguments really hold any water. I don't think they do. It is also interesting to note that the authors did not visit one organic church, and they didn't interview anyone they would classify as a "church leaver." It seems like that is something you would want to do when writing a book of this nature.

Overall, I agreed with the authors on some level, but certainly nowhere near the majority of the time. I found their arguments to be heavily based on proof-texting, which in my opinion is worse than straw-man arguments, and is something they stated they wished to avoid. Out of five stars I give it one.
DeYoung is still great at explaining his views, and Kluck has gotten a little better  May 18, 2010
Overall, this is not as good as Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be, the authors' previous book, but it's still a terrific response to a problem in the contemporary North American Church. A number of authors are advocating a mass exodus from institutional brick-and-mortar churches to a more free-flowing relational thing that may mean periodic house church gatherings or may come down to just pointing out during a game of golf that God made the mountains in the distance. DeYoung and Kluck present a very thorough case for why organization in "religion" is the most Biblical way to enjoy a relationship with God. As with their earlier work, DeYoung does all of the heavy lifting, as he analyzes missiological, personal, historical, and theological arguments for and against organized churches (in chapters satisfyingly full of footnotes). Kluck presents simple observations and a few interviews in chapters that added nothing to my experience of the book but may make other people smile (actually, I was impressed with Kluck this time around. His writing was so terrible last time that my expectations would have been exceeded in this book if he could have written five pages in a row on related topics, and he far exceeded that. Kluck's chapters almost never related to his clever and engaging chapter titles, but they were awfully close to good on their own, and I'm proud of his improvements). Both authors could have used more aggressive editors to point out typos and grammatical errors, but DeYoung's ideas are presented clearly and authentically, and they are certainly worth reading for anyone who wonders whether or not an organized church is still important. With me, DeYoung is (almost literally, given the subject matter) preaching to the choir, but I think I would respect his arguments even if I disagreed.
Book Wars II -- The Empire Types Back!  May 18, 2010
So, the rebel annoyance of church leavers have written a lot of books about what is wrong with the traditional church and why people are leaving, and after engaging their ideological adversaries of the emergent variety in their previous book, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck haul out the big guns and start firing away at all variety of church leavers with this book. Or, should I say, all variety of books about leaving the church. In short, Kevin DeYoung has read a lot of books about what is wrong with the traditional church, and he has written a book about what's right about it by hitting back at the books he's read. This is more than anything else a book about books.

One thing that struck me as I was formulating this review is that upon finishing the book I did not remember a single account of either author actually conversing with a Christian who had left a traditional church. I scanned through the book again to make sure. There is an account in chapter 4 -- by Kluck I assume -- who had a blogosphere discussion with an athiest, but there seemed to be no discussions with mature Christians who had left the traditional church to perhaps learn first hand why they did. (Of course, in Kevin DeYoung's world, "mature Christian" and "left the traditional Church" probably can't describe the same person.)

So, I must assume that nobody has ever become disgruntled with Kevin DeYoung's church and left (in which case he should write a book about how his church has accomplished that) or that Pastor DeYoung finds it easier to sit and read books about why people leave churches than to actually go and find out first hand. After all, getting out that church directory and calling people who have left (assuming you've even noticed that they're gone) might actually take some time away from attending conferences and writing books.

This book would be much more appropriately titled "Why People who don't love Institutions and Organized Religion are Wrong and We are Right", because that's what almost all of this book is about. The chapter that explicitely describes how to "love the church" (meaning Pastor DeYoung's kind of church) starts on page 187 and is all of ten pages long, or less than 5% of the book.

And, this chapter almost makes the entire book a parody of itself. First, DeYoung shares his vision of his "year of jubilee" and says "You may wonder why someone who makes a chunk of his living writing Christian books would suggest a year without buying, sellling..." And I thought, how about a year of Real World for professional Christians? How about a year of Pastor DeYoung doing a job that requires him to so something unpleasant, marginally dishonest, messy, tedius, or risky to life and limb over and over and over while working and being supervised by non-believers? Just an idea. I wouldn't mind taking a year off to attend a few Christian conferences and write a pop-Christian book.

One of the reasons I don't belong to a traditional church is that I got tired of being asked for large chunks of money to pay professional Christians to go to conferences and write books (pay their way while they persue more money making opportunities) while those professionals never bothered to call me up and ask me how things were going for me.

He describes "surviving" the first few events in his morning worship service, and then why he loves his church. He loves his church because he knows what his church believes and affirms; he likes the sincerety of his church's praise team; his small group; a couple he likes; a person he likes; "mentoring"; structure, elders, and deacons; a lack of happy endings; community; and preaching. That's all great, but so much of it happens not because of but rather in spite of organized religion! It's the stuff us ordinary sheep get in return for suffering through all the ritual and ceremony. It's the stuff that happens by accident before and after the mandatory "corporate worship".

Now, I was going to give this book one star because it does not deliver on what it's title promises. It's really not a "why I love" book, but rather "what's wrong with you if you don't love" book. However, I will say that I appreciate DeYoung bashing some of the things I like to see bashed. He takes pages to bash The Gospel According to Starbucks. (That was funny to me because I did it first, and my review is still the number one review for that book here.)

DeYoung also bashes Christians who apologize for church sins that they really had nothing to do with. I totally agree with him on the subject of "false apology syndrome". To me, apologizing for something you know you had nothing to do with is a form of narcissism. It's false humility plain and simple. I also like the way DeYoung defends the church in history with regard the flat earth, the slave trade, and the Crusades.

But then of course, I got the completely predictable proof-texting exercise which shows that traditional church practices are right there in the New Testament and are therefore always right. On page 179, DeYoung writes "Later in 1 Corinthians 16 we read instructions for setting aside a collection 'on the first day of every week', suggesting that the church met for services of worship every Sunday." Yes, wherever you see anything in the New Testament that looks like something that might happen in a traditional church on Sunday morning, it's a proof of "worship service" on Sunday. It might also "suggest" that after a meeting on the Sabbath, after the sun went down and the Sabbath ended (handling money on the Sabbath was forbidden I understand), that believers put aside money each week until Paul arrived to take their gift to help the poor in Jerusalem. And I don't even want to get into what DeYoung writes on page 126, where DeYoung engages in the also predictable exercise of reading his traditions into the scriptures. Tell me, how many recorded baptisms in the New Tesatament occured during a "worship service"?

Now, in closing, I'll add a bunch more stuff.

On page 57 DeYoung writes, "Those of us who aren't ready to chuck centuries of worth of church history, and years of unglamorous but God-glorifying growth in the name of revolution." Yes, but even DeYoung's church was started by one who was likely thought of as a revolutionary in his time. There's narcissistic revolution and godly revolution, and I suppose discernment is required to know which is which. And, by the way, I don't want to chuck centuries of church history. I wish I'd learned more church history in church. What I would like to "chuck" are practices that are centuries old and might have been useful in their time, but perhaps aren't the best way to do things now.

Finally, on page 171 DeYoung writes, "But a church that does not assemble regularly for corporate worship is not a church. Worship services are not peripheral to the life of the church." No doubt why the term "worship service" appears nowhere in the New Testament. One of the hallmarks to me of institutional religion is that it's the stuff that's NOWHERE in the New Testament that's the essential stuff.

Then DeYoung goes on to write, "Our gathering for worship is an exercise in covenant renewal, a weekly celebration of the resurrection, and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet to come." Again no scripture, just an assertion that Sunday at Traditional Church is "covenant renewal" time. Really? Does my convenant with God expire every Sunday and need renewal at a traditional church worship service? There's the arrogance of institutional religion. It claims to manage God's covenant with the believer. I've seen enough, and no doubt written enough for now.
In Praise of Patriarchal Institutions  May 8, 2010
I found Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck's arguments in "Why We Love The Church" thoughtful, though not all that convincing. In fairness, maybe this is because my husband and I don't fit the authors' "straw man" for church-leavers. We're baby boomers who started out in the mainline and pentecostal churches, and most recently left an evangelical church we saw as more fixated on scrotum than on scripture. We're too old to be emergent, aren't convinced the house church movement isn't the same content in a smaller box, too anti-institutional to hang out at Starbucks. I have no interest in utopia, in revolution or in any community other than my family on Sunday morning.

The subhead for "Why We Love The Church" is lacking a word. It should read: "In praise of PATRIARCHAL institutions and organized religion. The authors' arguments in favor of church membership are made almost exclusively from a patriarchal point-of-view. DeYoung establishes this bias on page 169: "Even in a unit as small and organic as the family, there are authority structures. Mom and Dad make the rules, with Dad leading the way." Kluck, the other author, emphasizes his strong relationship with his father, as well as his admiration for father-worshipping athletes. He does on occasion mention his wife. I identified with the infertility, the homeschool conflicts and the lack of happy endings.

Still, if you, the reader, grew up in anything other than a patriarchal family structure, if you had an absent or abusive father-figure, or if you, like me, were raised by an anti-authoritarian father, you won't understand most of the arguments put forth in this book, and might even find yourself praising the Lord for setting you free from all that.

The book's concept of the institutional church might not even fit many institutional churches. DeYoung's emphasis on preaching would rule out the Catholics; his emphasis on order would rule out many Pentecostals; his emphasis on liturgy would rule out the Baptists; his emphasis on keeping women "in bounds" would rule out liberal mainline churches. One is left to wonder whether any church practice--inside or outside of institutions--would measure up to his standards.

I'm not saying orthodoxy doesn't matter. But when you've seen the same tired gnat strained enough times, you wonder if someone's swallowed the camel. The book emphasizes masculine sources and rejects most things feminine like poetry (apparently it's always bad), old women's prayers and "The Shack"'s non-patriarchal Trinity. By badmouthing everything feminine as spiritually inferior, the authors effectively undermine their argument of the church as the Bride of Christ and therefore to be accepted with all her warts.

Come on! They're not married yet! It's not too late to speak now or forever hold our peace. We aren't going to offend Jesus if we respond to "the banns": "I have just cause why these two may not be joined together: The bride is a man." If Christians find Christ's fiancee lame today, imagine how repulsed Jesus will be on his wedding night!
Insightful Book  Apr 10, 2010
Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck are great friends and great writers! This book insightfully contrasts church-lovers and church-leavers, and makes a compelling case to join the first team! It is well written and fun to read.

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