I just finished up Horton’s The Gospel Driven Life (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009). It was an enjoyable read – well worth the time, money, and effort. I highly recommend it. If you’ve read the “academic” stuff of Horton, specifically his 4-vol WJK covenant series, you may notice some overlap between People and Place and The Gospel Driven Life. However, the overlap was fine with me, since Horton wrote the latter for a wider audience – it wasn’t as if it was the exact same material. Though this book is for a popular audience, the content is thick and robust – not for an uneducated layperson, but one who likes to read.
One great aspect of this book is its “churchly” focus. Of course it is Word-, Gospel-, and God-centered; it also has a church focus. In an age where most churches cater to individualism, Horton says a gospel centered church is different.
“The last thing we need is a church that keeps us sealed up in our own compartment with others of similar experiences in life. We need to be integrated into the body of Christ. Younger believers don’t need another speaker to come in and tell them about dating, self-esteem, and relationships. They need to have relationships with saints who have put on a few miles in the Christian life and have faced challenges to their faith and practice that younger believers have not. And the lessons learned from these relationships need to be passed on to the rest of us in unplanned, unchoreographed, and unplugged conversations” (p.197).
Elsewhere, Horton also discusses how many churches come together to split up into groups of like-minded or similar aged people.
…”We carve up Christ’s body into socioeconomic and generational segments. The youth group is of relatively recent vintage: an invention of the 1960s and ’70s. And now it has taken on a life of its own. Often young people grow up in the church without ever really being in the church and worshiping together with the saints who have walked with the Lord for many years. Then we wonder why they are not integrated into the church when they leave for college and prefer to join a college ministry but not the local church” (p. 194).
Right! I think it was Horton who also said that those kids who were in “Youth Group” (Bible lessons followed by games) ten or twenty years ago are now the ones leading the church – making the worship service entertaining like they were taught Bible lessons should be. Horton does expand on this, so get the book! Perhaps what solid churches need is not more youth entertainment or a cutting-edge youth culture, but less – dare someone suggest none?