New Hope Publishers
Tom Blackaby’s new book, Experiencing God’s Love in the Church, is a powerful and honest look at the modern community and church family. The book covers what it means, in a godly way, to love church members, newcomers, and those in need. Blackaby is definitely an authority on this topic. He has been in ministry for more than twenty-five years and has preached in some twenty-seven countries. Blackaby’s own experiences help give life to every point he makes.
The book’s title is incredibly accurate. The descriptions and ideas presented are honest and practical methods to bring the church community together. Blackaby does not sugarcoat any of his points and all the blunt facts are put in the open. Every example is hard hitting and really causes the reader to face some darker parts of church life. From adulterous pastors to power-hungry deacons, from the lost souls who flit between churches to the lonely folks looking for acceptance, there is no aspect of the church’s problems that Blackaby doesn’t cover. He is never harsh in his message, however. With each negative example, he is instructive and encouraging, showing how churches can address these problems or avoid these pitfalls. There is also an abundance of biblical evidence to back each point. There are an astonishing number of verses that relate to godly love in the community.
There are only a few issues with the style of writing. A number of chapters, especially toward the end, drag on for a good deal longer than really necessary. Most of the chapters could have been cut into two separate chapters. Some ideas repeat themselves more times than necessary, making it feel a little like the reader is being force-fed some points. The bolded side notes do not add to each section’s message and only repeat a line from the paragraph. Blackaby also uses various translations of the Bible in the verses he cites, which does offer different perspectives, but can be confusing at times.
Despite the few style issues, Experiencing God’s Love in the Church is a book that could change how many churches operate. Each page contains numerous lessons on how love can change the mentality of pastors, congregations, and the hurting souls who are seeking help. I recommend this book to church leaders, church members, church planters, and anyone who wants to see churches grow. Blackaby’s message needs to be heard in churches everywhere. A new wave of community and godly love could well be on its way, starting in these pages. – Todd Naevestad, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
The church is not dead, nor does it need to be abandoned as some think. It is still a body that can best demonstrate the heart of God to a needy world. Many have looked at the church with all its flaws and turned their backs on it saying it has passed its prime. The main reason for this is that the church has lost its love for one another and consequently for God. While the church may serve God, try to please God, and make efforts to obey God, love is sadly missing. This lack of love for one another manifests itself through church splits, lack of loyalty, ostracizing those who disagree, turning on one another over insignificant reasons, church hopping, firing pastors, etc.
Experiencing God's Love in the Church seeks to challenge believers to renew their commitment to loving one another, and in so doing, returning to what Christ intended His body to look like. When the world sees God’s people truly loving one another, they will then be more apt to see how the Father sent the Son as a demonstration of His love for them.