Friday, November 5, 2010

The Jesus Sensitive Church Review

If Jesus were on earth today where would he worship?  That is the intriguing question posed by Ron Auch and Dean Niforatos in their work The Jesus Sensitive Church: Would Jesus Worship Here? .  I received this book free from New Leaf Press to review. 

I actually received this book without much knowledge of it.  The title was compelling, and the central question was one the piqued my interest.  I was further interested by the fact that these men are of the Pentecostal faith.  I am not.  It is always interesting to here ecclesiological critiques from people of different denominational backgrounds. 

It is interesting that most of what you read in the first few chapters could have easily been taken out of a book from the Reformed community critical of the “seeker-sensitive” movement.  Chapter 2’s Give Them What They Want is a familiar sounding critique that is not exclusive to Pentecostalism.

I typically feel a great disconnect between myself and many of those in Pentecostalism.  Honestly, much of that is probably my own limited exposure (ala TBN).  I was shocked to hear these guys saying much the same thing that my own communities are saying. 

Then in chapter seven the Pentecostal beliefs begin to really thunder through the pages.  The first six chapters deconstruct the seeker-sensitive church.  Essentially they are saying that Jesus would not worship in a seeker-sensitive church. 

Well then, what type of church would Jesus worship in?  What they are really asking is—what type of church gathering will have the blessing of Almighty God.  Their answer?  One that is Spirit-filled, full-gospel believing, and baptized in the Spirit manifested through the speaking of tongues. 

The last six chapter are about the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and that this is the mark that is missing in modern churches.  If you know me, then you know that I disagree.  Debating with Pentecostals is not the point of this review.  I’ll just simply say I disagree with this major thrust of the book—and leave it at that. 

So, since I won’t be following the advice to pursue “getting filled” what can a Jesus-loving Southern Baptist take from this book?  For one, even though I disagree with their application and interpretation of passages on the Spirit, I do agree that a de-emphasis on the Holy Spirit is rampant in churches.  This book can be a wake up call to consider the Spirit in our ecclesiology. 

Also to be respected is their passion for holiness.  And I really do think that the author’s of this book have a deep love for Jesus and want to see Him glorified in churches and throughout the world.  Many of their critiques are spot on and there is much to commend here. 

However, at the end of the day I think this book falls into the same trap that many books of this type do.  That is the if you do ___ then God will do _____ formula.  They are not nearly as bad as many of the other books—because I don’t think they really are hoping to have mega-churches.  They want to be faithful to God.  But I think their underlying theological presuppositions necessitate this formulaic understanding.  In other words Pentecostalism stems from this very If I do ___, God does ____ formula. 

Would I recommend it?  Honestly, probably not.  I think if I were a Pentecostal then this book would be great and serve as a wonderful wake up call.  I hope the Lord uses it this way.  I hope God uses this book in Pentecostal churches to call the people to get back to the Scriptures, pursue holiness, embrace the gospel, and surrender to Jesus and not to methodologies. 

But I would not suggest this book to those in my congregation because I fundamentally disagree with the last six chapters.  And where this book is strong I can find other books that are also strong and do not end at the Pentecostal conclusion. 

But that’s my take, you can check it out yourself: The Jesus Sensitive Church: Would Jesus Worship Here? You can buy it used at Amazon for less than a buck.  It’s pretty well-written and is an easy read.

Rating 2.5 out of 5 Stars


  1. Mike : I believe that Jesus probably would more likely attend a small group, beside a missionary holding services, food bank, homeless shelter, welfare / unemployment offices,a prison / jail,a day care center, Walmart, college or NFL football game, and perhaps a church business meeting. (Most places where we as believers tend to stay a way from, unless to purchase something or receive entertainment). Many Sunday mornings at many churches, spend their time to worship with their fellow believers and hope the Pastors message does not go past the allotted time. Like the Las Vegas TV Ads , "What is said at church, stays at church!"
    Luke 6:31&32 - Jesus answered them,"It is the sick who need a doctor, not those in good health; My purpose is to invite sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think themselves already good enough".
    Mike what is your spin!

    God Bless
    Tom Spangler

  2. Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the comment. My answer to this question would require a somewhat lengthy response to make it clear. Perhaps I'll write on that soon.

    But let me say this, I think there is a difference between what "church" Jesus would attend--and where Jesus would hang out when he was not gathered with believers.

    I think there is a biblical call for believers to gather together (what we would call church), and this gathering should be sensible for outsiders but not centered around them. I think there is a distinct difference between those "outside" and those "inside" the fellowship of Jesus. Example he didn't take the Samaritan woman up on the Mountain for his transfiguration--that was for his intimate circle within the circle of disciples.
    But Jesus also did not confine himself to a bubble. he touched lepers, talked to prostitutes, etc. So, I think he'd hang out in the places where you stated--but I don't think he'd necessarily call that "church".
    What we do when we gather as believers is a whole different topic. :-)

    So, yeah it'd probably take a long response to fully deal with this topic.

  3. P.S. I agree that church is not supposed to be about "purchasing something" or "receiving entertainment".



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