Quit Church, Chris Sonksen (Foreword by Dave Ferguson). Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2018.
Summary: A challenge to quit a half-hearted commitment to church for lives of discipleship in six areas.
Chris Sonksen wants us to quit church. “Oh no!” I thought. “Another one of these emerging church types!” But I was intrigued as well–the title was a good hook for me. I was curious to find out what Sonksen was up to.
It turns out that what Sonksen wants is for us to quit our casual approaches to church. Quitting means saying no to particular ways of living in order to embrace a life of discipleship. Doing so will be a win both for us, and for our churches, that releases the blessings of God. He outlines six areas where we need to consider quitting and embracing whole-hearted, whole life discipleship:
- Quit expecting our churches to be heaven on earth and criticizing and gossiping against pastors and church leaders. Embrace a life of prayerful support, turning away from judgmentalism and gossip.
- Quit giving away your money when you can and commit to tithing, trusting God to provide.
- Quit helping when you can and find places to serve where the church’s and the world’s need and your gifts and passions meet. Disciples don’t wait to be asked.
- Quit hoping that people will come to church, and to Christ through the initiative of others. Pray for and invite them yourself. There are people we know who need the Lord and God wants us to be part of that–investing, inviting, and including them.
- Quit stopping by church when it is convenient and commit to weekly worship. Our lack of consistency robs us, robs others, and undermines the momentum of our church.
- Quit having, or being a “church friend,” someone whose relationships with others is a superficial weekly greeting, chat, or wave, and engage deeply with a smaller group of friends.
One chapter addresses each of these “quits” and in plain language spells out how our casual commitment is deadly to us and the church, and the “wins” we experience when we exchange this casual approach for a committed discipleship. The author shares his own journey, most memorably for me in his brief shared gym membership with former NBA star Ricky Berry. One day the two of them were alone in the gym, and Chris felt repeated promptings from God to speak to Berry, but did not, feeling awkward about approaching the celebrity. A few hours after leaving the gym, he learned of Berry’s suicide, and vowed never to say “no” to a prompting from God again to be an agent in his saving purposes.
There was part of me that felt “is that it? It all seems so simple.” And then I realized that it is not. I’ve seen the phenomena Sonksen talks about of inconsistent church attendance, throwing a few dollars in the offering, and helping out when one can. But I also worried about the “church busyness” that I have seen of people doing all the things Sonksen commends, but not experiencing a vital relationship with Christ. I do think this comes as we put feet to our walk with Christ in these ways, but the focus here seemed more on the personal and church wins achieved. This also felt very “church-centric,” focused around support of pastor and church leadership, attendance, church programming, and giving. I would have loved to seen a chapter on “quitting the sacred-secular split” and whole-heartedly serving Christ in the places most of us spend most of our waking hours–our work.
That is in no way to detract from the importance of quitting casual “churchiness” and unhealthy practices to embrace a more biblical involvement with one’s fellow believers. This is a good book for those longing for “something more” in their participation in the life of the body and his checklist at the end a good resource for self-examination as to whether we’ve become casual in our faith and need, in our own ways to “quit church” for something better.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.