Friday, August 28, 2009

Real Church: Does it exist? Can I find it? by Larry Crabb

Real Church: Does it exist? Can I find it? by Larry Crabb


How it was obtained:
Purchased from

Time spent on the "to read" shelf:
About two months.

Days spent reading it:
A week.

Why I read it:
The senior pastor at my church recommended reading this book, and he also is preaching through a series based on some ideas in this book. I figured I'd get off to a good start and read what he was thinking through.

Brief review:
Real Church is the attempt by Larry Crabb to respond the charge that church is not worth getting up for on Sunday mornings. People are usually alright following Jesus, but don't particularly care for his bride.

Crabb gives three (unfulfilling) reasons why people tend to say they go to church. Going to church will make my life better. Going to church will show you how Jesus wants you to change the world. Going to church is all about saving lost souls and helping the already saved to be visibly moral. These are alright reasons, but they still leave us wanting more.

Crabb then goes on to give 4 marks of a church that are helpful (to Crabb at least). I'll paraphrase. 1. Hungers for truth. 2. Desires spiritual formation (and recognizes we are all in need of spiritual formation). 3. Community-centered. 4. Engaged with those outside the church.

I thought this book was alright. My criticism is that Crabb is basing what Church should look like based on his felt need as a broken human. I love that Crabb is open about our brokenness (a good theology is man is based on the fact that we are sinful). But I don't think what the church should look like or feel like to us today should be based on our felt needs. I wish Crabb would have gone back to the Bible and worked from that superior source material to point us to what church should actually look like.

Not that Crabb is wrong, or has bad ideas, or anything like that. He is surrounded by a biblical worldview, and I actually resonate with a number of his ideas. But the solution to the fact that (post)modern people do not care for church should not be based on how we feel or what we think we need. Instead it should be based on what God actually intended for the church to be.

This book could have been a great discussion on what the church should be based on what God wants it to be. Instead it's a discussion on what church should be like based on what Larry Crabb (and many others who feel the same way as Crabb) wants it to be. Then again, I know this is not meant to be a theological discussion on the church. It is simply a discussion about the church based on years of discontent.

Does a church that I want to be a part of exist out there? Absolutely! I've been there. I've belonged to a church that completely modeled Acts 2:42-47. But I also recognize that was not the norm for churches. So I completely sympathize with people who are frustrated with the same old-same old church. There is something more out there for people stuck in that church. It can be found. Keep examining the New Testament and the (very broken) church it depicts and realize that God intends for something more, but he also works with what we have. He takes broken churches and still uses them to accomplish his work in this world. All you have to do is look through Romans or Corinthians to recognize that the early church was not picturesque even in the early days.

Alright, enough rambling. Real Church was an alright book, but I wanted it to be great. Kind of like the church Crabb describes.

Favorite quote:
"I long to be a part of a church that somehow connects what we do when we meet together to who I am when I'm alone. And I want that connection to release the power that can transform me into a lover of God and a lover of others."

3 out of 5.

Final Word:

1 comment:

Rob said...

Patrick, I think some of Crabb's later writings tend to be this way. I think my thoughts are similar to yours. The greatest quote was yours: "He takes broken churches and still uses them to accomplish his work in this world." Accepting that reality is so important.