CHURCH: An Insider's Look at How We Do It

John G. Stackhouse, Jr., Author Baker $12.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8010-6407-4

Spending time with someone who has an opinion about everything—and is willing to share it—can be agonizing. But if he hits the mark more often than not, it's bearable. And if he's clever and engaging and asks enough questions so that it appears he's not a know-it-all, but a know-a-lot, it can become downright enjoyable – like reading this book. A self-admitted "opinion-monger," Stackhouse has collected here dozens of short (two- to six-page) opinion essays on a wide range of church-related subjects, clumped together under broad rubrics: worship, preaching, leadership, fellowship, mission, etc. Instead of a sustained theological argument, he offers a bunch of smaller points; he opines, for example, about the scriptural mini-canons most folks use, misunderstandings of church membership and the tiny honoraria churches pay to clergy. Though he is an academic (a professor at Regent College and at the University of British Columbia), this book reflects the other hats he wears as an editor and journalist with Christianity Today and Books & Culture. The essays use all sorts of tricks to teach and cajole and persuade and entertain. For example, there is a hilarious tongue-in-cheek memo about making decisions to maximize efficiency in the church, and an "Actual Pastoral Job Description." Although the subtitle suggests that the book is for outsiders, it's insiders—those who know and love the church, and have strong opinions about it—who will most enjoy this book. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 196 pages - 978-1-57383-353-0
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