I am leary of writing about this book. But I want a discussion. I have seen others battle with these issues, and then they just disappear. We didn’t take time to get down and talk about it. And most of my current readers are still intimately linked to an established organized church body. I do not mean to offend. But this book and its issues are stirring in my soul like a tsunami, and I do not believe for a second that it’s anything other than the Holy Spirit doing the quaking. It’s too broad, and too worldwide. As well, I push myself to talk about where we’re going, rather than where we’re coming from.
This book is difficult to write about, but I must. It churns up so much in my heart. I have attended so many services where I sing, pray, listen, watch, say hello to a myriad of people I care about, but not enough to have them over or phone. Why is that? Because there are just too many people. I have known them for years, but our biggest contact is the infamous Sunday morning. Are we part of each other’s life? In a way. And maybe that’s my fault too. I haven’t yet learned how to be more community oriented. Or maybe it’s the fact we’re in the early child raising years. Or maybe many others feel exactly the same way.
Anyways, as so many more are, I am avidly searching of the definition of church – Christ’s definition. And the church that raised me (and to whom I am most grateful) I do not believe is it at its essence. It has too much else added on. It’s “Jesus +”. Neil Cole has, in my opinion, removed all the extra and found the essence, the DNA, of the church, at its simplest.
As for the plus part, he spends the first section showing that indeed, the church is sick. If it was healthy, it would be growing. It should be growing. The North American model (European), all the world over, is failing. These type of churches are stagnating. He talks with Christians in Japan, who for the most part follow a NA model of the church. He mentions how 3 months ago, the percentage of Christians in Japan was 1%. They laugh. Then he mentions that 1 year ago, 5 years ago, 100 years ago, the percentage was 1%. They are not laughing, but almost crying. What’s wrong? Later Cole mentions the Passion, directed by Mel Gibson. It made $600 million gross – a lot of people saw it. The assumption was that people would be saved by the thousands (assumptions by the churches anyways). Attendance grew nil (and attendance seems to be our litmus test). Why is that? Because the people are interested in Jesus, but not in the church.
We have a lot of repenting to do. I have a lot of repenting to do. It just never seems to happen on Sunday morning.