The Heart, Character and Life Of The Church by Joe Thorn – Book Review
What do you think about when you hear the word “church”? Do visions of majestic cathedrals filled with stained glass windows or quaint country-side chapels come to mind? Do you remember special events such as receiving 1st communion – singing in the church choir – attending summer picnics with your family? Do you think of walking down the aisle with your spouse, baptizing or dedicating your child, serving those around you in some capacity?
When we’re young, many of us are taught that church is God’s house. We think of church as a place we go, as something we do. It may take us awhile to realize that church is something we’re a part of and church is something that’s a part of us. Although we may gather in a specific location on Sunday mornings to worship God, the spirit of God doesn’t reside in the building that we gather in. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. If we are born again, then God resides in us!
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
– 1 Corinthians 12:27
Last year, when my family felt the Lord calling us to join a new church family, we enrolled in a month-long membership class. The topics we discussed stirred up a lot of questions inside of me and I found myself wanting to study the church in a deeper way.
I began asking questions like:
- What makes a church a church?
- What essentials should a church believe?
- What is a church really supposed to do?
Apparently, I’m not the only one asking these types of questions. Joe Thorn – the founding pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in Illinois – recently wrote a wonderful trio of books that addresses these types of questions in terms that laypeople can easily understand!
In the first book in the series, The Heart Of The Church: The Gospel’s History, Message, And Meaning, Joe addresses the root problem that ails many churches today. He states that the gospel of Jesus Christ is why the church exists – the gospel is the church’s central message – and emphasizes that when a church leaves her first love, than no amount of snazzy new programs or innovative marketing programs can heal it. He then goes on to fully explore and define the gospel in great clarity for any who might need a refresher!
The Heart Of The Church is divided into three parts: The History of the Gospel, The Doctrine of the Gospel, and The God of the Gospel. Each chapter within this book tackles core biblical concepts such as justification, sanctification, reconciliation and sovereignty in terms that are easy to understand.
In the second book in the series, The Character Of The Church: The Marks Of God’s Obedient People, Joe moves from the topic of “what does the church believe” to “what makes a church a church”? In this volume, Joe explores five elements that are essential in any healthy biblical church:
- The right preaching of Scripture
- The proper administration of the ordinances (sacraments)
- The development of biblical leadership
- The gracious implementation of church discipline
- A clear focus on the mission that Christ gave the church
The third book, The Life Of The Church: The Table, Pulpit and Square, focuses on the church’s primary mission: to live as disciples and create disciples of Jesus Christ. He states that:
Disciples are made when the people of God following the Son of God are instructed and transformed by the Word of God. Apart from the ministry of the Word among the people of God, disciples cannot be made. To put it plainly, discipleship requires the church.
This book focuses on the three environments within and outside of the church that discipleship occurs – our homes and small group communities, corporate worship, and beyond our church family into the outside world. The book describes how a healthy church should function in each of these settings.
Each of the three books in Joe Thorn’s series are short in length (approximately 100 pages each), biblically sound, easy to comprehend, and vital to our understanding of what a biblical church of Jesus Christ should look like, profess, and do.
I highly recommend these books to anyone who is looking for a biblical Christian church or trying to determine how theirs measures up – to anyone who wants to grow in their faith and gain a better understanding of church history and doctrine – to new members of a church who are trying to better understand what their role in the church body should be – and to church leaders and administrators who want to better serve the Lord.
I rate each of these books 5 out of 5 stars.
Video: Three Books On The Church by Joe Thorn
About Joe Thorn
Joe Thorn is the founding and Lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois and the author of several books, as well as a graduate of Moody Bible Inst. (BA) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv).
He and his wife, Jen, have four children and a dog named Lucyfur.
For More Information
- Visit Joe’s Website.
- Connect with Joe on Facebook and Twitter.
- Visit Moody Publisher’s Website.
- Connect with Moody on Facebook and Twitter.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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