I was recently given a copy of Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back by Ray Johnston to review. I enjoy reading books. I really enjoy reading books about the Christian church. This post will be my thoughts from reading this book.
Anyone who has spent a decent amount of time in a North American Christian church and compared it with what they read in the New Testament book of Acts will notice that something is different. I know that as times change certain things have to change. The best way that I heard this put is “the message is never changing but the methods have to change.”
In Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back, Johnston talks about how the picture of Christianity has changed since the 1950s. He states that
- In the 1950s, we lost innocence.
- In the 1960s, we lost respect for authority.
- In the 1970s, we lost love.
- In the 1980s, we lost values.
- In the 1990s, we lost faith.
- In the 2000s, we lost security.
- In the 2010s, we lost hope in the future.
He also goes on to share that the time we are living in now is one that is far better than any time before.
- We have better resources.
- We have world-class buildings.
- We have corporate-level leadership.
- We have better communications.
If we have all these “betters,” then why does the church look so different? Why is it struggling so much in our culture today?
Johnston’s book is divided into two basic parts: ways we have gone wrong and the Jesus that most people miss. In the first part, Johnston shares that thoughts such as hedonism, materialism, pragmatism, humanism, and fatalism have found their way into the life of the church.
In the second part, Johnston shares seven characteristics of Jesus that are (by his definition) missed by many people who are in the church today. By missing these characteristics of Jesus, Johnston shares that the church in North America has gotten off-track.
As one who has spent the good portion of my life in the North American church, I see a lot of what Johnston is writing about in this book. It does not take one long to see the distance of many churches in our land from what we read about in the pages of the Bible. I do not believe that it is too late though. I still believe that “the local church is the hope of the world” (Billy Hybels). That is because it is the local church has the responsibility of taking the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back is another work that brings light to the ways in which the church is falling short on its task. I didn’t really find anything “new” in this book. It had some good stats and attempts at humor at points. Johnston reminds readers of some ways to get back to the point where the church needs to be.
If you are looking for some new insights to the current state of the North American church, this book doesn’t really give them to you. If you are looking for another book to remind and encourage you to help make the church what it should be, then this book might just be for you.