The book begins at a coffee shop. As the beginning chapter unfolds, each of the main characters progressively enters the shop and engages in a multi-layered conversation about the local church. The reader finds out the most of the individuals are either disenchanted and/or frustrated at their present ecclesiastical situation. John (who plays the role of leader and facilitator) encourages each of these individuals to commit to a weekly study on what the Bible has to say about “church”. The group agrees and the rest of the book attempts to present a biblical ecclesiology while stationed at their coffee shop base.
I am pleased to write that Pastor Crotts does a satisfactory job answering questions such as, “What is the church?”, “Why we go to church?” and “Who is supposed to lead the church?” To his credit, the author is generous with biblical references and yet does not overwhelm his audience with theological terminology.
Furthermore, I appreciate Crotts’ clarity and boldness with regards to the importance of church discipline (p. 69) and church membership (p. 80). In multiple chapters, Crotts reminds the readers that the writers of scripture assumed a commitment to a local church and argues convincingly that living out the “one anothers” is an impossible (and unbiblical) task for the autonomous Christian.
There are two omissions of the book that surprised me. First, the assumption of male elders. I was taken aback that the author did not address the issue of women in ministry (except for a few sentences on page 81). Our society is actively blurring gender differences and this philosophy has crept into every mainline denomination in Protestant Christianity. To simply “punt” the issue of egalitarianism, especially in the 21st century church, is a missed opportunity (in my humble opinion).
Second, the authorial silence regarding the concept of mission or missiology. To be clear, Crotts does address the mission of the church, but gives no commentary on its excesses or its misapplications. Again, a missed opportunity in the mind of this reviewer.
Overall, Loving the Church is a solid, biblical presentation of God’s blueprint for the local church. I am confident newer Christians will enjoy the brevity (131 pages) and winsome style of Crotts’ work.