“An encouraging but challenging read.”
I have just finished reading Sam Allberry's little book 'Why bother with church?' (The Good Book Company, 2016). As it says on the back cover, 'This short, realistic but optimistic book explains clearly and simply from the Bible what the church really is, why it is both brilliant and frustrating, and why it is wonderful to be part of it.' And it does exactly what it says on the label; great for new Christians, longer-in-the-tooth Christians, and perhaps even for those not-yet-Christians who are a bit puzzled about what church is all about.
The book finishes with these words: 'The church is the way in which God showcases his wisdom to the spiritual realms. It is how he demonstrates the power and beauty of the gospel. Nothing else in the universe can fuse such varied people together into a new humanity. Only the person and work of Jesus can do this. When the church gathers to worship - whether in Dallas or Dubai, Durham or Delhi - the supremacy of Christ is once again being placarded across the spiritual realms.
Why bother with church? Because it is the most important show in town. What goes on when a church meets is far grander than we tend to realise.
It is God's family.
It is God's embassy in this world.
It is 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 (and I) 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?'
I may not fully agree with everything Sam has written but I have found this to be such a very thorough exposition of Scriptural truth by someone whose love for the church, with all its flaws, shines through. An encouraging and a challenging read.