The Gift of Church: How God Designed the Local Church to Meet Our Needs as Christians - eBook
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|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Publication Date: 2010
All too many people are disappointed with the church, struggle with the church, or have already left the church. For example, Josh is the father of a young family. The demands (and illnesses) that go along with little children, traveling, friends coming for weekend visits and general busyness have kept him from getting his family very involved in church. Mason is an extremely successful businessman. He thinks the church is slow and inefficient. He shows up most weeks because his wife wants him to, but he hangs out with wealthy friends from around the country. They get together on a regular basis, pay for a speaker to come and talk to them and call it good. Jerrys is aware that he is not supposed to stop assembling together with other believers, but that is what he is doing, so whats the big deal? Mark is a single young adult who was coming to church and was getting involved, but his girlfriend pulled him away from church and hehas no rationale for why he should fight to stay involved. He drifted away and although people told him he needed to stay connected, he didnt see why they were so concerned. Char is a high school girl who doesnt like the youth group at church and only comes because her parents make her. She has asked her parents why she has to go to church and they havent been able to give her a good answer, except that it is something that she needs to do. In each of these cases, if they might not naturally pick up this book, Joshs brother, Masons son-in-law, Marks friend and Chars dad can give it to them to read. Or these who have influence with them can read it themselves to have a better understanding of the absolute necessity of active participation in a local church so that they could share verbally.Pollster George Barna claims in Revolution, that millions of American Christians are moving away from the traditional local church to alternative Christian communities or to no community at all. Leadership Journal published an article that argues that people want to turn to places other than the local church for community and teaching. The Pew Report released a study showing the number of people switching churches and those with no church affiliation has grown considerably. This is a very important and issue that needs to be addressed.This book addresses the issue so that church or parachurch small groups can read together and discuss the questions at the end of chapters. The book is designed to help readers more deeply value church and what church ought to look like. Five short chapters provide a helpful overview of the case for the church, using scripture and illustrated with stories from real life.
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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RachelMichiganAge: 25-34Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5The title sums it up!December 10, 2010RachelMichiganAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 5I 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.
Pastor DanWichita, KSAge: 55-65Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5Why belonging to a local church is beneficialNovember 24, 2010Pastor DanWichita, KSAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 5Pastor 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".
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