Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: The Church Awakening - by Chuck Swindoll

The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal

The Church Awakening: 
An Urgent Call for Renewal
by Charles R. Swindoll

5.0 out of 5 stars

This book does a great job of challenging today's churches to renew their focus and ministries. I highly recommend it be read by Bible teachers, church leaders, and especially pastors who bear much of the responsibility for what is being preached. It should also be read by church elders called to keep their pastors and teachers accountable (at least if they are sincerely interested in having a spiritually healthy church that lines up with what God's Word says "The Church" should do). Anyone that is currently looking for a new church would do well to read the book too, as it could be used as a practical tool to provide guidance for what one should look for (and avoid) when seeking a new church home.

CHAPTER 1 has an abundance of quotes and discussion from the Book of Acts, which defines many attributes a church should have.

CHAPTER 2 explains some of the challenges, struggles, solutions, and priorities churches should have.

CHAPTER 3 explains how a church can be contagious when its pastor preaches the Word of God, its members encourage one another, and its teachers teach biblical truths. This chapter also discusses some things a church should not do (more about this favorite section of mine can be found below).

CHAPTER 4 examines how worship should be something we do, not fight about.

CHAPTER 5 explains that the church must realize it is not going to live harmoniously with this world given scripture is clear that it will not. Just as Jesus was rejected by the world, so shall Christians.

CHAPTER 6 explains how the church should act against the enemy (particularly the world and Satan), and it helps us recognize some of the warfare and tactics the enemy uses.

CHAPTER 7 points out how the church has drifted from solid biblical teaching.

CHAPTER 8 provides hope that churches can return to a hunger and thirst for the Word of God and righteousness, and provides some advise for doing so.

One of my favorite sections begins on page 88 and continues for several pages. In essence, Chuck mentions 2 Timothy 4:2 wherein it reads, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction." Chuck makes the point that everything else falls short of preaching the Word of God in the pulpit. He goes on to explain, quite accurately, that way too many churches are failing their mission to teach from the Bible. Rather, they have resorted to marketing strategies and a harmful fixation on entertaining, being "politically correct", being "relevant", and being "in touch".

Having just authored a book which explains that in the end days there will be an "Increase of Apostasy in the Church", Chapter 3 of Chuck's book is especially intriguing since they match up so well. In essence, Pray That You May Escape, a book about end times Bible prophecy, devotes a major chapter to the second parts of the aforementioned verses in Chuck's book. That is, in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 we read, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." The Bible forewarns us that preachers (and others), appealing to people's "itching ears", will turn away from sound biblical teaching and replace it with "feel good theology" (my words) that fails to address man's sinful nature.

Chuck makes another good point with the verses found in Matthew 28:19-20 where we read, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." He accurately points out that the command does not just say we evangelize and then the mission is over. Rather, we are to teach people to obey everything that God commanded. A disciple is not one that has a shallow understanding of God's Word and while everyone must start at the beginning, at some point solid spiritual food must be provided within the Church.

This book has many good points that should be read. It addresses the need for fellowship, worship, and prayer; but most of all, to me, it ministers to the point that we must preach and teach from God's Word above all else.

Finally, for anyone that is searching for a church home, I would like to end with these important words from Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Jeffrey R. Camino, Author
Pray That You May Escape

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