The Character of the Church Review

Book Review: 

What is the church? What makes up the church? What is a church suppose to do? Joe Thorn answer these questions and more in his book, The Character of the Church.

This is second of three books that Joe has written on about the nature of the church. This one deals with what makes up the local church. Joe begins by stating many, including Christians, have the wrong idea about the church. Some would say it is the building while others think it is a movement. Joe addresses those who are part of God's universal church, which are those who have been truly saved by God which is called the invisible church. Then there are those who are part of a local church that attend weekly meetings. They are either saved or not which is called the visible church.

The rest of the book deals with what the church does and how the church conducts itself. First, it is the Word rightly preached. Joe starts this section of the book going over the Bible's authority, sufficiency, and its usefulness. Next, we have the ordinances of the church that are used correctly. Joe does deal with baptism which he gives a good, solid teaching on believer's baptism followed by what is the Lord's Supper. Joe takes time to address in who shall partake in the Lord's Supper which is an area of disagreement for Christians with the exception that only those who are saved shall partake of it.

Next, Joe addresses the leadership of the church. Every church has one chief shepherd and that is Jesus Christ. Regarding who shall serve as leaders, Joe talks about elders, which are the pastors of the church who provide spiritual leadership, and deacons, who are the ones who take care of the physical needs of the church. Joe takes time to address the congregation and what their roles along with church membership.

Later, we read about church discipline and how it should play a vital role in every congregation. Finally, Joe talks about the mission of the church which is divided into two parts: discipleship and evangelism. The church is called to make disciples to follow Jesus and to share the gospel so other can put their faith in Jesus.

As we Joe's previous book, The Heart of the church, he gets right to the point without chasing any rabbits. The chapters are short easy to read for anyone who wants to know more about what the church is and what is does. I appreciated his chapter on whom shall partake of the Lord's Supper. That is one thing church leaders need to have more of a discussion about.