Last week I thoroughly enjoyed reading John Crotts’ Loving the Church: God’s People Flourishing in God’s Family (Shepherd Press, 2010). I had an opportunity to skim this book before it was published, but couldn’t slate the time to give it a thoughtful read. I knew then from the introduction that this would be a useful volume once read, and I was correct. The other thing that moved this book to the top of my list was seeing Martha Peace, a member of Crotts’ church in the Atlanta area, busily commending and passing out copies of the book when we were in Brazil. When your members take your book to foreign countries to give it away to as many people as possible, you’ve probably done a very good job. And Crotts has indeed.
If you’re looking for a book that helps people see the importance of the local church family, understand whey being a member of a church is for their spiritual good, shows them how they may serve in the church, and does all that in plain, accessible, engaging style without being preachy or too denomination-specific, I happily commend Loving the Church.
Part I: What Is God’s Family? offers an introductory but thorough look at the local church in the Scriptures. This is the doctrinal section, but don’t let that make you think “snooze.” Crotts uses a fictional encounter between friends in a coffee shop as an engaging way of (a) representing the different perspectives real people have on the church–the young hipster, the hurt Christian, the we’re too busy, and the uninformed, and (b) demonstrating how doctrine matters to these real everyday concerns. This is a book that any Christian of whatever biblical understanding may read and profit from doctrinally.
Part II: How You Fit Into God’s Family unpacks the doctrinal section by making some good applications. Crotts continues to offer biblical counsel and to avoid the often pragmatic and moralistic tendencies found in many such discussions. People will be helped without being burdened because this section of application is seasoned with grace and freedom. In the section are really skillful discussions of spiritual gifts and how to discern them (hint: not with questionnaires), loving correction and why we should participate in it, and how to support and love elders and deacons in the local church. Really helpful stuff.
In the end, this is a book I’d be happy for every member of my church to read. It just may be that one book I use to introduce people to a high and joyful view of the local church. Thank you, Bro. Crotts, for investing in the Lord’s church with this book!
Here’s Crotts discussing the book: