When I saw the title of the book Jesus Called–He Wants His Church Back, I laughed outloud, and knew I had to read the book. I’ve read many books over the past few years about the American church and why the authors feel like, in their opinion, the American church is dying, so I knew that this book would be in the same vein, calling for a more radical faith and reminding us what the purpose of the church is.
In Ray Johnston’s case, he begins by building a compelling case of how American culture has lost it’s distinctive Christian flavor, slowly, one degree at a time over the past seven decades. He also explains why worldview is so important, and how few professed Christians in the United States affirm a Biblical worldview.
The rest of the book is spent detailing the author’s opinion on how Christians can be more motivated, more committed and better followers of Jesus. This includes a lot of lists. In fact, every chapter is organized into lists with titles such as, “five tips to breaking free from the idols of safety,” “three things that are killing your spiritual life,” and “six things early Christ followers majored in.”
I’m not a huge fan of list making, so I will freely admit that seeing the continual lists really exhausted me after a while. It also made me feel like I was at a pep-rally on the 20 steps to be a better Christian or the 37 ways I’m deficient as a follower of Jesus. (Note: Those aren’t actual lists in the book.) So, I was not a fan of this aspect of the book, and I found myself tuning out of portions of the book after I’d read a few of the lists through.
I also find that I’m beginning to feel uninterested in this style of book and the related sermons that we hear. I find that most Christians are doing the best they can, and as they grow in their relationship with the Lord, he will guide and direct him. They just have to be open to it. I don’t think these lists do anything truly for us except to make us feel like we can be super Christians if we are able to check certain things off a list. I also think that, by design, these kinds of books make people feel like spiritual failures because they feel that they aren’t “doing enough.” I don’t think any of that is the author’s intention. I think he just wants to point out what he sees as wrong in our culture and suggest some ideas for correcting it through the church, but I still think the net effect is to make one feel more than a little “less than” as they meander through the pages of this book.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.