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Stop Dating the Church: Fall in Love with the Family of God

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,377 ratings  ·  126 reviews
Are You Dating the Church?

We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don't want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We're not into commitment — we only want to date the church.

Is this what God wants for us?

Stop Dating the Church reminds us that faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit. The church is the place God grows
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published September 23rd 2004 by Multnomah (first published January 1st 2004)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  1,377 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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Natalie Vellacott
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian-living
This was okay, but not as good as his books on relationships. It's short and seemed to have a lot more Americanisms that grated after a while. The principles are good: people shouldn't church hop but should be fully committed members of their local Gospel preaching church. I'm sure there must be better books out there on the subject of church membership/commitment.
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: church
I am reviewing the updated version of this book elsewhere (now titled, "Why Church Matters") so will not provide a full review here, but here are some of criticisms:

1. This book is addressed to people who have intellectual doubts about why the church is important and does not address pastoral concerns of those who have been seriously wounded by the church. As I read this book I thought of people I know with 'Church Angst' and found that Harris either is unaware of the ways in which churches can
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in discipling
Recommended to Charles by: Brandon Stewart
Shelves: theology
An amazing book that paints a beautiful picture of the purpose of church and how we're supposed to interact with it. Although Joshua Harris has done a phenomenal job with providing examples and personal stories, he sets up quite an idealistic example of the church. This isn't bad, but in some ways the book came across as a to do list. It's still good though that he shows how a church should operate, and gives us a great idea of what we should be striving for at the least.

I definitely don't agree
Michael d'Offay
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-living
Sometimes a little book comes along which totally surprises me. This is one of them and it deals with dating… or more specifically.. dating the church.

I know many people who want to grow in red hot relationship with Jesus but they are lukewarm at best towards Jesus’ family. Josh Harris reminds us that God’s plan is that we love Jesus passionately but also his people passionately and he shares his own personal journey from being a ‘church-dater’ to church lover.
What I enjoyed about this book is
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb book! Most every congregation struggles with people who choose not to commit to the church, or can't see the reason to do so. Josh Harris here presents a very simple, Scriptural case for committing to the local church and giving it a high priority in one's life. It's a very quick, easy read.
Jun 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I read this book in an effort to improve my attitude toward the local church. The author seems to be in the reformed neo-Calvinist camp, so we don't agree on certain theological issues, but he makes enough good points to make the book worth reading because almost no one else is writing books about why we ought to be committed to the local church. I say that with this caveat: some of the stuff in this book ought to be removed with a black permanent marker.

For instance: "If you are not a member of
Nate LaClaire
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don’t want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We’re not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us?

In Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God, bestselling author Joshua Harris says no, God’s purpose for Christians involves a deep commitment to a local church. This commitment involves far more than showing up on Sunday to sing, chat, and listen to
Rock Rockwell
Oct 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Church Hoppers
With the "anti-church" movement against "organized religion" among some today, it is good to hear a godly young man write with passion on the need to marry a church (and quit dating it). Harris provides a simplistic and heart-felt cry to Christians to put your heart into the Bride of Christ and marry her! Our church gave every High School graduate this book one year and many enjoyed it, but most probably did not go to church while in that next year of college (except on Christmas and Easter brea ...more
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
A practical guide to what you should think about and consider before choosing a church. I found the information in this book to be extremely well researched and thought provoking. Joshua Harris did an excellent job of telling you what you should look for and then explaining exactly why you need to meet those standards. I'd recommend this book.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it
In light of the recent news this summer that Josh has divorced his wife and walked away from the faith it was really sad to see his deep understanding of God’s word and know that some 15 years later he’s renounced His walk with Christ. I couldn’t help but think of him as he gave example of Peter’s denial inn the last chapter. Praying that he would, like Peter, turn back and follow the Lord.

There was some interesting takes in this book. For one, Harris explained that if a kid is part of a strong
Chris Whitehead
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was not really impressed with this book. I try to read everything with an open mind but there was a good share of this book that was just quotes from other people. I appreciate his enthusiasm for "church" but he never addressed really whether or not we are "doing church" correctly. As a pastor I see many areas where we do many things that have no bearing on what Jesus has really called us to do. My biggest disappointment was on page 111 where he says "The sermon is the most important part of t ...more
Rev. Linda
This is a re-read of a text that I have included in my Mentoring Suggested Reading List -- From the publisher: Are You Dating the Church? We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don't want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We're not into commitment — we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? Stop Dating the Church reminds us that faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit. The church is the place God grows us, encourages ...more
Monique S. (The Ginger Librarian)
This author recently announced that he has lost his faith in Jesus and is no longer a Christian. Such sad news. 😔 I pray that God continues to pursue him and speak to his heart. My opinions of his books have changed however... I no longer feel I can trust his advice on relationships or faith, when he abandoned both his marriage and his faith... and he is very openly claiming that in doing this, he feels "very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful", which is very concerning. I hope and ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really good book, especially if you are one of those who likes to date the church. I personally never did, but I found that I could recommend this book to someone who was. After reading the book, my friend felt really convicted to actually stay and serve one church. Joshua Harris shows why we should only go to one church and why. It's about serving the church and building one another up in the Gospel. But even if you don't church hop, the author also gives some really good points about how to ch ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Nice, short, direct resource making a Biblical case for why membership matters in the local church. I saw this recommended in Anyabwile's "What is a Healthy Church Member" and found it to be more of what I was looking for, though Anyabwile's book is good for different reasons.

One caveat, Harris makes numerous references to C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace, and Covenant Life Church. These ministries (along with Harris' own I Kissed Dating Goodbye retrospective movie) have been in and out of the new
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was a free gift from my church after attending a class on 'What's Next?' I enjoyed it and gave me a new perspective on how to get more involved in church and service. Having a church community and brothers and sisters in Christ to walk together is so important. We cannot do it in isolation. This book gives you lots of practical advice on how to immerse yourself into church, not just for the weekly sermons. It's also not about how good a speaker the pastors are but rather your attitude ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why Church Matters presents a case for the importance of the local church that might be a little too centered on the local church, while neglecting the greater church body.

The general concepts are good and make sense, especially around the importance of being deeply connected to the church. However, it misses the mark on presenting the dangers of being too much so, and forming an idolic relationship with the local body.

The book was thought provoking, but leaves me concerned around not providin
Robert Dillon
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
A point a little laboured, but nonetheless a valuable antidote to the consumerist mentality which we can often be tempted to slip into. Perhaps of most importance is the need to recognise that a single member cannot, and should not, attempt to single-handedly 'fix' their flawed church, but to submit and serve with humility - a useful lesson for us all!
Elena Chan
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was a simple direct explanation of the reasons to commit to a local church. While it doesn’t set out to be a comprehensive text on the concept of church, it certainly opened up more curiosity to learn more about church. Overall I found it helpful, particularly being back to what it’s about and a challenge on my attitude. Read this in a few sittings, very achievable.
Caesha Pablo
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was given to me by one of my High school friend for my 18th Birthday. She is a daughter of a pastor and she has a big impact on my life.

This book opened my mind on how to perceive church relationship as a teenager. Especially on parts where you had to be disciplined if you had done something unacceptable in some sort of way.
Helen Griffin
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
Excellent challenging book calling us to be devoted to the Church and one another. The challenge for me is that you can be a member and not be truly devoted to the fellowship. List on page 76 is really helpful as things we should do and be.
David Cowpar
It’s sad that the author of this has gone the way he has, but I believe the Lord will help him rediscover the truths he himself wrote about in this book.

It has some great encouragement and insight.
Wes Smith
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Very simple but helpful book on the importance of the local church and why God calls us to be a part of it.
Rob Medford
This book is best suited for those who do not attend or who have a negative general view of church.
Benjamin Dye
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A simple, yet informative read pertaining to the importance of the local church.
Jeremy Barker
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God
by Joshua Harris

Do you go to church? Yes? Okay, why?

This book helps you answer that question. It is aimed to help restore your vision for what the church is all about and what your role is in relation to a real and tangible local church – you know “the church down the street” (the phrase he uses for the local church that you attend).

Joshua Harris first gained notoriety in the Evangelical world for his books on relationships (“I Kisse
Christian Hanna
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why Church Matters is like your 6 A.M. alarm. It is absolutely necessary, but it can be rather painful. With humility and humor, Joshua Harris walks us through the often-overlooked topic of why church matters.
“The church matters because Jesus chose it to tell and show the world the message of His love.” – pg. 10
In his own words, that is this book boiled down to the core. Throughout this book, there are two things that Harris notes are absolutely essential in a church; commitment and passion.
Kevin Sorensen
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This small book is a very important book. It just might need to become the one small book you hand to anyone or any family who walks into your church and says, "I'm looking for a church home." It needs to be the one book you hand to someone who says "I don't really need to belong to a church; I can just show up when I can."

Joshua Harris writes in a homely and winsome style. As you're reading, you think to yourself, "This is good stuff. Why haven't I heard this before?" You probably have; you jus
Joshua D.
Nov 02, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a different kind of book for Joshua Harris. Most who have heard of him know Harris primarily as a speaker to junior high and high school students, challenging them to reject our culture's notions of casual dating and pursue different, more intentional kinds of relationships. His book I Kissed Dating Goodbye was born out of his many conferences and speaking tours along these lines.

I'll admit some skepticism about reading Harris. His previous books were excellent resources for teenagers, b
Robert Stump
Feb 09, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Homo Homini Lupus

Its called Why Church Matters; but it hardly matters. I'm sorry WaterBrook Multnomah, but I couldn't finish this one. I almost put it down after the first three pages, but I did power through about three quarters before I just could not take it anymore.

I was an atheist for nearly 7 years before Christ came for me, and had I read this book in that period I would have avoided the church like it were a leper. That said, let me proceed to demolish
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Joshua Harris lives outside Washington, D.C., in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where he's a pastor at Covenant Life Church. His greatest passion is preaching the gospel and calling his generation to wholehearted devotion to God. Each January he leads a national conference for singles called New Attitude.

News & Interviews

The must-read summer beach book is a kind of American tradition. The crash of the waves. The glare of the sun. The sand in the pages. Is t...
52 likes · 28 comments
“If Jesus loves the church, you and I should, too. We can’t use the excuse that the church has messed up too many times or that we’re disillusioned. Jesus is the only person who has the right to disown and give up on the church. But He never has. And He never will.” 3 likes
“(see 1 John 1:8–9; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8–9).” 0 likes
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