The Heart, Character, and Life of the Church (Book Review)

by | Feb 7, 2017 | David Appelt

Moody Publishing was kind enough to provide us with a review copy of The Heart of the Church, the Character of the Church, and the Life of the Church by Joe Thorn. The following is a review of this desperately needed work.

Most people have questions about the church that they have not even thought to ask. Many people are new to Christianity and are left confused as to why they should be going to a church, what the word “fellowship” means, or what the full implications of the gospel are. Sadly, many in America’s church-going population might be just as confused on these topics. Most people in the Western world don’t really understand what the church believes, what a biblical church looks like, or what the Church’s priorities should be. The danger in this is felt in the first few lines of Joe Thorn’s newest series on the Church: The Heart, The Character, and the Life of the Church.

The church today has a heart condition. She has not taken care of herself. As a result, she is sick… The Heart problem plaguing the modern church cannot be healed with new programs or innovative marketing tactics. The root problem for many local churches is that the gospel no longer fills their hearts. We have been captivated by issues of secondary importance and have slowly drifted from our first love.

 Joe Thorn, The Heart of the Church

The Need

Many in the pews today would even give different answers as to what the core of the gospel is. Since we no longer are a people captivated by the good news of the gospel, our churches become focused on secondary issues: the music we play, sense of community we feel, programs the church has to entertain our kids (or ourselves). We no longer hold the gospel as the end all and be all of what our churches need to focus on. The gospel is what keeps us from consumerism, and the great lack of it in our churches is why the American church is deeply consumeristic. That is not merely a problem “out there,” for other people. This is a problem “in house,” one that we need to inspect our own churches and ourselves for. These books will help you do just that.

These books are necessary. After reading these books, you will be challenged, encouraged, and left with a biblical understanding of everything from the gospel to Sunday worship to how to make disciples in your neighborhood.

These books are short! They don’t waste time or use filler words. You will be able to read them quickly all at once, or read them in shorter segments. Most books that are published today have plenty of words and pages that are only there to make the book thicker. Not so in this series. Each page is functional and intentional. None of these books waste time messing around, they get right to the point.

no matter who you are

These books are for you, no matter who you are. They are not written with big words, but words that anyone can understand and learn from. If you are a church goer who is struggling to know why you should go to church, why you have pastors, or what your calling is, these books will help you out in a great way.

If you are a pastor who thinks you already know everything about how to run a local church, read these books anyway. You will be challenged to make sure you have biblical expectations and a biblical vision in place for your church. You will be encouraged and it will help you reorient yourself on your true mission (proclaiming the good news).

These books will help anyone, the person who has studied for 50 years, and the one who came to Christ 5 days ago.

As Joe says, “what the church is determines what the church does.” Therefore, we need to take the time to know what the church is. So many of us, whether we are congregation members, church planters, or pastors, need to grow in our knowledge of the local church so that we can truly be on mission with God.

A verdict

Without this knowledge, we are left going through the routines of church-dom and religion because it’s merely “what we do on Sundays.” Don’t you want more than rote routine? Don’t you want to go to church and grow instead of go to church out of guilt or sense of duty?

Your church can be more, your involvement can be more. Your pursuit of God’s great redemptive mission can be more, and these books will help that happen.

Pick up one, or pick up all three, just don’t let the chance to read these slip through your fingers.

Pre-Orders and Resource Links

The Heart of the Church by Joe Thorn
The Character of the Church by Joe Thorn
The Life of the Church by Joe Thorn
Prophet, Priest, and King: A Book Review by Josh Sommer
The Prodigal Church (another helpful book) by Jared C. Wilson

David Appelt serves as the creative arts director at NewLife Community Church in Canal Winchester, Ohio. He graduated from Capital University with an emphasis on Music Ministry. He plans on pursuing pastoral ministry in the future.