Let's face it. Church isn't working. We hear sermons about the abundant life Jesus promised, but how many of us are actually living it? How many of our churches are thriving? How many people in our congregations are experiencing God's blessings? Maybe it's time to call it quits.
Quit church? Well, not exactly.
Drawing from his experience coaching hundreds of churches toward true growth, Chris Sonksen calls on us to quit our casual, cultural commitment to church as we know it. No more half-hearted attempts to win the favor of God and other people by doing the right thing. No more doing things out of a sense of duty. Instead, Sonksen reveals the spiritual habits that release the blessings of God, both on each individual and on the church. He explains why we struggle to put these practices into action and gives practical solutions to move us forward into health, growth, and maturity.
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Provocative title, perhaps a missed opportunity
Beyond the provacative title of the book lies its thesis: that one must quit a half-hearted commitment to the church (and Christ). Sonksen goes on to list several areas critical to the health of the church like giving, service, and evangelism, and how the church needs to have its 'members' view their role in the church more as owners for the church to be more effective in its communities.
But I think this book misses bigger opportunities to develop reader’s faith, with many chapters presenting a simplified optimistic future of a committed church.
As an example, consider his chapter on [quitting] giving money away. After reading the chapter, I came away feeling that in giving money, God would bless me. That simplicity belies the exact type of ‘fruit of the spirit' one develops in giving; furthermore, I would think Jesus is more concerned with the spirit in which you give (Mark 12:41-44), than in how much you give. In focusing specifically on a tithe (10% benchmark), it misses the opportunity on reconciling people into the church… e.g. giving something is better than nothing. Also lost in this blind focus on tithing is the encouragement of reader’s to be intentional in tithing - ensuring it serves a purpose. The opening vingette on skittles was a great launching pad into the chapter though, as well as the though-provoking statistics on giving now and during the great depression.
Other chapters are better, but exhibit the same rote paradigm… do an activity to the benefit of the church, and everyone wins. A more complete picture of faith would challenge reader's comfort, without connecting generic blessings to specific habits and practices. This expectation removes a right spirit of faith. (Eg, do you give because you expect to be blessed by it, or because you’re cheerful?)