Don’t be a hater: Get to church

Ted Kluck and Kevin DeYoung, who teamed up to write “Two Guys Who Are Not Emergent” and the just-published “Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion,” recently wrote an article for the On Faith section of the Washington Post. For two young guys, they sound a chord not heard often in this culture. That is, the church is important in our society:

Here’s what Bono, Oprah, and the guru speakers on PBS won’t tell you: Jesus believed in organized religion and he founded an institution. Of course, Jesus had no patience for religious hacks and self-righteous wannabes, but he was still Jewish. And as Jew, he read the Holy Book, worshiped in the synagogue, and kept Torah. He did not start a movement of latte-drinking disciples who excelled in spiritual conversations. He founded the church (Matt. 16:18) and commissioned the apostles to proclaim the good news that Israel’s Messiah had come and the sins of the world could be forgiven through his death on the cross (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:14-36).

Now, these guys are not naive. They know what churches can be like and how they have received a reputation for not being the most loving places in the world:

We’ve been in the church our whole lives and are not blind to its failings. Churches can be boring, hypocritical, hurtful, and inept. The church is full of sinners. Which is kind of the point. Christians are worse than you think. Our Savior is better than you imagine.

But the church is not all about oppression and drudgery. Almost every church we know of visits old people, brings meals to new moms, supports disaster relief, and does something for the poor. We love the local church, in spite of its problems, because it’s where we go to meet God. It’s not a glorified social/country club you attend to be around people who talk and look just you do. It’s a place to hear God’s word spoken, taught and affirmed. It’s a place to sing praises to God, and a place to serve others. It’s a place to be challenged.

Their new book “provides a solid biblical mandate to love and be a part of the body of Christ and counteract the ‘leave church’ books that trumpet rebellion and individual felt needs.” I know that there are many of us who have in the past gone through or currently are going through difficulties with your fellow believers in the church. Don’t despair — and don’t leave the church.

Download the study guide to go with the book.

And now, some words for the nonrevolutionaries among us

Ted Kluck, by way of coauthor Kevin DeYoung’s blog, has some words for you in an excerpt of their latest great book, Why We Love the Church:

A search on a popular Christian bookseller’s Web site revealed no less than sixty-two items with the word manifesto in the title and hundreds containing the term revolutionary. There are revolutionary books for teens. Ditto for stay-at-home moms. There’s a book about how Jesus was a revolutionary communicator, and how you can use His revolutionary communication skills in your home/business/church. The question then becomes, If we’re all revolutionaries, are any of us an actual revolutionary? Being a revolutionary used to mean that you overthrew a government; now it means that you’re a courageous enough visionary to have church on a golf course or in someone’s living room.

My point in all of this is not to make not-so-subtle jabs at revolutionary culture (maybe a little bit); rather, it is to encourage the scores of nonrevolutionaries in our midst, of which I am one. I want to encourage those of us who try really hard to pray for our families and friends, try to read our Bibles consistently, and share the gospel with those around us. Those of us who aren’t ready to chuck centuries worth of church history, and years of unglamorous but God-glorifying growth in the name of revolution.

I’m also a part of the generation that has produced more memoirs before the age of thirty-five than any other in history. We’re crazy about Christian narrative nonfiction, especially those “on the road” stories, no matter how trite or contrived they may be. We’re journeyers. We’re wanderers. We still haven’t found what we’re looking for. Jack Kerouac’s (or Donald Miller’s…or Lauren Winner’s) wayward children are all over the Christian book landscape.

These narrative titles all follow a similar pattern, in that in them experiences are had (a cross-country road trip, a self-finding excursion through Europe, a documentary chronicling the lameness of American Christians, a chronicle on how the author dropped out of church and subsequently “found” Jesus), and then those experiences are shared in book form. Many of these books are supposed to tell us that “community” is the answer, and individualism is bad, but at the end of the day these books are largely about the individual and his or her discoveries.

I am looking forward to this book. Both Ted and Kevin have a great way of getting right to the point in a helpful way. Don’t go find yourself. Find God and love the church.