The Gift of Church: How God Designed the Local Church   to Meet Our Needs As Christians  -     By: Jim Samra
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The Gift of Church: How God Designed the Local Church to Meet Our Needs As Christians

Zondervan / 2010 / Paperback

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In a day when the local church is met with skepticism and is often misunderstood, many Christians and non-Christians alike conclude that the local church is an accessory to genuine faith, not really necessary for a genuine connection with God. But Jim Samra believes that God provides a different vision for the church, a vision that reveals God's purpose in creating the church for his people. The Gift of Church explains and defends the unappreciated genius of the church as God's creation.

The truth is that the local church is where God is uniquely present in worship and where believers experience and receive unique benefits that only God can bestow. Samra first tackles the question of what really is a 'true' local church (as well as an explanation of what is not a local church). He then explores six ways in which the church is beneficial for Christians---and the world.

If people want to see God and receive spiritual nurture, there is a God-designed way for them to experience God's blessings. The church is God's gift---showing us how God is redeeming our diversity and our differences, enabling us to experience true community, and furthering the mission of sharing the message and ministry of Jesus with the world.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 128
Vendor: Zondervan
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 8.00 X 5.30 (inches)
ISBN: 031029309X
ISBN-13: 9780310293095
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

In a day when the local church is met with skepticism and is often misunderstood, many Christians and non-Christians alike conclude that the local church is an accessory to genuine faith, not really necessary for a genuine connection with God. But Jim Samra believes that God provides a different vision for the church, a vision that reveals God’s purpose in creating the church for his people. The Gift of Church explains and defends the unappreciated genius of the church as God’s creation. The truth is that the local church is where God is uniquely present in worship and where believers experience and receive unique benefits that only God can bestow. Samra first tackles the question of what really is a “true” local church (as well as an explanation of what is not a local church). He then explores six ways in which the church is beneficial for Christians—and the world. If people want to see God and receive spiritual nurture, there is a God-designed way for them to experience God’s blessings. The church is God’s gift—showing us how God is redeeming our diversity and our differences, enabling us to experience true community, and furthering the mission of sharing the message and ministry of Jesus with the world.

Author Bio

Jim Samra is a servant of Jesus Christ currently ministering as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, MI, a job which forces him to depend on God daily. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Dallas Theological Seminary, and the University of Oxford, and is also the author of the book Being Conformed to Christ in Community. Jim and his wife, Lisa, have four very young children and are happy but tired most of the time.

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  1. Rachel
    Michigan
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    The title sums it up!
    December 10, 2010
    Rachel
    Michigan
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I chose Jim Samra's The Gift of Church for my first official book review on my blog. I do believe the local church is a gift to Christians, and I am saddened when I hear loved ones express the frustrations and difficulties they have experienced within their own local church. I read in anticipation, eager to find some truths that I could share with these loved ones to encourage them to persevere in their trials.

    In his introduction, Samra acknowledges that the church has been hypocritical, among other things, "and worst of all has been these things while claiming to represent God". With all the failures of the church, why is it so important for Christians to be involved? Simply put, "God designed and created the church for our benefit and for his glory". The church is God's idea!

    Samra walks the reader through the different parts of Scripture, showing what God designed the church to be and how He designed it to function. Samra clearly points out the difference between churches and parachurch organizations and shows the benefits that can only truly be found in churches. He also candidly discusses possible hindrances to the community that should be found in the church. His conclusion brings the reader back to the fact that the church is the place where "God's infinite grace is highlighted". What a great reminder that the church is God's design, and it is intended for His glory.

    I would encourage any of you who are questioning the importance of being involved in a local church to read this book. Although the writing was somewhat difficult to follow at times, the content was excellent. Samra does not attempt to ignore or sugar-coat the problems that are all too often found in our churches, but addresses them with candor. Perhaps the problems in our churches actually stem from the heart attitudes of you and me. Or perhaps the answer to the problems in our churches is actually the involvement and dedication of you and me.
  2. Pastor Dan
    Wichita, KS
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Why belonging to a local church is beneficial
    November 24, 2010
    Pastor Dan
    Wichita, KS
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Pastor Samra points out that his purpose in writing this book is not to push a certain model of church, his purpose is to answer the question, "What benefit is the church?" In the introduction he points out a multitude of reasons why people don't attend a local church, he also points out how the church at times does a poor job of being wholesome and building.

    I was shocked by a statistic that he shared, when polled, 60% of Americans believe that church attendance is unnecessary. Instead, you just need to spend your own time with God reading and praying and that's enough.

    So, by attend church? What's the benefit to me the Christian? What's the benefit for God that I attend church? Those are all issues that need to be addressed.

    For the purpose of this book the definition of church is a local body of believers who gather together for the purpose of growing in Christ and sharing the Gospel with others. The book does not address the Church Universal which is the entire Body of Believers in Christ. The local church is a local representation of the Church Universal.

    The first benefit of being in church is that "God is uniquely present when the church assembles." It is one thing to know of God, it is quite a different thing to know God. How do you experience that intimacy? In the Old Testament this was first displayed at Mt. Sinai when God spoke to the nation of Israel. He then instructed them to build the Tabernacle so He could have a presence with them. Once they settled in the promised land they build the Temple where God resided.

    In the New Testament Jesus took this further when he said he was building His Church and that where two or three are gathered in His name there would He be also (Matt. 18:20). While God is everywhere (Omnipresent) He is most uniquely among us when we are gathered together in "assembly" before Him.

    In Chapter two Pastor Samra talks about Diversity. God created us male and female (the first diversity) but then ethnicity also rose up. Were Adam and Eve Jewish, African, Asian, Caucasun, etc.? God says all people groups will be present in Heaven. For that to happen we the church will have to reach outside of our ethnicity and touch others. But then again diversity finds it's way into the local church. Each person is different from the one next to him or her. We have different likes / dislikes, different values, different loyalites (to sports teams or musical groups).

    The gift of church allows us to gather this diverse group together who all have one goal, that is to bring honor and glory to God. Some will bring their gift of music, others their gift of writing, others their gift of speech or drama, etc. etc. You can't find this diversity by just having church in your home. You need the larger body of Christ to find that diversity and thus experience all that God wants you to experience.

    Well, this review is getting a bit long. So, I will stop here. I really enjoyed this book and feel that it is a great read for everyone who attends church. It will help to remind you why we fellowship / worship together in community. You will be encouraged and I hope that through reading you will be challenged to look at your church family and worship experience with new eyes.

    Remember Jesus told us that He would build His Church (Assembly). Thus it was very important to Him and should be important to each of us His children. Pastor Samra's book will help remind you why it is so precious and thus a "gift".

    Enjoy!
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