Next month, Crossway is releasing a new book by Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman called Rediscover Church. The book is a timely reminder that the church is more than just a livestream—it is an essential fellowship of God’s people furthering God’s mission.
In partnership with 9Marks and The Gospel Coalition, Crossway is planning to distribute 400,000 copies of Rediscover Church to Christians throughout the US. As a pastor, all you have to do is fill out a short form to request your 20 free books for your church: Request Your Books.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Once, years ago, I was talking with some loved ones about church. They knew I had undergone a powerful conversion experience at age fifteen. When I became born again, everything changed. I got to know God in the Bible and in prayer. I enjoyed singing to and about him. I wanted all my friends to know how they could be born again. Still, some of these loved ones didn’t understand, even though they tried. They wanted to relate to me. So they reported to me when they attended church. I knew church didn’t mean anything to them, that they just wanted to please me. So I told them to stop going to church. Finally, an idea they liked! They found other ways to spend their Sunday mornings. I just wanted them to understand there is no intrinsic value to attending church if you don’t bother to believe what you’re singing, hearing, or saying.
I’m not sure I would always recommend “stop going to church” as an evangelistic strategy. But in this case it was necessary, because my loved ones attended a church that did not teach clearly about conversion. Eventually they met a different pastor, who invited them to believe in Jesus and be born again. They began attending his church, where they were baptized. And they’ve belonged to that spiritual family now for nearly twenty years.
Conversion can happen inside or outside the church. It can be a solitary experience or one you share with friends and peers. But it should always result in you linking together with a church. When the Bible describes our conversion as adoption, we see this corporate dimension. Sometimes the English language obscures how often the Bible speaks of spiritual growth in the plural: where it says you, it often means “y’all.” A clear example comes in Galatians 4:4–5: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” This English translation retains the gender-specific “sons” to reflect their privileged hereditary position in the ancient world. But this promise applies to all men and women who believe in Jesus. When God adopts you, when he gives you the gift of faith in his Son, he welcomes you into a spiritual family of brothers and sisters—that is, the church.
Think about it this way. In adoption, a child gets new parents. But he also gets new siblings. When he becomes a son, he also becomes a brother—two new but distinct relationships. When you become a son, you snag a spot in the family photo next to your siblings. And that’s what happens in conversion. Your Father puts you in the family photo with your new kin.
Let’s get a closer look at that family photo. God is the Father who “predestined us for adoption” (Eph. 1:5). Before the beginning of time, he gathered this family together across all ages and places. God is the Son, our older brother sent by the Father to rescue us from slavery to sin and death so that we could join the family (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:4). God is the Spirit who “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). So in adoption, the family photo is an action shot. Three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—work together in perfect harmony on our behalf.
And where are we in the photo? As sons and daughters, we are heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:7). That means we share in his inheritance (Eph. 1:11, 14).
What does that include? The apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 1:16 that “all things were created through him and for him.” Your great aunt might’ve been generous, but you can’t beat that inheritance.
Families don’t always get along. But their bonds to one another as family members help them persevere through conflict. The shared blood prevails. The same is true for the church. Because we’ve been reconciled to God through repentance and faith, we’ve also been reconciled to each other. The blood of Christ prevailed in the early church over the divisions between Gentiles and Jews. That divide makes problems in churches today look mild by comparison. But look at the miracle worked by conversion when Jew and Gentile believe the gospel together:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Eph. 2:19–22)
When a church delights together in the joy of conversion, believers gain perspective on what still divides them. The holy temple of God is not so easily torn down.
Content taken from Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ Is Essential by Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman, ©2021. Used by permission of Crossway.