So many Christians, in America especially, have developed what I call a “Lone Ranger” complex. They are convinced that all that really matters is how their personal spiritual life is going. As long as they are engaged in private spiritual disciplines, such as prayer and personal devotions, that their spiritual life is good. In his book, Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church, Donald Whitney answers the following questions about the importance of public worship:

  1. Why Go to Church?
  2. Why Seek Baptism in the Church?
  3. Why Join a Church?
  4. Why Listen to Preaching in the Church?
  5. Why Worship with the Church?
  6. Why Witness with the Church?
  7. Why Serve in the Church?
  8. Why Give to the Church?
  9. Why Attend the Ordinances of the Church?
  10. Why Fellowship with the Church?
  11. Why Pray with the Church?
  12. Why Learn in the Church?

In each chapter, Whitney gives a biblical basis for why Christians should participate in each activity. Address not only the scriptural instructions concerning each, but also the benefit that it can have in the individuals personal spiritual life. He also does a good job of addressing the most common objects that you might hear from others. One thing that impressed me the most was his attempt to guard against a legalistic understanding. He endeavor to show how each activity should have a place in a believers life, while making clear that just doing the activity did not make one a believer. At the end of each chapter he also offered challenges for the reader to consider in terms of applying what they had just learned.

Personally, the part I found the most inciteful was the consideration of why Christians should attend other peoples baptisms. I had never consider the implications of showing up for a baptism service as a testimony to not only the person being baptized, but to the outside world as well.

Not only do I think the book is useful for personal growth and appreciation of public worship, but it could be used as an evangelistic tool or as a resource for considering what you should look for in a church (which he devotes the last chapter to).