This was an unexpectedly beneficial read. I was expecting horror stories of fist-fights in the foyer, worship wars over the contemporary bagpipe harmonica band, or maybe pastors become crack addicts to make it through board meetings. Admittedly, that would have been a fun read, but less helpful. Bride(Zilla) did give plenty of honest stories, enough to know the authors had been on the receiving side of plenty of church hurt. But, the book offers hope for the church and ourselves, pushing back hard at the idea that all the hurt is caused by others, leaving us off the hook. Other than being convicted (how dare they), I loved the book.
I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more practical help for “What to Do When God’s People Hurt God’s People,” (the subtitle). Gluck and Martin did emphasize that the gospel has the power to reconcile severed relationships, and pushed back hard on the idea to simply run away to solve our problems.
The book also jumps around a bit, hitting on some tangents that seem to be big issues for the authors. The church not focusing on singles is one. And the idea that that the church has become a place of entitlement for spoiled believers is another. It was a bit of a tangent, but the chapter on entitlement was one of my favorites, helping to me to think through why we do what we do, and how we might unintentionally be enabling the entitlement mentality at our church. Here are some quotes from that section. . .
“There’s a lot of talk these days about entitlement…. The disease of entitlement has historically had just as much of a hold on the church as anywhere else… Let me get straight to the gist of this chapter: the overflow of an ungrateful heart is consumerism… We attend church to be served, not to serve. We attend church to be won over, not to worship. We attend church to complain, not to confess… we simply attend, and we believe the church should attend to the space that we’re paying tithes to fill… The problem, of course, is that consumerism in the church creates causalities.”
As a pastor, I can say with some experience that there are times when church sucks – and times when it is the most wonderful, powerful, life-changing place on the planet. This book had to focus on the ugly side of church, but somehow, for me, it ended up being medicine for healing some of the old hurts, and helped me realize how I was part of the problem.
I loved this encouraging line: “The hurt is not the deepest thing. Grace is deeper still.”
I was hoping I’d get a new car for writing this review. Had that been the case, I might have lied. However, all I got was a book free from the Blogging for Books Blogger Review Program. As a result, I was honest. Dang it.