Quit Going to Church by Bob Hostetler
How did Christ imagine church and faith? Did he imagine the Sunday-Christian or the wholly immersed believer? In this book, Bob Hostetler tells readers to QUIT GOING TO CHURCH, and renew their walk of faith.
What drives people to enter the doors of churches every Sunday? It could be habit, living up to expectations, a sense of duty, or even guilt. People seem to be living ”churchanity” rather than Christianity.
This thought provoking and ”pull-off-the-gloves” book is based on the premise that much of how we think and act, a great percentage of what we do these days as church-going people, bears only a slight resemblance to the way of Jesus and ”the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). With titles like ”Quit Going to Church” and ”Quit Sharing Your Faith,” each chapter issues an eyebrow-raising challenge, showing how many of us have misunderstood–even distorted–the Good News of Jesus and replaced Christianity with something else. As you read this book, be prepared to have your assumptions challenged and your life transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Regarding the title, which is probably what caught your interest: It’s a bit of a gimmick. The chapters are similarly titled (“Quit Tithing”, “Quit Reading Your Bible”, “Quit Helping the poor”, etc). It’s a great attention-grabber, and it’s a little misleading. In the eponymous first chapter, Hostetler doesn’t argue that you should actually stop going to church; he argues that you should stop just going to church (he’s right, of course).
I’d say this book is primarily written for newer or casual Christians. For the most part, it’s milk and not meat (though it’s not a bad refresher course for a long-time believer or church who has simply become complacent or stuck in a rut). It does have several interesting notes about biblical customs/culture that would have connected with Jesus’ original audience but may whiz past the modern Bible-reader’s head.
I have to remind myself that this is a “Christian living” book. It’s not meant to be deep theology or an intense examination of biblical texts. Even keeping that in mind, it seemed a little…light in some places. Some chapters are really good (“Quit Enjoying Worship”, “Quit Volunteering” , “Quit Tithing”). But the chapter “Quit Being Nice” fell a bit flat for me after a strong start — the portrayal of Jesus was good, but Hostetler’s application to modern Christian life seemed to skirt the main issue. Other chapters seemed to build a straw man before correcting him.
My biggest problem with this book is that, to be frank, I couldn’t quite trust Hostetler, which kept me from giving myself wholly to his message. There are two things that kept me leery. First, Hostetler quotes Rob Bell several times, and I am extremely suspicious of anything Rob Bell says because of the unbiblical, heretical, and blasphemous nature of his recent book Love Wins. To quote Rob Bell approvingly is, to some extent, an endorsement of his ideas. But it’s not as though I saw it and said, “Oh. This is from Rob Bell, therefore it is false and you, Hostetler, are wrong.” It’s more like, “Was Rob Bell really the only person you could quote here? He’s the one that first came to mind? Hmmm.” It’s just something that kept me feeling off as I read this book.
The second thing that unnerved me is that Hostetler quotes from The Message quite often. This might not bother most people, but I cringe every time I hear anyone use The Message instead of a proper translation of the Bible. From my perspective, there’s only two reasons you would use The Message: either it fits more with what you wish the Bible would say or you think your audience is too stupid to understand the language otherwise. Ugh.
Still, I would recommend this book to a newer or casual Christian or to a Christian/Church book club. No doubt some great discussion would come out of it. Also, one could use this as a devotional aid. Hostetler even includes a “prayer” at the end of each chapter.
Disclaimer: I won a free copy of this book through GoodReads’ First Reads program.