These 20 quotes caught my attention as I read the timely book Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ Is Essential by Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman (Crossway, 2021).
A Christian without a church is a Christian in trouble. (11)
God does not invite us to church because it’s a comfortable place to find a bit of spiritual encouragement. No, he invites us into a spiritual family of misfits and outcasts. He welcomes us into a home that’s rarely what we want yet just what we need. (13)
You have many reasons not to rediscover church and one reason why you must: because through these people you don’t much like, God wants to show his love to you. It’s the only kind of love that can draw us out of ourselves and into a fellowship that transcends the forces tearing apart our sick world. It’s the only essential way for us to find healing together. Beyond all that, your church is where Christ says he’s present in a unique way. We would even dare to say that your church and ours is where heaven touches down on earth—where our prayers begin to be answered: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (18)
Heaven touches down on planet earth through our gathered churches. And when this happens, you offer the citizens of your nation the hope of a better nation, the residents of your city the hope of a better and lasting city. No matter what challenges you face as an American or non-American, ethnic minority or majority, rich or poor, your hope for a just and peaceful society should not rest on the kingdoms of this world. It should rest on the King himself, who is establishing his heavenly kingdom in the outposts we call the local church. (25)
Praise God that we can “download” biblical truths virtually. But let’s [also] praise God that the Christian life is more than just an information transfer. When church is only online, we can’t feel, experience, and witness those truths becoming enfleshed in the family of God, which both fortifies our faith and creates cords of love between brothers and sisters. Virtual church is an oxymoron. . . . The Christian life and the church life cannot finally be downloaded. It must be watched, heard, stepped into, and followed. (51–52)
Yes, gathering with the church can be inconvenient, but so is love. Relationships are messy, but so is love. Vulnerable conversations are scary, but so is love. (53)
It’s possible for preachers to sound like bold truth tellers when they only speak harshly about people outside their churches. They may sound courageous, but they never actually challenge the people who pay their bills. In fact, that might be the greatest challenge most preachers face. How can they preach the Bible and nothing but the Bible without stepping on more than a few toes? How can they say hard and truthful things to people who control their livelihoods and could remove them and their families from their houses and communities? (61)
No wonder it feels as if our churches can’t get on the same page! We’re not prioritizing the same pages of Scripture. The churches that will emerge strongest through the aftermath of COVID-19 will be those that differentiated between God’s Word preached in power and the countless other words that vied for our dwindling attention. (63)
Hearing the sermon isn’t just about you and your personal walk with Jesus. It’s also about shaping a heavenly culture and building a heavenly city in your very church. It’s about shaping a life together. (66)
Church membership offers the safety of the sheep pen, where Christ is shepherd. It offers the nourishment of being attached to a body, like an arm to a torso, where Christ is the head. It offers the love of a family, where Christ is the firstborn of many heirs. It offers the obligations and duties of citizenship in a holy nation, where Christ is the King. (78)
Church membership is an assumed reality on nearly every page of the New Testament Epistles, but the language is different. Membership in the church is membership in a family. It comes with family obligations. It’s membership in a body. It comes with all the dynamics of being connected to every other part. Every biblical metaphor for the church helps us to understand what membership is, and all of them are necessary, because there is nothing else in the world like the church. (81)
Church membership is not a passive thing. It’s not just a status. It’s not like membership in a country club, a shopper’s club, or a gas station rewards program. It’s a job where you go to work. You need to get job training. You need to engage it with your mind and heart. You need to think about making an impact. What are you going to produce this week? Are you benefiting the whole team and carrying your weight or are you slacking off? (83)
Those who oppose and disobey God are running away from love. They are choosing something besides love, even if they call it love. (95)
Abuse is terrible, [and] a church that ignores it is at least as bad, precisely because God has commissioned churches to be places of redress, remedy, and restoration for all the injustices the world throws at us, including abuse and assault. . . . The solution is not to abandon churches. It’s to make sure our churches are opening the Bible and grabbing hold of the very tool God has provided to (at best) prevent or (at worst) guide a response to abuse: a culture of discipleship and discipline. A church that practices discipline in a humble, loving, and responsible fashion should never need a #MeToo or #ChurchToo movement in the first place. (98)
The body is a fellowship of differents. We are not alike, and we need each other. . . . This model does not offer the fastest way to build the largest church. But it’s the most durable way to build a healthy church. (109)
It might seem easier to look for a church where everyone thinks, votes, and sins the same way you do. It’s better for your spiritual growth, however, to hunker down in a fellowship of differents. . . . You want to find a church that grabs this world’s attention? Find a church that looks like the world to come. (110)
Too often, Christians and churches become so preoccupied with redeeming the culture or transforming the city that they fail to get their own houses in order. As we’ve labored to say throughout this book, churches must first seek to become redeemed cultures and transformed heavenly cities. Only then can their love, good works, and pursuit of justice spill outward with integrity. When this happens, the beleaguered citizens of this world and its failed revolutions may then seek refuge through our embassy door. (121–22)
If I believe you live with integrity, love me, and have my best interests in mind, it will be easier for me to receive your words of instruction or correction, even the tough stuff. If I don’t trust these things about you, I’m going to second-guess and doubt everything you say, even the easy stuff. A healthy church, therefore, has leaders who are trustworthy but also people who are willing to trust. (134)
Find a church where you can trust the pastors enough that you’ll allow them to challenge you when necessary. Don’t just look for a church that will confirm everything you already know. (136)
When I (Collin) talk with new church members, I make a big promise. And so far, no one has ever returned to complain that I misled them. I promise that if they show up consistently (in our church, that means corporate worship on Sunday and home group on Wednesday) and seek to care for others, they will get everything they want out of the church. That could be spiritual growth, friendships, biblical knowledge, or practical help. They will get whatever they want from the church by fulfilling just those two simple tasks. (147)
Other Christians need you more than you can realize. One day you’ll understand how much you needed them, too. (148)
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