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Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion Ministry & Church Leadership Church Institutions & Organizations


24th June 2012 Christian Books 46 Comments


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.

Why We Love the Church is written for four kinds of people – the Committed, the Disgruntled, the Waffling & the Disconnected.
Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion

Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc.

Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, across the street from Michigan State University. A graduate of Hope College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, he is the co-author of Why We’re Not Emergent and author of Freedom and Boundaries. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have three children: Ian, Jacob, and Elizabeth.

Hyper-spiritual approaches to finding God’s will don’t work. It’s time to try something new: Give up.

Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung counsels Christians to settle down, make choices, and do the hard work of seeing those choices through. Too often, he writes, God’s people tinker around with churches, jobs, and relationships, worrying that they haven’t found God’s perfect will for their lives. Or—even worse—they do absolutely nothing, stuck in a frustrated state of paralyzed indecision, waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting for clear, direct, unmistakable direction.

But God doesn’t need to tell us what to do at each fork in the road. He’s already revealed his plan for our lives: to love him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like.

No need for hocus-pocus. No reason to be directionally challenged. Just do something.

Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc.










  • 46 responses to "Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion Ministry & Church Leadership Church Institutions & Organizations"

  • Karl Jackson
    2:18 on June 24th, 2012
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    Calvin once stated something to the effect of “you cannot have God/Christ as your Father unless you have the church as your mother.” Evangelical Christianity today seems to have lost the concept of the importance of the local church. Kevin Deyoung does a decent job of formulating an argument for involvement/membership with a local church. Now I have no doubt that most people who disagree with the need for the local church have been burned in some way in the past. However, this does not mean that every local church is bad or that involvement and membership are not warranted from Scripture. Find a local church that preaches God’s Word faithfully, commit to it and serve. Sit under the teaching of a godly pastor and learn from God’s Word! Apply it to your life. Assurance of salvation is found in part by involvement and membership with a local church.

  • whatev
    3:49 on June 24th, 2012
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    emember the book We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be? Well, DeYoung was one of the authors. This time he is writing solo. It’s not a big book, but it is a useful one.

    He is tackling topic of seeking God’s will for your life. Too many Christian’s have wasted months and years trying to figure out something which is clearly in the bible for them. I have taught on this topic many times and DeYoung follows the same line of thought I have. The scriptures clearly tell us what God’s will for our life is – to grow in Godliness – to serve Christ – to tell others about him etc, etc. In fact, too many Christians have spent years trying to figure out which job they should take to the neglect of the commands of the Bible. DeYoung rightly turns this on its head. God wants us to to focus on those things which are important – the growing in faith, godliness, fruits of the spirit etc – not on which job or college you should go to. In fact God does not really care which job you take as long as you DO that job to best of your ability and to glorify Christ. If in doubt, seek to obey God’s commands in everything you do – and then just DO something.

    I liked this book. And I think its a great book to give teens.

  • WildBlueberry
    4:24 on June 24th, 2012
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    Having read several chapters in “Pagan Christianity”, I was very pleased to read this book for helpful balance. I especially appreciated the chapter on historic Christianity that exposes some of the shallowness of confessing sins of the past while neglecting some of our own. Keep it up!

  • chucklenatti
    4:41 on June 24th, 2012
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    This is a contrast to the recent, trendy Christian books that bash the church. Helped me to reevaluate being a internet Christian and to become more committed to a local church.

  • Brandon Wiles
    4:53 on June 24th, 2012
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    It’s trendy these days for Christians to claim to love Jesus and want community with other believers, and at the same time ridicule, insult, and abandon Christ’s bride, the church. In response to these inside attacks from the likes of Leonard Sweet, William P. Young, and George Barna, authors Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck (of Why We’re Not Emergent fame) seek to defend the traditional ideas and practices of the church in their newest book, Why We Love The Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion.

    In the introduction to the book, we learn they are writing to 4 different groups: The Committed (those faithfully attending and involved in a church), The Disgruntled (those who are part of local church, but becoming increasingly frustrated), The Waffling (the uninvolved and quietly dissatisfied), and The Disconnected (Christians or ex-Christians who have already left the church). Obviously the message towards each of these groups is different. Ultimately, though, the book is intended to acknowledge the church’s faults while kindling a new love for our Savior’s bride. Yes, there are improvements that need to be made, and much can be learned from why some people are leaving the church, but ultimately, the church is where Christians exist. If you love Christ, you will love what Christ loves, and Christ loves the church.

    As with Why We’re Not Emergent, the authors take turns writing chapters, DeYoung (the pastor) handling the more theological and historical chapters, and Kluck (the sports-writing layman) writing the more observational ones. Much of DeYoung’s chapters consist of summarizing the ideas of “leavers” like Barna and Young. I really appreciate DeYoung’s ability to remain irenic most of the time. He has an ability to disagree with his “opponents” in this book without taking cheap shots at them and gives ample space to communicating the opposing positions fully. He is also very skilled at articulating orthodox doctrine in a fresh way. I think his best chapter was the epilogue where he discusses original sin. The church has all kinds of problems, he argues, because it is full of sinners. Isn’t that kind of the point? How can we expect the church to be perfect when Christ hasn’t returned and we’re all still sinners? He quickly points out that this doesn’t excuse all the problems, but it should help explain some of them and help us be patient with the church’s flaws.

    My favorite chapters from Kluck were chapter 8, where he discusses life in his church. I could see many characteristics of my own church, some good, some bad, but that’s life together in the body of Christ. Additionally, Kluck’s short letter to his son really hit me as a new father. It made me love my church and kindled a determination to communicate that love to my children.

    Whichever of the 4 groups you currently find yourself in, you should read this book. It’s honest. It doesn’t gloss over the fact that churches mess up. Some do downright strange and ridiculous things sometimes. The book does, however, present biblical, historical, and practical evidence that the church is where the Christian life happens, for better or for worse. Christ loves his bride, and you will love her more after reading this book as well.

  • James M.
    6:11 on June 24th, 2012
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    This is the second book from DeYoung and Kluck (although both have authored other books individually). Their first joint book was Why We’re Not Emergent, which was a critical look at the emergent movement.

    This book continues the offensive against `emergent’ or post-modern Christian thinking regarding the church. The authors say that the book is for the committed, the disgruntled, the waffling and the disconnected. And their aim is to try and show that the emerging approach to `church’ and especially it’s extreme negativity and even outright rejection to the traditional mode of church is damaging, unhelpful and more importantly unbiblical. As they write, church is not…

    ….three guys drinking pumpkin spiced lattes at Starbucks talking about the spirituality of the Violent Femmes and why Sex and the City is really profound. I mean the local church that meets-wherever you want it to meet-but exults in the cross of Christ; sings songs to a holy and loving God; has church officers, good preaching, celebrates the sacraments, exercises discipline; and takes an offering. This is the church that combines freedom and form in corporate worship, has old people and young, artsy types and NASCAR junkies….

    They acknowledge that the church is flawed and messed up but that is not reason enough to simply dump it, not to constantly rip it apart. Also, they decry much of the statistics which proclaim the `death’ or `demise’ of the church. As they write, when over a hundred million people in this country attend church at least once a month, it seems a bit of a hyperbole to suggest that the church in America is about to disappear into thin air.

    There is value in the traditional, (that is program oriented, structured, pastor led) church…

    ….I’m also glad that my church is “organized.” I’m glad I know where to put my toddler on Sunday morning. I’m glad somebody was institutional enough to think through topics for a Sunday school class or two. I’m glad my pastor, rather than just freewheeling it, cares enough to study Scripture and a bookshelf full of dead authors to give me real spiritual food each Sunday. I’m glad somebody leads a social outreach ministry to those less fortunate in our area. I’m glad somebody (not me) makes sure the kids are learning something biblical in their classes. It is, at its most basic, organized religion. And I love it….

    DeYoung and Kluck equate a dissatisfaction with the church with a relaxing of orthodox theology; “substitutionary atonement,” “justification by faith alone,” “the necessity of faith and repentance,” “the utter inability of man to save himself,” and “the centrality of the cross and resurrection” and their concern is for such people five or ten years down the road. For the authors, while the `traditional’ church has problems there are the checks and balances, especially theologically, which can stop a descent into heresy or error.

    This is not a polemic against fresh expressions of church or house churches. They can be valuable. What the authors emphasize is that “house church” in America often means anticlergy, antiauthority, antiliturgy, anti-sermon, antibuilding, anti-most ways of doing church over the past 1,700 years. And that is not right.

    One area where I think DeYoung and Kluck get wrong in the book is they under estimate, to the point of dismissal, the influence of Constantine and his legacy in the modern church. One of their final attacks is against the notion that the influence of Constantine may have to some extent derailed the early church, and left a legacy which we feel even today. They write…

    Not only does it strain credulity past the breaking point to think that buildings caused the wheels to fall off the unstoppable church bus, it’s also unhelpfully idealistic. No wonder so many people are disillusioned with the church today. They think it was nigh unto perfect back in the good old days. And then came institutionalism, or Constantine, or Christendom, or Greek thinking, or the Enlightenment, or modernism, or systematic theology, or Old Princeton, or whatever your boogeyman looks like. The church used to be a rockin,’ sweet place, and then, bam!, it all fell apart, and now we are finally enlightened enough to start picking up the pieces.

    Ironically the authors say this directly after quoting ME. They quote me from an article I wrote (The Paradox Of A Divided Church Called To Be Reconcilers To The World) which was published in a book by Spencer Burke. Without defending my article (which I am sure is both flawed and inadequate) my aim was not to try and defend the emerging church approach but rather to show that the effects of Constantine’s influence on the church was to legalize Christianity. The legalization of Christianity meant there was no cost to conversion, and in many cases probably little repentance – the Emperor is a Christian and therefore so are we. The church became wealthy and landowners from this time forth and now today, buildings have become more important than the Gospel. I do not advocate that we should return to a `house’ church model, nor that we should get rid of buildings for meeting places. But when a building and it’s up keep becomes more important than the ministry the building contains there is a problem.

    Their dismissal of this point, without reference to scholars such as Alan Krieder, Rudi Heinze, Alistair Kee (Constantine Versus Christ), A Jones (Constantine And The Conversion Of Europe) and John Eadie (The Conversion of Constantine) was a little too shabby.

    But then again, I would say that, wouldn’t I.

    But having said all that, this is a vigorous and mostly useful defense of `traditional’ church although I do think Jim Belcher’s chapter on Ecclesiology in his book, Deep Church (I reviewed it HERE) does as good a job in upholding the traditional church alongside the need for change as Why We Love The Church.

  • Chaya Kochis
    7:30 on June 24th, 2012
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    Flying can be an extremely convenient means of travel, but one of the downsides has got to be all the waiting around in the airport. This week I flew back home from a conference I had been attending. I had brought books to read and I had packed my iPod full of music. Fortunately I also had a few good audiobooks stored that I wanted to listen to as well.

    At just right around 3 hours of listening time, Kevin DeYoung’s book Just Do Something seemed to be a workable choice for my downtime. Narrated by Adam Verner, Just Do Something had me engaged from the book’s introduction. DeYoung tackles a question that every Christian finds himself or herself asking at some point along their spiritual journey: “How can I determine what God’s will is for my life?”

    Listening to the book, I couldn’t help but think how Just Do Something would make a great gift for the two high school seniors at our church that will be graduating this year. DeYoung makes the argument that while the easy answers to life’s questions can’t always be found in the pages of Scripture, the principles are certainly there. The book seems geared for college and post-college aged Christians, but the decision making wisdom offered will be helpful for other generations as well.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Christianaudio as part of their Reviewers Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  • Horndog
    9:22 on June 24th, 2012
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    This book was exactly what I needed to hear. It broke down some of the lies that I was foolishly believing and showed me that even though I was sincere, I need to repent for being sincerely wrong about how I was viewing God’s will.

    I can sort of see where some of the negative reviews are coming from because Kevin is certainly not politically correct. I think he was pretty outrages at times, but I’m not totally sure I blame Him….I can’t really biblically prove him wrong. I would have been more cautious on some points, but Kevin just barrels on. He tells a story about his roommate who was rejected by a girl he wanted to date because she said that the Holy Spirit said “no” “no….never” So Kevin sarcastically writes, “Poor guy-he got rejected, not only by this sweet girl, but by the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity took a break from pointing people to Jesus to tell this girl not to date my roommate.”

    Overall I am so happy I read this book because I gained so much from it. I wish it was a little shoter yet though. Anyway, God’s will is for you to 2 Peter 3:18, not for you to agonize over every decision you have to make…..that’s what wisdom is for! Some really great points in this book. I paid $7.91 and got some great confrontation on some lies I was believing. Good book for anyone who is concerned about God’s plan for their life.

  • Laura Whitelaw
    10:53 on June 24th, 2012
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    DeYoung’s philosophy is simple, “Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God.

    It is sad that DeYoung’s approach will come as novel to many readers. But it is not. This approach is certainly as old as Augustine who essentially said, “Love God and do what you want”. Much of this book is given to tearing down the “hyper-spiritual approaches” that don’t work. DeYoung also offers some instruction as to what to do–but if you are looking for magical answers you will not find it. His advice is simple–just do something.

    This book is well written and extremely helpful. If you are the type that is constantly wondering what God’s will is, then you need to buy this book. If you work with teenagers or thirty-somethings that are still looking for direction then buy this book. If you have an adult living in your basement that should have a job, be married, and not living in your basement then perhaps you should slip it in front of their Xbox 360 with a note that says, “Read this!!!”

  • Duane Hatfield
    15:05 on June 24th, 2012
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    The core theme of this book is refreshing and freeing. In brief, Kevin knows God’s will for you and me: “that we live holy, set-apart lives” (pg 58, from I Thes. 4.3). We should pursue that and, well, do stuff. Live in wisdom and be sensitive to God’s guidance. Don’t live paralyzed and unable to take risks. And don’t exist in fear of missing God’s perfect plan (for he’s not playing I’ll Hide and You Seek My Will with us).

    I was involved in the publishing of this book, and I saw it at every stage of development…yet I couldn’t help but pick it up and re-read it when my finished copy arrived. Just Do Something is good and timely – a message that I need to be reminded of. Kevin’s writing is clear and engaging. He uses stories and examples to effectively make points, and the text is rooted in scripture. Some humor is mixed in, but it doesn’t come at the expense of the significant points that he’s making.

    For people like me – often weighed-down with life decisions and faced with innumerable choices on a daily basis – I can’t recommend Kevin’s balanced and biblical wisdom highly enough.

  • Amanda
    17:17 on June 24th, 2012
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    This book will challenge the church-leavers and the church-critics to reconsider their claims of living the Christian life without the church, or at least the biblical definition of the church. More importantly, I believe this book will give you a refreshed perspective, re-envisioned purpose, and revived appreciation for your local church. This was an enjoyable read…theological, entertaining, and real.

  • Emerita Knaack
    18:35 on June 24th, 2012
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    I recently had a lengthy and loving conversation with a life long friend. We were discussing why I had left the independent fundamental Baptist movement. We agreed on a lot of the problems, but disagreed on the solution. He’s still in, I’m still out. What we did agree on was how sad it is that many have been adversely affected by the sins of the movement to the point of leaving church all together. This is a shame. I would highly recommend that they read this book.

    DeYoung is the senior pastor of the University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. Kluck is a sportswriter who attends the church DeYoung pastors. Together they also wrote “Why We’re Not Emergent (by two guys who should be).”

    The odd number chapters were written by DeYoung. Kluck wrote the even number chapters. There are eight chapters and two epilogues. The first epilogue is written by Kluck to his five-year-old son Tristan, the second is written by DeYoung. Each also writes an introduction. In the past, I have found books with multiple authors to be too unevenly written to be enjoyable. I do have a theory that might explain the success of this joint effort however. Ted Kluck is really Kevin DeYoung’s alter ego. I mean, come on, “Kluck”?

    DeYoung writes as a theologian/pastor. Kluck writes in laymen’s terms. A layman with a great sense of humor. Together, this is an informative and entertaining read. I appreciated DeYoung’s copious endnotes at the conclusion of each chapter. Also, the use of the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation,” a verse of which precedes each of DeYoung’s chapters, was very edifying.

    DeYoung’s four chapters deal with four broad categories of excuses that people use for disparaging the church. These categories are missological, personal, historical and theological. Kluck follows up each of those chapters with his own person spin on the subject. In DeYoung’s terms, “Come for the logic, stay for the laughs” (p.18).

    Missional seems to be the new buzzword. Although hard to precisely define, it describes an intention of transforming the surrounding culture by purposely doing good works. In proper balance, this is a worthy endeavor. However, a lack of missional success is a frequent excuse for leaving the institutional church. DeYoung asks “where do we see Paul talking to his churches about transforming their communities?” (p.38). What is needed is an understanding of the “difference between the responsibility of the church’s calling and the individual Christian’s calling” (p. 40). Realizing that much of the community service taking place is being done by Christians, we should recognize this as the church being missional. DeYoung also warns of the danger that transforming culture may be hiding the message of the gospel. Works, no matter how successful, do not take the place of words. Cultural transformation is a worthy goal, but preaching the saving message of the cross is the utmost importance.

    Anyone who has been in church for long has certainly had occasion to be wounded. The issue is how a person responds to these let downs. Too many are using these personal slights as an excuse for leaving the institutional church. As brothers and sisters of the wounded, we should take these criticisms seriously and strive to make our churches less hurtful. DeYoung, however, asks those who have left four questions. Firstly, are you rejecting the church or the faith? (p.85). “If Christians are interested in a Christianity free from doctrine, demands and damnation, they aren’t just sick of the church and its unflattering quirks; they’re tired of the Christian faith altogether” (p. 87). Secondly, are you trying to have your cake and eat it too? (p.87). DeYoung writes, “I’m not against homeless shelters and parachurch nonprofits. I just want the anti-institutional church leavers to see that these are institutions too” (p.87). Thirdly, are you making an idol out of authenticity? (p. 89). “We should trust God and not be angry with Him. We should not consider ourselves abandoned. This is not phony Christianity; it’s faith” (p.90). Lastly, are you repeating the mistakes of the previous generation? (p.90). There have always been anti-church movements, yet the church marches on. “And what makes us think that after nearly two thousand years of institutional church, Christians are suddenly free to jettison the church and try things on their own?” (p.91).

    In his third chapter (chapter five) DeYoung dissects the historical arguments for leaving the institutional church. I enjoyed this chapter the most. Throughout the book, DeYoung interacts with popular books written about what is wrong with the institutional church. In this chapter he corrects the misconceptions of the “restorationist literature” (p.116), which postulates that nearly everything the institutional church is currently doing, the early church would have never done. DeYoung agrees that there are things that don’t have to be in church (pulpits, stained glass, robes, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be in church. “If you don’t like pews, fine. But they’re just benches. Can we not have hinges on our church doors if a nonChristian invented them?” (p. 118). He specifically deals with the areas of church buildings and orders of worship. In spite of what the critics claim the “worship of the early church was simply not without ritual and structure” (p.126).

    Finally, DeYoung addresses the theological concerns of church-leavers. He first refutes the claims that Christians don’t need to belong to a visible church and then dissects the claims concerning what constitutes a church. There is no such thing as churchless Christianity. And the New Testament clearly identifies the components of the visible church. “The church, as the elect people of God, is both organism and organization” (p.170). DeYoung surmises that what many church-leavers are really escaping is the sermon. Contrary to what the critics claim, the preaching of the sermon goes back to the time of Jesus and continued on with the early church.

    I highly recommend this book, not only to the disgruntled, but also to pastors and interested layman alike. I am grateful to be able to profit from the ministry of younger pastors, such as Joshua Harris’ similar little book “Stop Dating the Church.”

  • Rob H
    20:30 on June 24th, 2012
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    Spirituality is in. Church is out. This is certainly the case in the culture at large. And it’s become trendy among Christians as well. DeYoung and Kluck set out make the case for the church’s indispensability to the Christian life.

    DeYoung is a pastor and theologian, Kluck a layman and sports writer. They first teamed up for Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be (which won Christianity Today’s 2009 book award) , and this book is in a similar vein. DeYoung tackles the theological and biblical side. Kluck writes more from personal experience as a regular church-goer. They trade chapters rather successfully, as both are excellent writers, and the variety of styles makes for a pretty entertaining read.

    But they write this book to educate and persuade, rather than to entertain. Both DeYoung and Kluck have read the extensive literature churned out in the last 15 years from the “church sucks” crowd. At times, Why We Love The Church is a point by point refutation of the statistical claims and predictions of the likes of George Barna, and the theological and biblical assertions of men like Tony Jones and Dan Kimball.

    This book, they say, is written for a whole spectrum of people: the committed, the disgruntled, the waffling, and the disconnected. My sense is that it will appeal to the first three, more than the last. The smack down on the “church sucks” crowd will largely fire up the base of those already committed to church. J.I. Packer said this book made him want to stand up and cheer (and he’s really old), so younger committed church goers may even throw in a hip swivel and a “boo-yah!” for good measure. It also may be a good book for the waffling – those perhaps hurt by the church, but interested in really investigating God’s plan for redemptive history (and the place of the church in it). The disgruntled may even get into the book because DeYoung and Kluck speak the snarky language of the emergent crowd, even in their rebuffs of emergent theology. My suspicion is that this group is the one DeYoung and Kluck have most in mind in writing this book. These folks may not be persuaded by the arguments, but they might be challenged. But alas, the disconnected probably won’t pick the book up, largely because it has words like “church,” “institutions,” and “organized religion” in the title (w/o making fun of it). The subject matter of this book is likely not even on the radar for most who fit into the “disconnected” category.

    Overall, I liked the book. It’s a little more scathing in its criticisms than I would be, but that may reflect my own sheepishness. It’s certainly worth a read, and I could even imagine using it as a supplementary text in leadership training in a church.

  • Kelly Rinaldo
    21:04 on June 24th, 2012
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    “I just don’t have peace yet.”

    “God isn’t opening any doors.”

    “I’m not sure which way God is leading my heart.”

    The more I am in ministry, the more I hear young people echoing some of the above sentiments when it comes to the future. Truth be told, I too have postponed important decisions for some of the same reasons.

    The desire to discover the will of God is admirable. But what happens when your expectations for discovering God’s will don’t ever come to pass?

    At the age of 19, when I was wrestling with the decision of buying a one-way ticket to Romania, I went to my pastor for advice. I was waiting for some sort of heavenly confirmation of my plans. My pastor delivered a few gentle words that revolutionized my understanding of God’s will: “Trevin, no one wants you to know God’s will more than God does.”

    Liberation! God’s will was not some mysterious code I had to decipher. It was a realm in which I could make wise decisions.

    Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. (Moody, 2009) will probably have a similar effect on people who pick it up. Just Do Something is a short book (only 120 pages, and small in size) that can easily be read in an hour or two, but it still packs quite a punch.

    Kevin gently corrects evangelicalism’s often-misguided teaching about the will of God. Lining the shelves of Christian bookstores are books intended to help people discover God’s will. Yet, much of the standard advice turns out to be paralyzing to young people. Other books focus on trivial decisions (where to park your car, what outfit to put on, etc.).

    Kevin points us back to the sovereingty of God, encouraging us to take comfort in the will of God. The general will of God has been revealed to us. Christians are called to live within that moral framework.

    According to Kevin, here is the will of God for our lives:

    “God’s will for our lives is much simpler than the conventional approach. The will of God for our lives is that we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. The most important decision we face is the daily decision to live for Christ and die to self. If we do those two things then we are free to choose between jobs and schools and locations. God wants us to stop obsessing about the future and trust that He holds the future. We should put aside the passivity and the perfectionism and the quest for perfect fulfillment and get on with our lives. God does not have a specific plan for our lives and he means for us to decipher ahead of time.” (63)

    Kevin writes that God does have a specific plan for our lives, and he is not trying to hide it from us. When we are trusting in God to work out his purposes, we are no longer paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. Instead, we can “just do something!” We are to do what we believe what God has called us to do with the gifts that God has given us. And even when we are not 100% sure of our decision, we trust that God knows the outcome, and that our life will be part of his sovereign plan.

    Kevin’s book differs from others on the will of God because he chooses to focus less on discerning the “specific plan” for your personal life and more on the cultivation of wisdom. We don’t make decisions based on signs and circumstances as much as we make decisions based on biblical wisdom. Instead of asking for revelation from God as to what you should do, ask for the wisdom from God to be able to make the right kind of decisions.

    Just Do Something would make a great Graduation gift for the young people in our churches. And yet, anyone of any age can benefit from the teaching here. Kevin’s book frees us from passivity and paralysis. He calls us to get on with the task of “doing something” to the glory of God.

  • SteveD
    22:03 on June 24th, 2012
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    This is a very helpful little book, surveying some key aspects of decision making, with examples particularly apropos to the pastor/author’s predominant audience–college students and 20-somethings. That is, he often refers to matters such as “whom should I marry?” or “where shall I work?” Still, for someone older and recently investigating this topic afresh, I found pieces that were supportive of my own considerations, including confirmation that there are a lot of “right” decisions if our foundation in Christ is well-set.

  • jqrxbqa
    22:54 on June 24th, 2012
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    I stumbled on this book while searching for a present, and the title caught my eye as it seemed do describe me perfectly. Whenever I face a major decision, I pray not just for wisdom on how to make the decision, but for a sign: A dream, a vision, any supernatural occurrence that will give me God’s confirmation as to what my next step should be. Unfortunately, God doesn’t seem to be in the business of obliging my requests for personalized night-time direct-to-brain broadcasting. Rather than acting on what I logically conclude is the best course of action in a given situation, I freeze and do nothing at all, afraid that if I make the wrong choice, I’ll be straying from God’s will. The “wait indefinitely, lest I make a mistake” attitude has caused me to waste a lot of time I could have been using to glorify God waiting for answers to decisions that were never going to come.

    “Just Do Something” makes a scriptural argument that we’ve been looking at God’s will the wrong way. When we hear that “God has a plan for our life,” it doesn’t mean there’s only one correct option in every circumstance, and that if we choose incorrectly, we’ll be derailing God’s plan. The book explains a better, biblical way to approach discerning God’s will: Using the principles in the Bible and the wisdom God gives us to make our own decisions. The approach applies to marriage, career choices, choosing a place to live, and any of life’s big (and small) decisions.

    The book is a quick and entertaining read (some of the illustrations are quite funny), and I’m going to recommend it to all of my Christian friends whenever they face an important decision. More than an epiphany, this book gives you solid scriptural support for something you’ve probably already discovered if you’ve been waiting for a sign from God before making a life-changing decision: He’s not any more likely to tell you where you should live than He is to tell you what pair of socks to wear in the morning. It’s freeing to realize there’s no decision I can make (as long it’s morally correct) that could possibly impede his will for my life.

  • kamranqur
    0:34 on June 25th, 2012
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    Though this book rightfully gets in the face of the American male who feels entitled and is lazy, the book’s message is not balanced. It’s writing style is in your face with a continual theme of love God and do what is in your heart. Further, that it adamantly states that within certain limits God has no care with regards to where you go to college, what job you take, whom you marry, etc. is absurd. That being said, it’s message that God’s central heart for you is your sanctification is correct. Further, it is refreshing to hear that God is more interested in who you are in the process than what your are doing.

    The book is primarily based on 2Th. 1:11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

  • Joey Larusa
    1:31 on June 25th, 2012
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    This book is both entertaining and enlightening. One thing that really makes the book less monotonous is the fact that it’s written by two different authors with two writing different styles. DeYoung is more scholarly and to the point. Kluck gives the book a more lighthearted feel with interjections of comic relief. At times, I found myself laughing out loud; some parts are brilliantly hilarious and satirical. The best part is that the book is solidly based in Scripture.

    One reason I read this book is that I have had some bad church experiences in the past. Sometimes it is all too easy to simply give up on church and stop assembling with other believers. After reading Why We Love the Church, I am convinced that the local church is vitally important for every believer. Sure, each congregation is composed entirely of sinners, both in the pulpit and in the pew, but DeYoung and Kluck remind us that because Jesus died for his Bride, we should never give up on the church.

    I have met so many people who are disillusioned with the church and have either stopped going altogether, or are simply attending as non-members without being committed to the local Body. Many are replacing church with unstructured Bible studies that meet in homes or coffee shops or golf courses. Some of these so-called house churches are legitimate, but many are lacking biblically-qualified elders who can instruct and even discipline the members. The authors address these concerns and offer good responses.

    If you are about to write off the church, pick up a copy of this book. Chances are, you will change your mind, and even have some fun in the process.

  • amitklein
    3:37 on June 25th, 2012
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    I really appreciated DeYoung’s handling of the subject matter. He starts the book off by pointing out that many young people in today’s society are having a hard time growing up and moving into Adulthood. I couldn’t agree more with that thought. I really liked the thoughts DeYoung put behind that, it has a lot to do with the overload of information, overload of decisions to be made and the paralysis of not wanting to make a mistake. Thus DeYoung comes to the comment, “Just Do Something!”

    In chapter two he gets down to the basics of the question, what is the will of God. Here is a quote from DeYoung, “The `will of God’ is one of the most confusing phrases in the Christian vocabulary. Sometimes we speak of all things happening according to God’s will. Other times we talk about being obedient and doing the will of God. And still other times we talk about finding the will of God. The confusion is due to our using the phrase `the will of God’ in at least three different ways, typified in the previous three sentences.” DeYoung then goes on to talk about these three differences and why they cause so much grief. His book is filled with good Theology and very practical advice.

    As a pastor who works with many college age and young adults I know that they are struggling with this topic. How do I know whether God wants me to take this job, or go to this school or date this person? Those are big questions and they deserve answers. What I am really happy about is the fact that young people do want to know “The Will of God!” That is refreshing.

    DeYoung gives very practical advice on the subject and plenty of thoughts for us to kick around in small groups. I think he very correctly points out that often times we need to “do something” and get off our worry chair. To often we feel that we can’t proceed because we don’t know what God wants. His point, very simply, if you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and are seeking to do God’s will then move ahead and make some decisions.

    Now, before you make the decisions, do pray about them, do seek the advice of others, do go to Scripture and do some research. But once you have done that don’t get nervous that you didn’t hear a voice from heaven given you point blank direction. Take a step and move out. God will direct your steps. He will, as long as you are seeking His help give you gentle nudges that help you proceed in the right direction.

    I really enjoyed DeYoung’s treatment of this subject. I personally will keep copies of this on my shelf and when I have others coming asking advice about what God’s will is I will be happy to share this book with them and go through it with them so that we can learn together.

    Thank you Kevin for your insight and help.

  • Donkey
    4:42 on June 25th, 2012
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    Enjoyable read. I especially liked the chapters by Ted Kluck explaining why he is still going to church. Very honest assessment of the church. It does give you encouragement to stick it out and be faithful wherever God has placed you. DeYoung does a nice critical analysis of the house church fad that seems to be sweeping the nation. Seems to be very in vogue to bash the church right now. Guess what? The church will survive.

  • Jerome Gaughan
    6:14 on June 25th, 2012
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    Want to write a Christian bestseller? Then write a book attacking the church. Tell how, after leaving the church, you found God in Starbucks or on the golf course. Tell how organized religion stifles faith. Tell your readers that buildings, sermons, hymns, and creeds are unbiblical. Tell them that church is out, and relationships are in.

    Write it if you will, but don’t expect Kevin DeYoung or Ted Kluck to endorse it. They’ve seen too many of these books already.

    In Why We Love the Church, DeYoung and Kluck defend the visible, organized, hierarchical institution that is so fashionable to hate. And they do so realistically; no idealistic view of the church is pressed upon the readers. The authors are clear that, just like individual Christians, the church is imperfect. They admit that there are times they don’t feel like going to church. They admit that there are people they don’t like. They admit that there is music they don’t like. And they admit that some church practices are stale, irreverent, or silly. Ted Kluck, for example, hates being told to smile and greet those who are near him while the piano plays. “I have hated, and always will hate, meet and greet for the reason that it feels inauthentic and awkward.” Me too.

    But despite the imperfections, the Church is the Bride of Christ. It was instituted by Him. And it is more than two or three intellectuals sipping lattes in a bookstore. The apostles wrote to pastors and congregations about preaching, and order, and discipline. They instructed them, and rebuked them, and strove for their well-being, and loved them. We should too.

    There is no such thing, the authors say, as Churchless Christianity. “Churchless Christianity makes about as much sense as a Christless church, and has just as much biblical warrant.” Christians need each other. They need the leadership. They need the order. They need the doctrines and the creeds. They need the accountability. “The main reason, I think–people don’t like the church is because the church has walls. It defines truth, shows us the way to live, and tells us the news we must believe in order to be saved.”

    Why We Love the Church is a joy to read. Both authors have a clear and direct style, and both give the impression of sincerity and honesty. Their love and respect for the church is contagious; I have benefitted from it. I would like to see more direct references to Scripture, but it is obvious that the work is based upon Scriptural truths. In light of all the recent anti-church literature, this book needed to be written. Now it needs to be read. I’m glad I did, and I’m ready to go to church.

    “Go. Go to church. Don’t go for the coffee, the presentations, the music, or the amenities….Go for the gospel. Go for the preaching. Go to be near to God’s word….There are many people leaving the church, and supposedly finding God. But I found Him here, and by His grace, I’ll keep finding Him here. I love my church.”

  • Sid Stone
    6:33 on June 25th, 2012
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    I got this book as a graduation present and I kind of groaned a little. “Like I really need another book of finding God’s will.” I sighed. But then I saw the subtitle and thought, “This might actually be worth a read.” I’m very glad I did read the book.

    This book presents a pratical, freeing approach to finding God’s will without all the subjective hocus-pocus. It always frustrated me when preachers and authors would use such vague, subjective and touchy-feely terms in explaining how we ought to find the will of God. However, DeYoung provides an approach that is niether vague, subjective or touchy-feely. His style is very fun and easy to read.

  • Linda Kling
    10:37 on June 25th, 2012
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    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.

  • GeauxTigers
    11:52 on June 25th, 2012
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    The back cover reads, “These days, spirituality is hot; religion is not.” The last decade has seen countless books published by those who have left the church, and who encourage others to do so as well. Many who have grown up in church are disenchanted, disillusioned, and otherwise disinterested in attending church services.

    In response to the dearth of anti-church literature that has hit the shelves in recent years, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck have written this book to four groups of readers: The Committed (faithfully attending and involved), The Disgruntled (committed but frustrated), The Waffling (attending but uninvolved and dissatisfied), and The Disconnected (those who have left the church in their quest for God). DeYoung is a pastor in East Lansing, MI, and Kluck is an author who is a member of DeYoung’s congregation. The two men alternate chapters, approaching topics from different angles. Both are gifted writers, balancing theological insight with wit and humor throughout the book.

    The book addresses four primary reasons given by church-leavers, responding at each point with reasons why the visible, institutional, organized church is still the appropriate place for the believer. These four reasons are “Missiological” (the church isn’t accomplishing its mission), “Personal” (I’ve been hurt by Christians or by the church), “Historical” (real or perceived crimes committed by the church throughout history), and “Theological” (different definitions of what the church should be).

    Neither author denies that many of the criticisms are valid, and that there are some very real problems which must be addressed; they simply argue that running away from the church is not the solution, and caution against many unseen problems with the critiques themselves. The church is not perfect, but it’s also not nearly as bad as most of its detractors believe it to be.

    In fact, one of the primary reasons people get so fed up with the church is that they have unrealistic and unbiblical expectations of what it should be able to accomplish. We have a tendency to have the expectation of a perfection unattainable by those who Luther called simul iustus et peccator — at the same time justified and sinner. The Bible is clear that one day Christ’s church will be perfected, and there will be no more war, disease, death, or any of the other effects of the Fall, but it is also clear that this will only happen when Christ returns. Until then, the church is populated by sinning sinners, who will make mistakes and fail to live up to the standard set by our Lord. However, the church is also the chosen vehicle by which Christ’s kingdom is announced to the world.

    DeYoung writes:

    “The fact of the matter is we are not going to ‘transform the face of planet Earth to a place of justice, peace and equity, a place without suffering.’ It’s no coincidence that disillusionment is such a big theme in the church-leaving literature. Many of these passionate, well-intentioned youngish church-leavers have a vision for the world that is so unlike anything promised on this side of heaven that they can’t help but feel disappointed and angry with the church for not getting the world where they think it could go.”

    The best part of the book, in my opinion, is its epilogue, titled “Toward a Theology of Plodding Visionaries.” Here DeYoung posits that what is most lacking in today’s churches — and most responsible for our poor understanding of the nature and role of the church — is a proper comprehension of the doctrine of original sin. The modern evangelical tendency to shy away from teaching about sin and man’s inherent sinfulness has led to a generation with unrealistic expectations about Christians’ individual and corporate ability to change the world. When these expectations go unfulfilled, cynicism and disenchantment toward the church often result.

    What we need instead, as DeYoung rightly states, are “plodding visionaries”: humble, grace-filled believers with a biblical understanding of both the limits and the possibilities of the church and of individual Christians, who live lives of “long obedience in the same direction.” Far from being boring and insignificant, the lives of such visionaries are marked by the joy of their salvation and exultation in God’s glory. They realize the immense privilege it is to be vessels of mercy; a part of the Body of Christ, his beloved bride, the church.

    In summary, this is an excellent book, and one which has helped me to overcome some of my personal frustrations with the church. I pray that many more would have a renewed love for the church as they come to see afresh the way God’s glory is manifested in the church, and to see the irony in the arguments of those who claim to be followers of Jesus but will not follow him in love for his bride. As the book concludes: “Don’t give up on church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me.”

    “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” ~ Ephesians 3:20-21

  • Gini Dietrich
    13:13 on June 25th, 2012
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    As a pastor, I am often approached by people struggling with anxiety over how to determine what God wants them to do with their lives. This book is the best little theology of knowing the will of God for your life that I’ve read.

    The emphasis on Wisdom over personal revelation is the remedy which will keep many from making impulsive, foolish life decisions. Wisdom is so often overlooked as a resource available to the Christian. James tells us to ask of God who gives it away freely, and Solomon says we should seek it above jewels. Indeed, when Solomon was faced with leading a nation, he asked for wisdom to know right from wrong and to lead a people.

    Christians often wrongly associate spiritual guidance with a subjective ability to “hear” got talking to them in your emotions or intuition. “I think God wants us to move to Florida.” Why? “I’m not sure. I just think I hear God saying this.” That might sound spiritual, but it is not wise. The author speaks well in favor of wisdom.

    He also sets out a peace-producing theology of God’s sovereign guidance for our lives. Instead of of us wondering if God is trying to give us hard to read signs so that we don’t fall off of a singular path that He has for us, but that is hard to discern, the author points out that God WANTS to make it simple for us to complete His plan for us, and that His sovereignty is to be depended upon instead of some intuitive divining rod.

    Great book.

  • Steven P Jonas
    14:02 on June 25th, 2012
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    A short book that is a quick read, but with good content and high applicablity level.

    The book makes the clear, biblically based arguement that if we focus on the “how we do things”, the what we do will naturally fall into place, and we do not have to worry or fret over if what we are doing is in God’s will.

    Basically one of those books your read, slap your head and say “doh”.

  • bdkenendy
    15:51 on June 25th, 2012
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    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!

  • Rayden
    17:01 on June 25th, 2012
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    I can’t count how many nebulous conversations I’ve had in the past with friends about God’s will. Finally, some simple clarity. It’s not just another book on God’s will. The subtitle says it all: “How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc.”

    For individuals interacting with high school or college students at decision-making crossroads, this book will be an invaluable resource. Just Do Something is clearly relevant for more than just students. I have given this book to many friends at all different stages of life as it has truly shaken up my personal paradigm in how I’ve thought about God’s direction in my life.

  • happy camper
    18:14 on June 25th, 2012
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    ([...])

    What is this book about?

    More and more books are being written on the subject of the church. While you may think this is a good thing, think again. It is becoming increasingly popular to critique the church as becoming more and more irrelevant, oppressive, restrictive, and boring. Many popular authors have grown cynical towards the church and have advocated a “Church-less Christianity” that sees organized, institutional church gatherings as a place that kills, or at least greatly hinders one’s ability to know God and find true spirituality. “The church is no longer where we run in order to be saved, but, we are told, where we must run from if we are to truly find God” (160). Instead of weekly gatherings in a church building, three people gathered at Starbuck or on a golf course talking about spiritual things is the way to go.

    Invisible, universal church: In. Visible, local church: Out.

    What really matters in the minds of a growing consensus of Christians is that God is “bigger” than going to church every Sunday; God is at work in so many other (and equally edifying) ways than sitting in pews or listening to a lecture sermon each week. As we sit in our pews and listen to predictable sermons about things we already know, somewhere in the world somebody or some group of people are starving, dying of AIDS, being oppressed, etc.

    As true as this may be, it is only a half truth, and it’s not a sufficient reason to forsake the institutional church altogether. As much as ditching the church for churchless devotion may seem to liberate and increase one’s service to God, it actually lessens and weakens it.

    But the church does have it’s issues. The authors acknowledge that the traditional church is often caught being culturally backwards. They also admit that there is room for change, renovation, and toleration in the minds of traditional church goers on the (non)essentials of what it means to be a faithful church. They take an honest look at church-as-we-know-it and affirm that it is flawed and full of sinners thinking sinfully.

    But, that’s the catch.

    This side of heaven, that’s how it’s supposed to be! Thus, the response to the church’s shortcomings is not to bail, but to stick it out and love the church through all it’s failures and shortsightedness. It is in this way that the Lord purifies the church and grows individual Christians in character and selflessness. Though one shouldn’t excuse the church’s sin and negligence due to her unglorified state, one should not expect the church to be perfect. Abandoning the church for it’s weaknesses actually lessens inward transformation instead of strengthening it.

    In a piercing statement concerning those who have been hurt by church, Deyoung writes:

    “In all honesty I can say that in the times I’ve been hurt by church people or been disheartened, the biggest problems, in the end, proved to be those that came from my own heart. This is not to discount external pressures or difficult situations or the ways in which Christians can hurt each other. Yet even with all these outside factors, my main issue has been [me]. I respond in sinful ways. I feel sorry for myself. I lose faith. I doubt the Word of God. I don’t want to forgive. I stop hoping. I get embittered. I grow lazy. I don’t stay in step with the Spirit. These are my sins from my heart. Others can make life difficult for me, I can make it unbearable” (84).

    Recommendation:

    I highly recommend this book to all. It is literally FILLED with insight and wisdom! In my copy, almost every page is filled with underlines and marginal notes like, “Yes!!,” and “Excellent,” and “Amen!!” The authors are clear, witty, and biblical. They write in a down-to-earth manner, and are pastoral as well as culturally savvy. WWLC is an enjoyable read. I found myself rarely checking the time or the number of pages left as I sometimes do with other books. Those who advocate “church-less Christianity” certainly have their work cut out for them. As in Why We’re Not Emergent, these guys articulate their position in ways that I want to adopt as my own. Go out and getcha one today.

  • that sucked!
    20:04 on June 25th, 2012
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    (If I were more strict, the book was probably four stars, but I gave it five anyway.)

    _____________

    If you claimed to have a great “relationship” with a friend but you constantly mocked and belittled his wife, whom he loved, would you really be a good friend? If you tried to justify your dislike of his wife by pointing out that she has warts and is ugly, could you possibly expect a punch in the nose, if not a kick to the cojones? Well, if you’re a Christian and you treat the church with similar derision, how is this scenario any different than what you do to the bride of Christ? Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck try to show that there really isn’t any difference in, Why We Love The Chruch: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion.

    Recently, in the best popular-level Christian book of 2008 (so I say), Michael Horton wrote of a Christless Christianity. DeYoung and Kluck (D&K), authors of Why We’re Not Emergent, by Two Guys Who Should Be, write here of a Churchless Christianity.

    The book is mainly a critique of the arguments for why the church is “uncool,” or why it needs to be redone (meet at Starbucks with some Christian friends and discuss the “spirituality” of The Matrix). Thus, the title is a little deceptive in that the book is not so much a positive argument for why the authors love the church, though that is definitely included, but I guess even the negative functions as positively as that kick to the cajones would in relaying how much your friend loved his wife whom you mocked.

    D&K take the approach Eminem did in the final battle in the movie 8 Mile. In that movie B-rabbit owned up to all his faults and thus took the steam right out of Papa Doc’s attempt to cut B-rabbit down. They own up to many of the various critiques the “church sucks” crowd and the “redo church according to a Starbucks model” crowd have offered. They also point out that many of the criticisms are quite over exaggerated. And they also argue that the answer isn’t to leave the church. Besides, given the fall and man’s sinful state, as well as the already/not yet tension, there will never be a perfect church before Christ returns, so the attempts at redo’s will certainly face problems of their own (and quite apart from the fact that when the remodeling is done, you’re not left with the church anymore).

    Some of the anti-church (or anti-church-as-we-know-it, aka the redoers) arguments addressed by D&K are complaints like: (1) the early church didn’t do things like we do today, (2) the church isn’t a building, it’s wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name and talk about “spiritual” things, (3) the current way of doing church will result in the removal of the church from the American landscape, (4) church is boring, Christians are lame and closed-minded, and the church doesn’t care about (insert personal vision), (5) the church is dead or too commercialized, the preaching is boring or typical self-help psychology, (6) house churches are better, or “the” way to “do” church, (7) modern Christin church is re-heated paganism, etc. I think they do an all around good job responding to these objections. For those who disagree, they at least point out where we have problems with the “anti-church” (i.e., church-as-we-know-it) arguments and so hopefully the disgruntled can offer responses meeting these objections head-on so that the debate can progress.

    As I said, D&K are the first to admit some valid criticisms, owning up to various problems and bad consequences from a Christianity that tried to please the boomers with consumerism, self-help, and malls converted to mega churches to please the suburban corporate executives in their BMWs. But they also offer correctives to some of the over exaggerated criticisms, or, if called for, outright refutations. In the defenses and critiques you can see why they love the church, and why you should too.

    The best parts of the book are when D&K admit the flaw but argue for why none of this means we should leave the church. In doing so they set forth what I would call a biblically-informed view of the church that Jesus established. They also call for the “church critics” to inspect their own hearts. A lot of church-loathing stems, and I would say this is right given my experiences on both ends, from a lot of self-righteousness. Yeah, the church has problems, but so do you. The answer isn’t to ditch it or deconstruct it. The church isn’t supposed to be hip, edgy, cool, relevant, or even sexy, if we measure what counts as those things according to culture. That unbelievers don’t like the church doesn’t necessarily mean the church has the problem. Why would an unconverted soul particularly like preaching done right? Sure, they wouldn’t mind “a conversation” with a “conversation facilitator” where there is no dogma proclaimed and no call to repentance. The church isn’t culture. It isn’t part of what is fading and passing away. Of what is temporary. It is where the Lord meets his people and feeds them by word and sacrament. Where what Jesus did on behalf of his people is proclaimed and tired sinners are called to trust and rest in what Christ has done for them. These truths are dogmatically proclaimed by the herald of the king. In the city of man things are quite different. Church is the weekly rest stop for pilgrims passing through a land in which they are foreigners. They are feed and replenished by hearing of what was accomplished on their behalf so that their working could cease. Along with the preaching of the Word and delivery of the Sacraments, discipline is also a vital function of the church (ala 1. Cor. 5, etc). The elders are charged by God to look over the souls of their sheep

    In my review of D&K’s other book, I wished there would have been some more rigorous argumentation and analysis of the arguments of the church critics. Same here. Besides a more rigorous critique and analysis as counter arguments, some more historical arguments could have been brought to bear than were used. For example, some of the church critiques tried to claim that the “extraordinary rise” of Christianity in the first three centuries was because there were no churches with steeples yet (i.e., church buildings), just house churches. D&K were right to point out the flaws in even this assumption, but, to go further, as sociologist Rodney Stark has pointing out in (for example) The Rise of Christianity, there was really nothing “miraculous” about the growth of Christianity in terms of mere numbers. In fact, he shows that the growth rate is quite common, and is almost the same as other major religious movements (e.g., Mormonism). Now, if anything, Mormonism has some awesome church buildings, and some regular ones too. So “massive growth” in terms of numbers can’t really be said to be do to the absence of formal church-on-the-corner type structures. I would also like to have seen some additional questions asked to the “church is where ever a couple of Christians are gathered and talking about ‘spiritual’ things.” If me and a couple Christian buddies go to a Muslim mosque, is church at the mosque? How about if we go to a church of Satan in San Francisco? How about a husband and wife going upstairs to make love. If they talk about something spiritual are having sex in church? I must admit, that would be a handy codeword to keep the kids guessing. “Hey honey, want to go upstairs and do church after the kids go to bed?” These may be absurd questions, but answering them will help in showing just how the anti-church-as-we-know-it crowd demarcate church from non-church. If any of these are not church, then church is something more than just “a couple of believers tripping out together about how Neo spelled backwards is ‘One’ and this is an image of Christ, or something.”

    I would recommend this book to all Christians. The church is the bride of Christ. We need to quit thinking we’re too cool for school and that we’re going to start the next “big thing”, especially when this takes place apart from and without the main means Christ has given his people: Word and sacrament. We need to love the church with all of her faults. This doesn’t mean we have to be satisfied with the status quo, but we don’t leave the church as an answer, especially when much of the problem comes from our own rebellious hearts. To reject Christ’s bride because of the hypocrites (or whatever) is to reject Christ. This puts you opposed to Christ, same side as (unrepentant) hypocrisy, actually. Read this book and become an advocate of institutionalized and organized religion. Forget the pious sounding platitudes about being “spiritual but not religious.” Forget the absurd claims of “loving Christ but not the church.” That’s like saying you love me but hate my wife. If you do, you don’t love me, regardless of what warped thinking tells you that you do.

  • Cavill
    20:53 on June 25th, 2012
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    To be honest, I don’t know that we really need another book–yet another book–on guidance and the will of God. Having said that, there is probably no genre of book I recommend more often than this simply because experience shows that many Christians, too many Christians, do not understand how God expects us to know his will and how we may expect him to guide us to those things that please him. We are blessed to have some excellent resources at our disposal. The best known of these is Garry Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God, a book that many of the others depend on, but one that is perhaps a little intimidating due to its size (528 pages in the most recent edition). Dave Swavely’s Decisions, Decisions is the one I recommend most often as it serves as a useful condensed version of Friesen’s work. Similar titles have been written by John MacArthur, Bruce Waltke, J.I. Packer, Phillip Jensen and many, many others.

    The author who seeks to add something to this genre is entering into a very crowded field and is going to need a unique angle. Kevin DeYoung takes on this challenge and succeeds admirably, crafting a short but powerful book that really packs a punch. His unique angle is reflected in the title: Just Do Something! “My goal,” he says, “is not as much to tell you how to hear God’s voice in making decisions as it is to hear God telling you to get off the long road to nowhere and finally make a decision, get a job, and perhaps, get married.” He fears that many Christians, because of their unbliblical understanding of knowing and doing the will of God, are wasting their lives doing nothing when they should just be doing, well, something! “I’d like us to consider that maybe we have difficulty discovering Gods wonderful plan for our lives because, if the truth be told, He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is. And maybe we’re wrong to expect Him to.”

    DeYoung’s understanding of the will of God and God’s guidance is very consistent with Friesen and Swavely and a whole host of others. He distinguishes between God’s secret will (or will of decree), God’s revealed will (will of desire) and God’s will for our lives (will of direction). God’s will of decree is his secret will, ordained from all of time–a will that is going to come to pass and that no man can thwart. God’s will of desire is his will as revealed in Scripture–a will we sometimes obey and at other times disobey. God’s will of direction is the one that answers those questions we have about jobs and spouses and houses and all the rest. Here’s the real heart of the matter, according to DeYoung. “Does God have a secret will of direction that He expects us to figure out before we do anything? And the answer is no.” Though we are free to ask for his direction and though we ought to be devoted to prayer in all matters, God does not burden us with seeking his will of direction ahead of our decisions. “God does have a specific plan for our lives, but it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision.” “Trusting in God’s will of decree is good. Following his will of desire is obedient. Waiting for God’s will of direction is a mess.” The solution is simple: we are to have confidence in God’s hidden will, we are to search out and believe and obey God’s will, and we are then to use wisdom to make decisions that God will bless. We are to use what Dave Swavely aptly terms “sanctified reasoning.” DeYoung leaves the reader to consider this: “If there really is a perfect will of God we are meant to discover, in which we will find tremendous freedom and fulfillment, why does it seem that everyone looking for God’s will is in such bondage and confusion?”

    Here, then, is how we are to live within God’s will: “So go marry someone, provided you’re equally yoked and you actually like being with each other. Go get a job, provided it’s not wicked. Go live somewhere in something with somebody or nobody. But put aside the passivity and the quest for complete fulfillment and the perfectionism and the preoccupation with the future, and for God’s sake start making some decisions in your life. Don’t wait for the liver-shiver. If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will be in God’s will, so just go out and do something.” God’s will for your life is really not as complicated as you may be making it out to be.

    The book has occasional spots of appropriate levity. Writing about a young man whose affection for a woman was not reciprocated because “the Holy Spirit told me no,” DeYoung writes, “Poor guy–he got rejected, not only by this sweet girl, but by the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity took a break from pointing people to Jesus to tell this girl not to date my roommate.” Pastoral throughout, DeYoung also covers the kinds of topics that people ask in relation to God’s will–issues related to work and wedlock. In a concluding chapter that certainly does not detract from the book even if it does not seem to add a whole lot, he pays tribute to his grandfather who has lived a long and productive life for God’s glory without ever concerning himself with discovering God’s hidden will.

    In a brief Foreword, Joshua Harris says that this is his new go-to book on the subject of God’s will and decision making. I am inclined to agree with him, at least for those who are looking for a kind of entry level book. Friesen is still the most thorough and the one who lays the foundation, but this title is certainly much easier to read and much more likely to be read. I am quite convinced that any Christian who reads Just Do Something will benefit from it. I unreservedly recommend that you do just that.

  • Barry Obama
    21:30 on June 25th, 2012
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    I am a young (30 years old!) Pastor and am tired of all the church bashing emergent books that are starting to fill the selves of Christian Book Stores. ‘Why We Love the Church’ is funny, full of great quotes, and takes strong stabs at the weakness and un-biblical nature of the emergent ‘church’. Please note that this book is not a text book. It is just a fun book for all of us church goers who believe that you can still be young, hip, like starbucks, and love your local church. Enjoy!

  • Fox con
    23:13 on June 25th, 2012
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    Are you looking for God’s Will in your life? Are you wondering what He has planned for you next?

    In Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung sparks interest in a new twist on God’s Will for the Now Generation – those of us in the 20′s and 30′s. Kevin says that we should be seeking out God’s will through prayer, wise counsel and scripture. None of that advice is new, but the approach is different. The “Now Generation” wants instant gratification, and they want the answers right now. They often lack the discipline of searching scripture, developing wise counsel, and praying.

    He brings up many instances where people have over-thought God’s will to the extreme. He understands that it is important to have God in all of our decisions, yet God did give us a brain to think and make decisions; therefore, we should use it.

    One aspect of the book I found interesting was his discussion of finding a mate. He believes that guys have become too complacent in their pursuit of their helpmates. In fact, he is so bold as to assert that men have pushed women into roles that they have not necessarily wanted to take. Kevin believes that men need to man up. Wow, bold words! If you want to hear what else Kevin has to say on that subject, take a listen to this book.

    I suggest that you listen to this book. The book has the same pace and writing style as Rob Bell. If you have listened to Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, then the narrator’s voice will have an eery similarity.

  • Robust
    0:44 on June 26th, 2012
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    Kevin DeYoung’s & Ted Kluck’s book on the church is a fantastic read for anyone dealing with the church, from those committed to those who have left. Addressing many of the criticisms of the church and justifications for leaving, this work is well researched and written, yet easy to read and understand. They make a solid case for a realistic view of the church, as well as why we should stay and continue on as “plodding visionaries”. Definitely worth the read.

  • Anna Katherine Mendez
    1:12 on June 26th, 2012
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    What with the current movement to `non-institutional’ churches, this was a refreshing book to read. Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck attempt to bring a balanced look at the current Christian landscape, evaluating the pros and cons of the institution that is the church. However, their intentions in this book are clear: “We don’t want Christians to give up on the church,” they write, “In fact, we hope this book might have some small effect in helping people truly love their local church no matter how imperfect it may be.” They try to debunk myths and common stigmas attached to the church, and are very clear about who’s currently spreading false ideas about God’s bride, especially focusing on the skewed ideas of emergent or missional movements. They are candid about the different stereotypes that are attached to traditional churches and systematically diffuse each bad idea about the church. DeYoung and Kluck will essentially answer every question you have about the church and its role throughout scripture and history.

    Though the writing style might seem a little dry at times (when they talk about church statistics), or confusing (it’s hard to distinguish between the writing of DeYoung and Kluck), they make up for it in clarity (subtitles help) and humor (the endnotes are hilarious!). It was definitely a good book for me to read: as a person who has been very critical of the church and its role, it not only illuminated Christ’s love for the church, but it helped me understand the blessings and necessity of the church in general. I discovered that there is a mistake in thinking that we are the ones who bring about the kingdom of Christ but rather, we are given the kingdom through the church. And biblically, the purpose of the church is simple (though it is executed in various ways)-”It seems that proclaiming this message of redemption is the main mission of the church.” Between the hilarious anecdotes about their own stereotypes of the church, the straightforward talk about the church’s shortcomings, and the encouraging talk about all the blessings that the church brings to the community and believer alike, I was brought to praise God for my own church.

    This book is versatile as well. DeYoung himself writes that this book was made for four types of people: the `committed,’ the `disgruntled,’ the `waffling,’ and the `disconnected’. This is true. I think each aforementioned type of person would benefit from reading parts of this book, but I also feel like every Christian falls into one of those categories. So, in an effort to be more specific in my recommendation, I think that young church-goers would benefit from reading this book the most. Young adults, college and high school students are most susceptible to misconceptions of the local church and this book provides a balanced view of contemporary issues. Instead of following a trend or a religious fad, try reading this book and all the facts first, then you can decide whether the church is biblical or not (and I guarantee you it is).

    bc

  • Jeff Shattuck
    3:19 on June 26th, 2012
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    So often we expect God to give us this HUGE sign of what he whats us to do and so often we really do need to JUST DO SOMETHING!!!

    The book was a little too conservative for me, but a good read.

    Really challanged me to not just sit back and wait for my life to happen.
    But to actually do some thinking and figure out where to next

  • Clear in Idaho
    5:13 on June 26th, 2012
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    If you’re struggling to know God’s will, this is a no nonsense book that will give you perspective on the subject. Wish I’d read it last year! Easy read.

  • Fuck_joe
    5:33 on June 26th, 2012
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    I purchased this book hoping that I could use it to give to friends who I felt were a little off the deep end. Those friends that want God to write a bulleted list of instructions for them in Alphabet soup before they make any big life decisions. I was in for a surprise. After reading the first few chapters I started to feel convicted myself. I realized that my “far superior” methods of determining the will of God were based just as much off of fairy tails and pixy dust as my friends I considered a little nuts. I was convicted over my lack of desire to grow in Godly wisdom which then guides and directs our decisions. Instead of growing in wisdom I myself have depended on the “open door” “shut door” method of “finding” God’s will. God does have a plan for your life, but it’s not your job to sneak into his back office and try to find your file that lets you in on all the “secrets”. God’s not hiding something from you!

    This book just joined the list of top 5 favorite books. I am giving the copy I have away and buying a couple more copies. 1 for me and one to loan out to friends.

    Oh and kudos to Josh Harris on the forward. He really had me going the first paragraph, I thought he had lost it.

    Shout out to all of my Sovereign Grace Ministries peeps!

    Follow my Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/djeror

  • saminnj
    7:18 on June 26th, 2012
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    This slender little volume (almost a pamphlet) is a thorough and thoughtful analysis of God’s will. DeYoung approaches the issue with a terrific clarification of what he means by “God’s will,” (essentially, God is sovereign and knows what’s going to happen, and God gives us commands on how we should live, but when it comes to some hidden specific plan for an individual’s life that must be found through earnest searching by that individual, DeYoung finds no real Scriptural support) and he then walks the reader through helpful and practical aspects of how Christians should live their lives without seeking a clear direction on every nonmoral decision. DeYoung is respectful of the many perspectives on this issue, from some cessationists who do not believe God still speaks to some charismatics who believe God speaks all the time. Personally, I lean more to the charismatic end of the spectrum, so it was hard for me to read recommendations that boiled down to, “Ah, if you’re following Jesus, and you’re reading your Bible faithfully and in a community of believers, just pick a house already if you think it’s a good idea to buy.” But DeYoung has a pastor’s heart, and he clearly leaves the door open for God to speak, so to my summary of a recommendation, he would certainly add, “And if, for whatever reason, you feel a clear command from God about buying or not buying a particular house, you should obey it, you just don’t have to sit in paralysis before you hear something just for you.”

    My main impression of this book is that it’s short enough that I can loan it to people who will actually read it, and it is a consistently humble and honest attempt to accurately reflect what the Bible says about God’s will while liberating people to make decisions. I recommend it.

  • Tammy A Morton
    8:16 on June 26th, 2012
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    I read this book recently and found it to be a liberating counterbalance to the hyper-cautious and fearful notion that our day-to-day decisions can screw up God’s plan for our lives. Christians need to hear this. At the same time, I noticed a couple flaws with the book:

    1. One of Kevin’s key points is that moral decisions matter much more than amoral (non-moral) ones. Fair enough, but he tends to downplay the significance of life’s biggest amoral decisions such as who to spend your life with and how to serve God through your career/vocation. He almost goes as far as saying that God doesn’t particularly care who you marry or what your job is as long as you’re living in moral obedience to the Scriptures. In an effort to rouse slothful Christians from their couches (an important goal to be sure), Kevin ends up reducing the will of God to obeying the Bible. In other words, stop worrying about your future spouse, career or ministry calling and work on your personal holiness. This struck me as a false choice while trivializing the sincerity of those who seek God’s will in their amoral decisions.

    2. Because of Kevin’s strict delineation of moral vs. amoral decisions, the role of the Holy Spirit becomes little more than helping us understand and obey the commands of Scripture. As critical as this is, I got the sense that Kevin doesn’t put much stock in having a conversational relationship with God in which He actually speaks to us about life’s amoral decisions such as one’s vocational calling, which school to attend or when to start a family. As I look back on my 29 years, I can see many instances of God’s guidance, presence and provision though a variety of “non-moral” decisions that brought me to where I am today. These were not matters of biblical obedience vs. sin, but God was certainly concerned and involved throughout the process.

  • Way To Go Jen
    9:10 on June 26th, 2012
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    This book had me underlining things all over the place. Full of great quotes. However, it never seemed to really set forth the positive case for Church in great detail … or even average detail. I think a much better book at the same readership level is God’s New Community: New Testament Patterns for Today’s Church. Beynon’s book is straight ahead Bible exposition. Maybe book could be read in conjunction to get the American and British slants on how to encourage fidelity to the local church.

  • Henry Blodget
    9:52 on June 26th, 2012
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    Some time ago a dear friend and fellow ministry partner sat down with me and strongly yet lovingly urged me (and my wife) to go back to church. Even though he intimately understood why we left our traditional church, my friend sincerely believes that it is good for us and for the church that we be connected to a local body of believers. Since that time, we have been praying about and occasionally looking for a church that we believe fits the biblical qualifications of what a church is and does.

    A variety of “good” reasons have come up why we think that we don’t need to be involved in a church to be the church. In some ways these reasons justify us being “churchless” Christians (Note the equivocation of “church” here. In this post, context should make it evident how “church” is used; primarily “church” means “traditional church.”). Many of our reasons are addressed in Why We Love the Church and, after reading a review by my good friend Louis at Baker Books, I decided to read the book by DeYoung and Kluck. To say the least, I was surprisingly encouraged and challenged.

    This book is a candid, balanced, biblically thoughtful, historically informed, and pastorally sensitive corrective to radical Christianity that says “NO!” to traditional church. Honestly, many of my ideas and feelings about traditional church have been not only addressed but adjusted at several points.

    At first I was reluctant to begin this book because of past hurts and pains with traditional church.
    Lord knows we have some deep pains (as you may) with churches. Not 20 pages in to the book and it seemed this would be just an apologetic for “church as usual.” Statements like “I might as well have a basement without a house or a head without a body as despise the wife my Savior loves” (p. 19) made me uneasy, to say the least. After all, isn’t “despise” strong language? Must every gathering of believers be tied to or connected with a traditional church model lest they be accused of “despising” the church?

    Thankfully, after moving into Chapter 1 it became apparent that Kevin DeYoung’s analysis (I’ll reserve comments to his chapters only) has most to do with the church being the champion of Gospel proclamation, rather than a mere change agent of society couched in biblical terms like “missional.” His call for the church’s faithfulness to believe, rely on, accurately proclaim and live out, pray for, train up families in, and trust God for the Gospel is hardly a point that I (or any responsible Christian) could argue. DeYoung insists that “proclaiming this message of redemption is the main mission of the church, even more than partnering with God to change the world.” Spot on, Kevin…spot on!! This book does not discourage transformational efforts in our communities and around the globe; only they need to be under the priority of Gospel proclamation. Even though not being in a traditional church for some time, my wife and I have always maintained: If we do not put the central message of Christianity at the heart of every activity, then all other efforts carry little weight at best and certainly have zero eternal value. After finishing this chapter, I had to keep reading.

    Chapter 3 speaks to the relevance (or irrelevance) of the church. Church is boring, outdated, too big, abusive, inauthentic (fill in your own nomenclature). DeYoung challenges these charges while admitting some truth to them where appropriate. The audience here is individual churchless Christians asking that we consider what is really being rejected: the church or the faith; one institution (traditional church) for another (homeless shelters); genuine joy in the Lord if it does not share a cynicism toward church; an opportunity for growth by sticking with an imperfect church? Although my wife and I clearly have not nor could ever leave the faith because of an imperfect expression of it, I had to prayerfully consider the other questions.

    “The Historical: One Holy Catholic Church,” Chapter 5 is a pointed response to some of the churchless books (which I’ve purposefully not read because my own cynicism has been sufficiently caustic at times) charging the traditional model with “pagan” forms of doing church. One of the net deductions of DeYoung’s research (and that of well-known scholar Ben Witherington, see here, here, here, here, and here) is that whether surrounded by four walls with paid staff or neighborhood gatherings and home Bible studies, we cannot escape pattern and structure. Thus in some sense, churchless Christianity may be cutting off its rebellious nose to spite its radical face.

    The last section of this chapter, “A Sorry Bunch of Christians,” has some keen psychological insights into how traditional-church-sucks types enjoy apologizing for the sins of the church rather than sharing in the Body’s burden as a family. This is worth considerable reflection and shows a great deal of maturity from the rather young DeYoung pastor of only 32 years.

    Chapter 7 hit me the hardest. “The Church of Diminishing Definition” lays down solid responses to “churchless Christianity.” Rather than a “minimalist ecclesiology,” DeYoung argues for a “sharpened understanding” to the distinction between invisible and visible church. Admittedly, the visible church is an imperfect reflection of the invisible church, but “instead of using the invisible-visible distinction as a way to avoid church commitment, church-leavers would see the distinction as an impetus for patience with the [visible] church” (p. 163). As such, “we’d be more like the Reformers who never used the distinction to undermine the place of the organized church, but to emphasize the spiritual essence of God’s gathered people…[which] needs to be made visible.” Other important contributions in this chapter include:

    “Though individual believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit as temples of God, only the church constitutes the body of Christ.”

    “…to say the church is the people of God is not the same as saying that wherever the people of God are there you have a church.”

    “The church manifests itself in churches. And churches do certain things and are marked by certain characteristics.”

    “The `revolutionary’ understanding of the church is right in what it affirms….but wrong in all that it leaves out.”

    “The Bible simply does not teach a leaderless church.”

    “We cannot throw out the pastoral office just because we prefer a `flat structure’ or just because some pastors are goons.”

    “The priesthood of all believers does not negate the need for authority structures in the church.” (p. 184, footnote 36)

    Perhaps the strongest statement here, from a senior pastor of a mid-sized church no less, and one that clearly shows a striving for objectivity and balance is:

    “If house churches have good preaching, good leadership, good theology, intentional discipleship, appropriate structures, rich worship, and administer the sacraments and practice church discipline, then I don’t care if they meet in my basement. House churces aren’t the only way to do church, but done right, they are a way” (p. 179).

    The epilogue, written by DeYoung, basically makes an appeal to the Reformed (and in my estimation thoroughly biblical) principle of total depravity. At first I wondered how he would tie in the first point of Calvinism with ecclesiology, but within a few pages it made perfect sense to me. In a word, the church is full of “sinning saints and sinning sinners.” Consequently, we should keep our idealism in check and recognize that the Body of Christ, though redeemed for all eternity, is a work in progress. In fact, this is a common motif running throughout the entire book and clearly colors the authors’ view on the nature and function of the church. In a candid moment, DeYoung remarks:

    “This book is not meant to be an apology for nothing but more of the same; rather, it’s a plea for realism. Things are not the worst they’ve ever been. The end of the church in America is not nigh upon us. There are grave failings in the church, in the evangelical church as much as anywhere. We need better preaching, better theology, more love for Jesus, more involvement in our neighborhoods, more evangelism, more crossscultural missions, more generosity, more biblical literacy, less worldliness, less trend-tracing, and better discipleship…But in the midst of our struggles, we need to guard against wild hyperbole. We need to exercise more caution before we pronounce the end of the church as we know it. We need a little more humility before we announce everything must change. And we need more wisdom before we reinvent the church for yet another time-let alone before we pitch her to the crub altogether.”

    I especially appreciated the balance brought by this book. Where the church has failed, the authors make clear their agreement and lament her failures. Where the church has succeeded, they shine a bright light on the Bride of Christ showing all her radiant beauty. Perhaps one of the most important principles that I came away with was this: It is only as the church of Christ that it can properly discharge her mission for Christ in proclaiming the Gospel. Her identity defines her function.

    Thanks to DeYoung and Kluck for sharing their burden for the Bride of Christ.

  • Matt Ryan
    11:07 on June 26th, 2012
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    I have been eagerly looking forward to reading and reviewing Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, authors of Why We’re Not Emergent (I got WWNE at T4G but haven’t read it yet). Many of the books I have been reading recently look at the institutional church with the stink eye, so I was hoping this would provide a nice counterbalance to the sometimes over-the-top criticism of the traditional, institutional church. Much of the critique of the institutional church is essentially the same sort of practice defending rhetoric that comes out of the institutional church so I was expecting a vigorous, Scriptural defense of the church as we know it and do it.

    Kevin and Ted have an interesting task and a difficult one. They are defending the status quo and that makes it hard because there are so many things that have gone wrong in the 1700 or so year history of organized religion in Christianity. Poking holes in organized religion is a simple task. Trying to defend the flawed system under assault in books and blogs is a much harder task.

    This book assumes that the institutional church is the norm and therefore is correct unless proven otherwise. Granted the institutional church has hundreds of years of history on it’s side and lots of famous and well-respected giants of the faith who support it. I would have liked to have seen them develop a theology of the institutional church from the New Testament forward but it seems that the approach is to look at the last few centuries since the Reformation and defend the visible manifestation of the church that has risen against any and all comers. I found that the book, to echo Tim Challies, seemed reactive. In other words, it was more being defensive on behalf of the institutional church than it was positively affirming that the institutional church is Biblical.

    Kevin and Ted are clearly gifted writers that care a lot about the church, theology, practice, people and especially Christ. I understand what they are setting out to do. As I said, the “Everything about the institutional church is wrong!” movement misses the mark in so many ways. The organized religion we call “church” is full of great people, great pastors, great acts of charity and kindness, great teaching and great praying.

    There are a lot of areas in this book that I found unfortunate. The authors create a number of false dichotomies: Either the Bible or community. Either theology or fellowship. Either the hierarchical, institutional church or “Lone Wolf”, churchless Christians. They tend to cherry pick the worst sounding quotes from authors, especially George Barna, and then mock them. They refer a lot to church fathers like Cyprian and the Reformers as well as contemporaries like John Stott, but there is precious little Scripture. That isn’t to say that there is no Scripture referenced, because there are lots of parenthetical references. However, by and large when Scripture is referenced it consists of proof-texted notes that reinforce dogmatic statements defending preexisting traditions.

    Much of the reasons given for staying in the institutional church have a glaring flaw. Virtually none of the benefits require the institutional church and some are hampered by that very organization. One example is the last chapter by Ted, a moving chapter dedicated to his young son called Dear Tristan. As I read it, I would agree and echo a lot of what Ted said. I also would ask why the institutional church is necessary for his son to experience these wonderful benefits. Another example comes on pages 101-102 where Ted compares the church to a gym where we train for spiritual combat. Ted says: “Church, to us, should be as relevant as the gym is to the boxer, or as basic training is to the solder. We wouldn’t go into a fight without training or thinking about our strategy.” As I read that, I wondered if anyone else saw the inherent flaw in that argument. Church is not like a gym where we work out and get spiritually fit. It is more analogous to all of us going to the gym and watching one or a few men work out. In a boxing gym or basic training, men don’t sit around watching all the time. Sooner or later you need to learn to shoot a rifle yourself or bob and weave and throw a jab. Sure you might learn something from their technique or instructions, but at some point you need to get in the ring. In war the drill sergeant doesn’t walk along the line of soldiers, loading their rifles and putting them up to the soldiers shoulders.

    Ultimately I think the grand flaw of this book is that Kevin and Ted are answering the wrong question and perhaps unknowingly jumping over a step. I know of few people that are advocating a truly “churchless” Christianity. I do know a lot of people who are asking hard questions about the traditional institutional church and those questions are the ones that I had hoped would be answered here. Defending the institutional church against lone wolf Christians is pretty easy. Somewhere between disgruntled former church goers mumbling into their Starbucks on Sundays and institutionalized churches with paid staff, liturgy and programs are a wide swath of Christians who have abandoned organized religion without abandoning orthodoxy. You not only can be orthodox outside of the institutional church, you really might just be more orthodox outside of organized religion. The big question is not whether George Barna and company are wrong but why is institutional Christianity right?

    I found this book to be a disappointment because I expected more. People who are comfortable in the institutionalized church will find confirmation here. I would expect that this book will be very favorably received by people in vocational ministry. On the other hand, those who are questioning or leaving the institutional church will find little that is compelling to make them desire to stay. Rejecting the institutional church doesn’t mean that you don’t “love the church” or that you are “leaving the church” and that distinction seems to be missing in this book. This book started with an interesting premise and could have been a great book but in the end fell far short.

  • jimmyjim
    13:28 on June 26th, 2012
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    “Just do it”. I remember telling myself that as I stood on The Bridge to Nowhere overlooking the Angeles National Forest.

    I put my hand over my heart and stepped off the bridge. My freefall was clipped by a strong jolt as I rocketed back up into space. My first bungee jumping experience was a success; I was alive. But I had learned an important lesson:

    “Faith without works is dead.” My mustard seed faith, that the bungee cord would not break was enough for me to take that heart stopping step.
    Imagine what we as Christians can do if we stop making namby-pamby excuses and put our faith into action!

    Just Do Something hits the nail on the head with this no nonsense, tell- it-like-it-is book that my generation desperately needs to read.
    We need to break this idea that Christianity is a label not a life.

    Thank you Mr. DeYoung for writing this book and encouraging us to just do it for God.

    Keleigh Crigler Hadley author [...]

  • GeauxTigers
    15:22 on June 26th, 2012
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    DeYoung & Kluck offer an interesting counterpoint to Barna’s Pagan Christianity. There is value in tradition and in assemblying together. Each congregation is different. Before you throw out the old liturgy, reject everything you are doing now and go off into a “small group” format you need to read this book.

  • John Zwelling
    15:39 on June 26th, 2012
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    I purchased this book based on a review I read at discerningreader.com. It is, hands down, the best book I’ve ever read on discerning the will of God (and I’ve read several!). It’s views are thoroughly based in Scripture and it is written in an engaging and easy to read style. I’ve purchased several more for our church.

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