Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Review: Real Church by Larry Crabb

Book ReviewAt a time when I and my family have finally settled down with a new church home, putting an end to a year and a half of church shopping, Dr. Larry Crabb digs deep into the issue of just what a real church is in his thought-provoking Real Church: Does it exist? Can I find it?

By guiding us through his own struggle with the lack of desire to even attend church -- his quest to find a real church -- Dr. Crabb exposes many of today's megachurches (though not by name) for what they really are: entertainers more than churches. In the words of Dr. Crabb, "Gatherings that mobilize resources to do good deeds do not, by doing so, become churches."

It seems today -- and I certainly experienced it in my own quest for a new church home after moving to Indianapolis -- that the churches Paul wrote to in Revelation 2:1-27 are still very much in existence in towns and cities across America today. Churches that are either lukewarm or that have lost their focus entirely. Churches that preach of prosperity and abundance, as if God promised us wealth and power just for following Him. So many of us attend church not for the reasons we should, but for our own selfish purpose. We're there to be entertained, to be made to feel good, to do our duty and stay in God's good grace, when we should be going to church to worship and celebrate our Lord.
God is a party happening. ... Church was designed by God to be the dance studio. ... A gathering becomes a church when a group of Christians together hear the music of Heaven's party and the laughter of God enjoying Himself and begin awkwardly dancing with the Trinity into the relationship and circumstances of life in order to bring Heaven's way of doing things to earth.
It can be so easy to go to church on Sunday so that we appear to be doing the right thing. To go because God wants us to go. To go because we want to go to Heaven. But can we go because we truly want to celebrate our Risen Savior? Is there even a church in your city that understands what the party is really all about?

As Dr. Crabb struggles to identify what a real church is, I find myself revisiting in my mind the many churches I have "shopped" over the past eighteen months, and comparing them to the real church that Dr. Crabb speaks about. There are real churches out there, but there are also real pretenders. In an enlightening and informative way, Dr. Crabb exposes the way of the pretenders, so that we might become part of the party.

This is a must read for every Christian (and non-Christian) who is struggling on his or her way down the path that God has set for us, wondering just what "religion" is all about, and whether the church is really doing the work of the Lord, or just trying to bring in more people and more money into the offering plate. A five-star commentary on the state of Christianity in America if ever there was one.

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