Book Review: Letters To The Church

Imagine you find yourself stranded on a deserted island with nothing but a copy of the Bible. You have no experience with Christianity whatsoever, and all you know about the Church will come from your reading of the Bible. How would you imagine a church to function? Seriously. Close your eyes for two minutes and try to picture "Church" as you would know it. 

Now think about your current church experience. Is it even close? 

Can you live with that?

These are the opening words of the book "Letters to The Church," by Francis Chan. Our leadership team studied it together back in 2019, and wrestled through many of its difficult lessons... particularly the ones where the early church is contrasted with the American church. We had to come to grips with Chan's underlying argument that something is, quite in fact, wrong with the American Evangelical church. The consumerism that defines our shopping behaviors, our entertainment choices, and our social interactions with one another, has become part of the hallmark of our churches as a whole... regardless of its size.

As the Bride of Christ, the local church should be known as a loving community, humble in service, with faithful pastors, a readiness to suffer, and an overwhelming hunger for missions both locally and globally. This is what is pictured for us in the Book of Acts, and what was ultimately commissioned by Jesus Christ himself when he told His followers to "Go into all the world..."

Francis Chan does a good job in this book of sharing mission stories from around the world where Gospel minded churches are thriving, as well as deconstructing what went wrong with the American church. However, our leadership team concluded after reading this book, that the author does little to help us to reconstruct things in a way that would please the Lord. And really, isn't that what we need to be at work doing?

A year later, the American church in 2020 comes to the table with a vastly different landscape in front of us. Our snow globe has been shaken considerably by a global pandemic, and our churches have been pressed to strip away all that is unnecessary, and focus on only the essentials needed. Essentials required for Christ-centered worship experiences, for Biblically nurturing relationships, and for Apostolically oriented mission efforts. Isn't this closer to the snapshot you pictured in your head earlier? 

For the churches in America who carved away at what was standard, and found what was absolutely necessary... We've made some steps in the right direction. Let us not lose this focus when the world returns to "normal."  

 - Pastor Milo


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