This is the first book by author Larry Crabb (who has written twenty) that I have read and reviewed. Because the topic of “real church” resonates with me I was eager to examine Crabb’s discussion on what makes a real church and how we can find it. The book is organized in five parts: the first part is organized into four chapters under the general topic of why he doesn’t like going to church; Section 1 Why Should I Go to Church? Three Answers That Don’t Work For Me; Section II What Church Do I Want to Go To:; Section III Marks of the Church I Want to Be Part Of; and the final section consisting of two chapters of a closing statement of what he wants in a church and a postscript. The book also includes a sample of Crabb’s next book “66 Love Letters: Discover the Larger Story of the bible, One Book at a Time.”
The first fourteen chapters describe Crabb’s “disappointment and frustration” with church. Page xix gives a general statement of the church he does want to be a part of, but the reader waits until Chapter 15 for a partial answer to the question of what the church Crabb wants to belong to looks like.
Chapter 18 Mark #2: Respects the Necessary Ingredients in the Remedy for Addition is a clearly written chapter that provides the reader a place to develop the beginnings of understanding the author’s point. Chapter 19: Helping Me Become More Like Jesus, Inside—Where It Counts is similarly well written and of value.
Crabb speaks as a psychologist, and the statement on page 15 illustrates his style throughout most of the book:
“…church was designed by God to be the dance studio. A gathering becomes a church when a group of Christians together hear the music of heaven’s party and the laughter of God enjoying Himself and begin awkwardly dancing with the Trinity into the relationships and circumstances of life in order to bring heaven’s way of doing things to earth.”
What, exactly, does this mean? The book does not adequately explain. And I finished the book still not understanding exactly what “real church” looks like. For me, the answer is simple and straightforward, and the book added no clarity to any questions I might have had about some of the “happy-happy-joy-joy” churches we see on the landscape today.
I found the most valuable statement to the reader in Chapter 23, where Crabb states “I’m fighting a battle for my life that most churches don’t help me fight. And yes, it is a battle that Christ’s resurrection tells me I can win.” I applaud the clarity of this statement, but cannot commend the rest of the book to any but the most ardent fan of Mr. Crabb’s writing.