In The Life of the Church, Joe Thorn concludes his three-book series on the church as the redeemed people of God by discussing what biblical church life should look like. The first two books examined the heart of the church as found in the gospel and the marks of the church in its ordinances and practices. In this book, Thorn focuses on three aspects of church life which he summarizes as the table, the pulpit, and the square. The table is the gathering of church members in settings other than Sunday worship may it be in a small group on a Friday evening or a group of families having a BBQ cookout on a Saturday afternoon. The author argues that these small, often informal, meetings throughout the week allows Christians to obey the commands in the Bible to love and build each other up. The pulpit represents the formal gathering of church members on Sunday to worship God through song, prayer, preaching, giving, and blessing. Thorn rightly emphasizes that all worship should be offered through faith (spirit) and Scripture (truth). The Word is central to the worship of God so all things that we do should be faithful to the Bible instead of taking after the leadership’s or congregation’s personal tastes. Lastly, the square concerns how the church corporately and its members individually reach out to its surrounding community to bring renewal, restoration, and hope through the gospel. There are many opportunities available for believers to become the salt and light that attracts nonbelievers to the truth of Christ such as sharing the gospel at a coffeeshop or displaying God’s mercy while serving at the local soup kitchen.
I would recommend this book along with its two companion books to all those who seek a biblical understanding of the church. In many churches today, the focus and goal has shifted to utilizing all the congregation’s resources and efforts to become seeker sensitive and culturally relevant instead of being focused on God and His Word. Thorn skillfully distills the doctrine of the church to the most basic level so that all believers can benefit from the material. Moreover, the author writes with a pastoral heart that beats with a passion to show God’s glory through His people. Without compromising the essential truths of the Bible, Thorn provides clear, helpful insights and advice on how churches ought to recover the heart, character, and life of the body of Christ.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.