A Note from Bob: You’re reading a guest book review by Kyle Johnston. Learn more about Pastor Kyle by reading his bio at the end of this post. And read his review to learn why the church matters to you and to Christ.
A Committed Christian…But Not Committed to the Church?
It is fairly common for someone outside of our immediate church community to approach us with a counseling request. And to be asked to counsel someone is always an enormous privilege. In biblical counseling, we are dealing with difficult and intimate aspects of people’s lives, and to be given an invitation to help someone is a huge honor.
But if the person seeking help is disconnected from church, one of the things I customarily seek to do is to help my counselee consider the role of the local church—how belonging to a local church, really belonging, is a vital aspect of their relationship with Christ. Sadly, there is often a predictable response, usually something like:
“Oh, I like Jesus and I am a sincere Christian. But I don’t really have much time for the church. I don’t really see why I need it.”
This is an idea that we are hearing with increasing frequency—that a person can be a sincere Christian but not really be bothered about committing to a local church.
Belonging to Jesus and Belonging to His Church
Thankfully, in Sam Allberry’s excellent book, Why Bother with Church?, I have a very useful resource to respond with. At 94 pages, this book is very brief. Filled with personal illustrations and simple language, it’s an easy read.
But the reason I am excited about this book is the profound theological content Sam Allberry has managed to pack into it. He shows the reader both what the church is, and whose the church is.
Along the way we learn all sorts of helpful things, from the ordinances to church government. But primarily, the reader is struck with the importance of the church.
Sam Allberry argues, convincingly I think, that you cannot belong to Jesus and not belong to His church. To place your faith in Jesus is to join His church; it is to become part of His body. Therefore, one cannot serve the Lord Jesus without also serving His church.
The concept of a Christian disconnected from church is simply a foreign concept in the Bible. Sam looks at a number of biblical passages throughout to prove his various points. Yet, even while writing with conviction and biblical authority, he argues his points in a winsome manner, using a tone that engages and persuades the reader. For many folks who are sceptical (or have perhaps been hurt by the church), Sam’s warm tone will be helpful—and one of the reasons I would be glad to commend this book widely.
As I’ve already indicated, this resource will be extremely helpful for those who are not yet convinced that they need to join a particular local church. However, it may also be a useful reminder for pastors, biblical counselors, and anyone else who is concerned for the health of the local church. We need the local church, and the local church needs us. Sam does a fine job us showing us that being part of a local church is not simply a hobby, but vitally connected to our personal relationship with Jesus. Having read this book, I left it thinking (as Sam Allberry hopes we will), “Why on earth would I not bother with the church?”
Meet Pastor Kyle
Kyle Johnston: Kyle is Pastor of Care and Counselling at Jubilee Community Church in Cape Town, South Africa. Kyle both counsels and oversees the counselling ministry at Jubilee. He studied at the University of Stellenbosch before completing his Master’s Degree in Biblical Counselling from The Master’s University. Kyle is married to Kirsty, and has two daughters, Sophia and Zoë. He enjoys reading, running, and drinking good coffee.