Dec 2, 2009

Why We Love the Church - A Review

Recently I saw this book in the bookstore and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I read it in about a week and was encouraged and strengthened by it. The book is written by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, two young evangelicals that are definitely not the norm among today's younger evangelicals. These two guys wrote the book Why We Are Not Emergent by Two Guys Who Should Be which won a Christianity Today Book of the Year award. DeYoung is a rising influence in the evangelical world. He is the pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He has a solid Reformed background and is passionate about providing sound, biblical teaching to a congregation made up mostly of college students and young professionals. Kluck is a member of DeYoung's church and an award-winning sportswriter. He's written for ESPN The Magazine, Sports Spectrum, and Page 2. Both of these guys provide a fresh, authentic voice in their writing that is doctrinally solid, culturally relevant, and refreshingly honest.

Why We Love the Church is exactly what it sounds like - an attempt by two young evangelicals to present their case for the local church despite all it's flaws and failures. They reveal their frustration with the popular trend among evangelicals, especially the emergent crowd, to publish their manifestos on all of the reasons why the church is broken, where the church has failed, and how to fix it to make it more relevant and missional. The Christian book market has been flooded in recent years with books by George Barna (Revolution and Pagan Christianity), Jim Palmer (Divine Nobodies and Wide Open Spaces), Dan Kimball (They Like Jesus but Not the Church), and the constantly off-beat Brian McClaren (A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, and The Secret Message of Jesus). These guys are full of all kind of advice about how the local church is too concerned with self-preservation, blind to social justice issues, and not good on helping people find real answers to real questions. They propose a new brand of Christianity that unfortunately lacks any theological depth, is open to a gospel without the language of sin and repentance, and measures success more by our attempts to save the planet or eradicate AIDS than it does on lives transformed by the gospel and growing through the faith "once for all delivered to the saints."

I was extremely encouraged by DeYoung and Kluck. DeYoung writes with a theological depth well beyond his years. He is still young enough to know the issues that this generation struggles with. He is honest that the church has not done a good job of answering the questions that this younger generation is asking. He paints a broad picture of how most young adults see church:
"In their experience, church is where a lot of people show up and don't do anything, where evangelism and the seeker are all that matter, where every Sunday must be a celebration, where suburbia is king, where pastors are godlike CEO's, where another building is always under construction and another capital campaign is coming soon."
He also is honest to show the reasons why people are leaving the church. The church has become inauthentic, outdated, and in some cases abusive of authority. However, DeYoung's answer is not to leave the local church in favor of a discussion group at Starbucks. He actually suggests that some of the angst with the church may be self-induced by a group of people that have lacked real discipleship, have never heard the truth of the gospel that calls for self-denial and mortification of sin, and have always been the center of attention. Perhaps the problem is a combination of the misguided mission of the local church and the spiritual immaturity of a younger generation that has never truly understood the gospel. Perhaps the answer is not less doctrine, but true doctrine. Perhaps the answer is not to rewrite the gospel of redemption, but to preach the truth of biblical redemption.

DeYoung's co-author Kluck has a satirical wit and candor combined with a passion for the local church. He uses illustrations from today's movies and television to point out that what people are really looking for is the local church and what it provides.

DeYoung and Kluck have written a brilliant book that many church leaders should read. Before we jump off the emergent diving board with McClaren, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, and George Barna, we should possibly make sure that pool has enough water to catch us and keep us from sustaining permanent damage. If you are a pastor or church leader, get a copy of this book and read it now.

Kevin DeYoung's blog is also an excellent read and can be found here.