Quit Going to Church—what kind of title is that for a blog about Christianity, let alone a book by a man who has been an ordained minister for over 30 years? And not just an ordained minister, but an award-winning author of 26 books, two Gold Medallion Awards, four state Associated Press awards, and the prestigious Amy Foundation Award.
But in his most recently released book, Bob Hostetler advises his readers to do just that—quit going to church—quit playing church, to be specific, and start being the church that “turned the world upside down” in the first century (Acts 17:6).
“What if the form of Christianity commonly practiced by us and by most of the Christians around us bears little—if any—resemblance to the way of Jesus and the kingdom He came to earth to usher in?” Hostetler writes. “What if we’ve misunderstood—even misrepresented—what it means to truly follow Jesus?”
Read through the New Testament, particularly the Gospels and the Book of Acts, and you’ll see the vast difference between the first century church and the twenty-first century church. Don’t confuse “Churchianity” with Christianity, Bob says.
That’s why Bob’s words stirred me so much. I’d long sensed something missing from the modern day church—that contemporary Christianity is sorely anemic, clichéd and empty of the zeal that marked the early church. Why, the first century church exploded across the Middle East without the benefits of big screens, video clips, microphones, gospel singing groups, worship leaders, even magnificent, state-of-the-art buildings constructed just for worship and Scripture study and to be the center of a local denomination’s ministry.
No, the first century church didn’t need all the gadgets we seem to need today to keep our faith stirred up. They ran on love and community. They lived their faith—they didn’t just “practice” it. They were absorbed by it—they didn’t just dip their big toes in to try it out. They didn’t play at being Christian—Jesus lived in them every moment of every day. And their realness spilled over onto those around them. “I want what you have,” their friends, neighbors, and relatives said. One thing about human nature—we know real when we see it—moment by moment, word after word, day after day.
What other things does Hostetler tell us to quit doing? Saying your prayers, reading your Bible, sharing your faith, tithing, volunteering, being nice, helping the poor, fellowshipping, trying to be good, enjoying worship, and living in the center of God’s will.
Instead, he says, quit playing church, going through the motions, and start being the church, start relating to God on a personal basis—start being real.
“Quit Going to Church is intended to identify and correct some of the ways we have forgotten—or departed from—the way of Jesus,” Hostetler writes. “It may raise your hackles. It may challenge you in unexpected ways. It may also renew your faith.”
It did mine.
Lord, I may be the only Gospel some people will ever read. May Your Spirit thrive in me and spill out onto the world around me. Help me to drop the facades and be a real follower of Jesus. Amen.
Quit Going to Church by Bob Hostetler is available online on Amazon.
To visit Bob online, click here.
Special-Tea: Read Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35