Book Review: Your Church is Too Safe
Author: Mark Buchanan
Publisher: Zondervan ISBN: 978031031230
I just finished Mark Buchanan’s latest earlier today. My thoughts are still turning and my heart is still stinging a bit from some of the more (to me) convicting pieces of this book. I don’t think I read anything I didn’t already agree with, but that may be the problem. Here I sit with awareness to some of the truth shared in Your Church is Too Safe, convicted of changes I need to enact in my life, and I’m reminded that I have not moved on most of them…yet. What is it that is written in James’ Epistle? “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Uhmmm. Yeah. I’m still stinging.
I’ve read all but one of Mark Buchanan’s books; I’ve loved each one and I’ve been challenged in varying degrees by every one of them too. This one has probably left me with the heaviest feeling, probably in part for the season of life I am now facing. I was hooked with the opening sentence from the introduction where Buchanan confesses bluntly; “I’M BORED.” And he goes on to say the following:
As are many people in the church. Bored, and also apathetic, passive, testy, lonely, disheartened. We’re wary and weary and cranky and sad. It’s a long list.
There’ an enormous gap between the life Jesus offered and the life we’re living. We feel it. We see it. We sense that whatever else Jesus came preaching this can’t be what he had in mind: a roomful of people nodding to old platitudes, nodding off to old lullabies, perking up to Jonah-like rants, jumping up to split hairs or break company at the smallest provocation. He can’t have dreamed a church gorging itself on feeling good and allergic to self-denial. He can’t have hoped for a church that was more concerned with itself than with the world it inhabits. When Jesus announced that the kingdom was at hand, this can’t be what he meant. (p.9)
All this and we’re still in the introduction. Mark then finishes the introduction with this statement and “set the hook” deep in me at the same time saying, “It’s a book for those who wish the church looked more like the kingdom.” That’s me; and we’re off and running.
I enjoy Buchanan’s writing style; I’ve already said I’ve liked every book of his that I’ve read (6 of 7). There’s something about the rawness and transparency in his writing that connects me to what he’s attempting to communicate. I’m in the room, sitting across the table from him, and I’m listening… listening. Every chapter contains quotables; I’ll probably be using many of them for weeks to come as I continue processing the challenges Your Church has presented to me. Still, there were several chapters that really sunk their claws into my heart; A Tale of Two Communities was one, Jesus and the Three Spirits and Even the Sparrows are a couple more.
This is one of the more challenging books I’ve read in awhile. It may very well be the context of my life that makes it so, but I think this might be the case for more than a few people. I don’t think I’m the only one who is and has been “BORED.” If you’re comfortable and don’t want to be stirred, avoid the book. If you need just a little bit more of a push to set you on the way of following Jesus in hot-pursuit of his kingdom, get the book as quickly as you can. I’m looking for teammates in a church that pursues Jesus wholeheartedly; maybe we should join up.
Listen to chapter one here: