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Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God (LifeChange Books)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,283 Ratings  ·  119 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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Mar 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book that opened my eyes and helped me realize my responsibility to my local church. I especially enjoyed the thoughts on attending church as a consumer vs. a communer. Consumers critique and analyze the singing, the sermon, the experience. A communer is there to stand before the "Audience of One".

Favorite quotes/paraphrases from the book:

"As the meeting (Sunday church service) starts, remember that you're not here to be entertained. You're not part of an audience - you're part of a c
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
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
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
Clark Goble
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Harris states his goal in writing this book is to help his readers "get connected and committed to a solid local church." This short work certainly serves to accomplish his purpose. Harris hooked me by chapter 2 when he explored what it meant for Christ to call the Church His bride. Harris' passion for His own bride reminded me of how I feel about mine ... and the thought that Christ views His Church in same manner ... lets just say Harris really helped rekindle my love of the church.

Harris mak
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:
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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
Shelves: 2017-christian
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
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book gives a fresh call to the world to become radical church-livers. It screams at you from the first page to commit to your church...because that is what God has for you. As you dig into this powerful book, Josh lays out strong practical applications based solely on great insight into the Word. I loved the foundational exposition of Ephesians 5; it was gorgeous picture of our Christ's view of the church. Josh Harris finds a kind, direct way to say that we are wasting our lives if we are n ...more
Shaun Lee
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up, the most narrow minded and dogmatic people I knew were Christian leaders. It seemed like the higher up the ladder they were, the more unpleasant they were. If going into ministry (or "serving God") meant that I would become like them, I wanted to have nothing to with it.

Fast forward a few years, a loving pastor from another church mentored me from the days that I was anti-Christian, to today when I am a final year Bachelor student in Bible School. I still struggle to see why going to
I picked this book because as some of my friends know, and now my readers, that I don’t believe that church membership is Biblical nor is it needed – this is because the times that I have given time, money and everything else to a church – it usually ends with me leaving – because of the pastor beginning to follow a teaching of a man than a Bible or because those who are heavily involved in the occult are allowed to continue worshiping with the body of Believers. Enter Joshua Harris’ book, Why C ...more
Jerry Simmons
Nov 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Joshua Harris normally writes relationship books and is well known for the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. In Stop Dating The Church he uses the same type of style and approach to challenge the reader in their relationship with a local church.

What type of relationship does God want you to have with a local body of believers? Joshua starts out the book looking at some parallels between dating and the way many Christians attend church. There is a great danger for the Christian who is not committed t
Aug 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Joshua Harris writes what he knows about in this quick read. He “Kissed Dating Goodbye” and now as a Pastor he is attempting to give church hopping a fond farewell. This book follows a somewhat predictable theme. First, love the local church. Next become the person you should be for her and finally choose the right congregation based on key values God’s word directs you toward.

For a believer growing in health and personal awareness as directed by the Holy Spirit this is extremely helpful materia
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book by Joshua Harris (formerly titled Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God) is a little primer on, appropriately, why church matters.

To that end, a few observations:
1) this book is only written for Christians. Of course non-Christians are welcome to attend church on Sunday mornings, even encouraged to do so. But there is no obligation on someone who does not self-identify as a Christian to join a local church.
2) if you are a Christian and are not active in a local c
Rachel Jung
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joseph McBee
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an excellent book!

Joshua Harris loves the church, but it is not a love that blinds him from all of the warts and stains the church has. He looks at the church with an honest view but he still understands the Biblical truth regarding God's people and he clings to that truth tenaciously.

Each chapter in this book is tightly and well-written and rich with theology and Biblical exposition. Yet each chapter can be easily understood and applied by anyone. No higher degrees in Biblical studies or t
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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.
More about Joshua Harris

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“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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