My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book begins with the question, “Why bother with church?” and ends with the question “Why on earth would I not bother with church?” It’s aim is to get us excited about church if we aren’t already. Allberry seeks to get us there by showing us two things: (1) what the church is and (2) who it belongs to.
Does he succeed? Largely, yes. The reminders from Scripture that the church is an outpost, a family, an embassy, and the bride of Christ, certainly excited me about the importance of church. "Lacking a church is not equivalent to lacking a decent supermarket or movie theatre; it is like lacking a hospital or a source of water. It is an utter necessity.” Necessary indeed, and also precious: "If you want to understand how committed Jesus is to the church, here’s your answer. He doesn’t just create it and let it be. He marries it.”
Along the way, Allberry answers questions such as: Why do I need church? How is church run? How do I survive church? As to that last question, he diagnoses what may lie behind someone’s boredom in church:
The focus is not primarily on what we do or don’t get out of attending our church, but on what we can give to others. Church is not there for your entertainment, as a consumer, but for you and others to find encouragement, as a contributor. If our “boring-ometer” for church is based on whether we sang songs we liked, or whether the sermon was relevant enough or short enough, or scratching where we have been itching this week, then it could be a sign that we’re going to church for our sake and not for the sake of others.
But the dominant note of the book is boredom with church but excitement for it. And so he concludes
Why bother with church? Because it’s the most important show in town. What goes on when a church meets is far grander than we tend to realise.
It’s God’s family.
It’s God’s embassy in this world.
It’s God’s way of preaching to the spiritual world.
It is, amazingly, Jesus’ bride, who will live with him in the next world.
And, in God’s great mercy, through faith in Christ, you get to be a part of it and to be part of the way God builds it. And if you remember this when you get up next Sunday, you’ll find yourself asking: Why on earth would I not bother with church?
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