Real Church: Does it exist? Can I find it?


"Church as I know it usually leaves deep parts of me dormant, unawakened, and untouched. I don't much like going. So, what now?"

What's happening to the Church? Why are so many people who for decades have been faithful, steady churchgoers (and others who want to start going to church but can't seem to find one that meets their needs) losing interest in even attending church, let alone getting involved? What is fundamentally wrong with the ...

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Real Church: Does it exist? Can I find it?

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"Church as I know it usually leaves deep parts of me dormant, unawakened, and untouched. I don't much like going. So, what now?"

What's happening to the Church? Why are so many people who for decades have been faithful, steady churchgoers (and others who want to start going to church but can't seem to find one that meets their needs) losing interest in even attending church, let alone getting involved? What is fundamentally wrong with the "types" of churches (Seeker, Bible, Emergent, Liberal, Evangelical) that dot the religious landscape? Larry Crabb believes it is time to rethink the entire foundation and focus of what we know today as church -- everything we're doing and are wanting to see happen. In his most honest and vulnerable book to date, the author reveals his own struggles in this area and then offers a compelling vision of why God designed us to live in community with Him and others, and what the church he wants to be a part of looks like.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780785298274
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/5/2009
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,260,969
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Larry Crabb is a well-known psychologist, seminar speaker, Bible teacher, author, and founder/director of NewWay Ministries. He is also Scholar in Residence at Colorado Christian University, Professor for Richmont University in Georgia,and serves as Spiritual Director for the American Association of Christian Counselors.
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 29, 2010




    I really, really wanted to like Larry Crabb's book Real Church: Does It Exist? Can I find it? - I really did. And I tried hard. But ultimately, it is yet another book from yet another disillusioned Christian begging the church to be something more than it is.

    I found it ironic that in a book about how the church has become so focused on meeting people's needs instead of sharing the gospel that Crabb spends whole chapters talking about what he needs the church to be.

    Honestly, I do not know if it is my disillusionment with this kind of books that kept me from identifying with the author's disillusionment. It might be. Regardless of the reasons, however, the Real Church just did nothing to stir me, said nothing that intrigued me, and ultimately left me struggling to finish it.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

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    Larry Crabb's Real Church...Si se puede!

    Real Church. Does it exist? Can I find it?

    Larry Crabb attempts to answer these questions, along with others, in his book Real Church.

    An avid Church goer and faithful believer, Crabb takes a pragmatic view of what church looks like today and how he believes it should look. He analyzes the different ways that churches organize themselves and asks simple questions to see if they fit into the model of what he calls a "Real Church."

    Looking at everything from prosperity gospel institutions to the Missional churches, Crabb makes an argument for the church that "should" be. Crabb focuses on the Church as an institution that Christ has given us to celebrate the Lord and "become holy like he is holy." Instead of this in current culture, Crabb see's current churches filling the role of self-help houses of worship...of self.

    When I first dove into Real Church, I did not agree with Crabb's point of view for the book. I see so much disunity in the body of Christ in our current society. When a book comes in and, in a way, seemingly creates more disagreement between the members of the body of Christ, I get a little upset.

    However, the book shows a man that passionately is pursuing truth in all areas, including the Church. Crabb makes a case for the Church that facilitates believers into "little Jesus'" and upon reflection of the book, I agree with him.

    I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to take a step outside of "the Churched bubble" and take a sober look at the institution of Church. Anyone that is trying to figure out what Church means Biblically and where the Church stands today in accordance with that should look into this book.

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  • Posted August 19, 2009

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    Thought provoking book that took courage to write

    Larry Crabb has written a thought provoking book that is sure to spark conversations around the country.

    Count me among those who have long felt a discord with today's churches. I've actually cried in church, not because I was especially touched by God, but because all the hypocrisy and fake holiness made me truly sad. I stopped attending Sunday morning services three years ago and have since just joined a less formal and more dedicated group on Wednesday night.

    Early on in the book Mr. Crabb draws our attention to several places in the Bible where people are rebuked for their false form of worship, citing scripture. That's a powerful wake up call to examine if our church might be rebuked in the same way. I'm glad Larry Crabb wrote this book. It has certainly stirred up conversations and made more than a few people reconsider church attendance.

    Over the years I've visited many churches and agree with Larry Crabb that something is missing from the modern church. Although the book does not solve my problems nor the churches current predicament, I think it's done it's job of examining the state of affairs in American churches creating a starting point to opening a dialogue on this issue.

    Those who feel something is missing from our church landscape would probably enjoy reading this book. On the other hand, if you are really happy with your church and where it's going, this book would not be worth your time.

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  • Posted August 17, 2009

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    Are You Bored With Church?

    Real Church is a transplant view of the western church through the eyes of the author, Larry Crabb. Crabb is open and honest about his current perspective on church. His perspective ia interesting but also a wake up call to those who live and breathe church life. Crabb begins with openly telling the reader he is bored and fed up with church. He is at a place in his life where going to church on a Sunday morning has no affect on his life in general. This is a man who longs for a deep life changing relationship and journey with God who has realized he cannot find that in most American or Western churches. Throughout the book Crabb identifies why he believes people still go to church, what he dislikes about church and then brings his thoughts together to describe to the reader what he wants in a church, how it is needed for his life and what he believes God intended the church to be characterized by.

    Real Church is not bedtime reading. It is a collaboration of thoughts brought together by a man who has searched his soul and reading this book requires you to do the same. If you are happy with the status quo, do not read this book, but if you want your very core rocked, read this book. It is very evident that Larry Crabb is a man who has a deep desire to be close to God, he has just realized that the majority of churches cannot help him achieve the passion and longing his soul yearns for.

    I did not find this book an easy read. It was not a book that you cannot put done. However, even though it wasn't an easy read it was a book that has made me think more than any other I have read this year. Some of his terminology would not be understood unless you had been in church for many years, but I suppose this book was written for those who had been in church for many years. There was one particular thought Crabb tried to find answers to that had been almost laughing, agreeing and crying at the same point. This was the thought about addictions in our lives. Crabb explains that all of us are addicts and most of us are not addicted to God but to self. Most churches do not get us hooked on God, but they feed our addiction to self! Crabb says, 'addicts to self don't make good disciples of Jesus' (p90).

    This book is both theory and practical based. I would give this book four stars, the only reason I wouldn't give it five would be because I didn't think it flowed as well. However, I would recommend this book for any church leader. It will make you think, evaluate and even may bring you to your knees. I would also recommend this book to people who are bored with their church life, who are not getting anything out of church or if you just want to be refreshed by a leader opening his soul up to others in Christ like manner.

    I read this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program.

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  • Posted August 14, 2009

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    Not What I Expected

    Since I've had these same thoughts for quite a while, I thought that this book would give me some answers. I found the book helpful to an extint, but the author contradicted himself several times and never seemed to come up with an answer. There were a few times I had force myself to keep reading and then the subject would shift slightly and I'd get interested again. I think the book would have had a bigger impact on me if it wasn't so repetitive. Although it wouldn't be something I'd read again, I am glad I read it, and I think anyone that is having disheartening thoughts about going to church should read it and see if they get something more from it than I did. I've read many good reviews about the book, it just didn't give me what I was looking for.

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  • Posted August 11, 2009

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    Real Church, by Larry Crabb

    I've sometimes been taken to church by well-meaning relatives and friends trying to convert me, so I thought I would like to read "Real Church: Does it exist? Can I find it?" by Larry Crabb. Thomas Nelson sent me a copy as part of the Book Review Bloggers program.

    This is not a typical book. It begins with the author acknowledging that he felt inspired and alive during a liberal service in a church that embraced even people of different beliefs and lifestyles, although he's a conservative and evangelical. That was honest of him. I also never expected to read the following:

    "After fifty-plus years of calling myself a Christian, I sometimes teeter on the brink of atheism."

    I'm not sure what to make of this. The author comes off as devout in his faith in the rest of the book, so I'm not convinced of his flirtation with the Dark Side. For instance, he admits that God does not always answer prayers and this is sometimes very hard on the people doing the praying, but some level of unhappiness and suffering is necessary in this world to make us search for God. I've got my own thoughts about that, but I'll move on to the main theme of the book, where I'm more in agreement.

    What makes a real church? According to this book, not a Prayer of Jabez-type attempt to gain a better life, nor a constant emotional experience of God, nor a focus only on saving lost souls and keeping them in a suitable condition for heaven.

    "I don't want to go to a church that believes Jesus came to earth only to get me into heaven when I die and to keep me good until I get there."

    That's quite a step away from the emphasis on conversion that I've seen in a lot of other Christian literature.

    Larry Crabb believes a real church is one which recognizes the failed and fallen nature of everyone, without making this either a priest-to-confessor thing or a spectacle "where shamed sinners reveal all their secrets while grace-imitating voyeurs look on with empathy". A real church is one which emphasizes a relationship with God, but one which surprises you (rather than the comfort of a situation where you always know what God is going to do, because he always agrees with you and gives you what you want).

    A real church also recognizes that we're all addicts to something - with some people, it's a tangible addiction such as a dependence on a drug, and with other people, it's less obvious because it's a dependence on approval or attention, and this can even work for them under the right circumstances. There's more that I won't summarize because this review would be even longer if I did, but I found this book a refreshing and humble take on churches. I don't agree with the theology, but I agree with the psychology.

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  • Posted August 7, 2009

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    Real Church

    The title caught my attention but I can't say that I would recommend it. Although Real Church is an easy read with short chapters, which is a plus for me, I never could quite get into it. As I read this book I was able to relate with a lot of what Crabb was questioning but as I said, this book didn't do it for me.

    Overall I give Real Church 3 stars.

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  • Posted August 7, 2009

    Real Church - Not quite what I expected

    My prompting for reading this book involved my daughters, and, to a smaller degree, my wife and me. My daughters are hungry for a place that talks to and feeds them, spiritually. They also need a place to worship and commune with folks of their own age. Therefore, when I saw this book, I felt it would be beneficial. The sub-title also led me in this path, which reads "Does it exist?" and "Can I find it?". So I got the book.

    Personally, this was a very hard book for me to read and finish. I put it down numerous times with the the thought being that I would not/could not finish it.

    I had a very difficult time getting past the "I don't want to go to church" statement at the beginning of this book. That correctly led me to the conclusion that this book would be another church bashing exercise, and sadly, I was right.

    I felt that Larry Crabb spent a lot of time talking down church in general. I felt that the author made too many assumptions on the past iterations of the church. I felt that his impressions of what the church should be was not really documented as it should have been in his writing. His scriptural references were not solid, and were too sparse to be of consequence. For the most part, his references during what could be controversial sections were absent.

    I also had difficulty with his parenthetical comments. To me, it was almost as if he should have melded his parenthetical comments with his actual comments to arrive at a better statement. Instead, they were divergent and therefore made the reading more difficult.

    Honestly, I feel that that while Satan can influence a church to be quite off with respect to the Bible, I feel that the driving decision point for a person attending or not attending a church (defined in the classic sense: a body of believers meeting as one in a certain location) should be doctrine. Larry Crabb does not teach this.

    This book was a complete disappointment and I cannot recommend that anyone read it, especially new believers. It may be only the second book I discard. The other book would be the Book of Mormon.

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  • Posted August 5, 2009

    Real Church

    I just finished this book. If you had asked me if I would recommend it while I was reading the first half, I would have definitely said, "no." But, I pressed on. And when I came to the second half, I discovered that this book is definitely worth reading.

    So, first, skim the first half and then read the second half. The premise of this book is the question of what does real church look like? What should the churches we belong to look like--but more importantly who should we as members be? How should we love the body that we belong to? What does that even mean?

    The reason I would recommend a skimming of the first half is that Crabb seems to spend a very long time talking about the opposite side in order to make the points that he wants to make in each chapter in the first half. And as a reader, I got mired down and distracted and even upset by what I was reading as he tried to make his point. He uses words that could definitely cause the hairs on your back to stand up (like a cats) when you're wary. The specific example I have in mind is when he mentions that one of the two churches he likes to go to is led by a Biblically Grounded Mystic, who I believe is a woman. What image does that conjure in your mind? It conjured very strange ones in mine--I kept thinking of Saul and the witch that he consulted. I consulted a bookstore owner I respect and he explained that a biblically grounded mystic is someone who believes that experiencing the relationship with Christ is important but that that experience doesn't trump the Bible. Ah, that helps! But, I wish Crabb had explained that (even as a footnote) in his book. I had a hard time understanding where he was coming from when he said that was his favorite book. A second statement that caught me off guard was when he talked about the results by of a study done by Willow Creek. What he states isn't true. I did some checking via Google.

    But, I digress. At this point, you may wonder why I think this is worth reading if it ruffled my feathers so much! The second half is good. In fact, very good. He talks about what it means to really have a relationship with Christ. And what that looks like in a church--in a real, rather than superficial way. That is where the good meat of this book is--the part really worth reading. Eugene Peterson wrote a book several years ago about Spiritual Theology. Basically, Crabb is writing about the same thing--the need to have a spiritual theology in a less academic way. I greatly respect Peterson's writings, but they are often too deep for me to digest. He is my husband's favorite author. But, I understand the need for this discussion and so I am very glad I read this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    Real Church Book Review

    I have read many books by Larry Crabb. My favorite of his being Inside Out. So I had very high expectations for "Real Church: Is It Out There, Can I find It" as I also have experienced many frustrations with the Western church I currently serve in. I feel like we have gone soft and have chosen to install cafe and book stores in our churches instead of going into the world and being in the world, but not of it. I know I totally just scripture dropped, sorry.
    Real Church begins with Crabb expresses what he believes t be the problems in the church today. How we are not really serving anyone but ourselves. As you continue to read though; you realize that some of these things you have also been completely frustrated with, or have in some part unconsciously taken part in the patterns and routines that are creating a distanced Western Church. 150 In the rest of the book, Crabb begins to unravel some of his great insight into the ways we as a church can better serve the globe, our communities, and our congregants. Most importantly, I think it is important that we all take our part in being the Real Church. WE are the Real Church, and we must strive to continue to advance the name of Christ in the Real manner.

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  • Posted July 29, 2009

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    book Review: Real Church

    In Real Church, Larry Crabb confesses a loss of desire to attend church. I believe many of us would admit to the same thing if we were being honest; however, Crabb takes it further. In a stunningly honest fashion, Crabb explores his lack of enthusiasm with church as we know it. First, Crabb identifies the different church models that are prevalent today and then explores how each falls short of ideal. Crabb then identifies the qualities that a church should be striving to possess.

    I found Real Church to be a refreshing critique of how our western church often misses the mark spiritually. Crabb is able to earn credibility with the reader by honestly admitting his own flaws and short-comings. He writes earnestly of the worldly addictions that are competing with his desire to become more like Jesus. Reading the confessions of a Christian leader in his sixties helped me feel more comfortable with the competing desires in my own heart. By identifying his own needs, Crabb is then able to envision a church that actually meets the needs of its congregation.

    Crabb was able to put in words feelings that I've often had regarding attending church. Far too often, church leaders are quick to judge and condemn Christians who lack enthusiasm for church. Crabb is able to get past the finger pointing and guilt to actually write something productive. I highly recommend this book for people who are unsatisfied with their church (even if they aren't sure why). I also believe all church leaders who desire to build an authentic Christian community should read this book carefully. I will be placing Real Church on my must read list.

    NOTE: This review is written by a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program -

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  • Posted July 28, 2009

    Keep an open mind

    Some people might not take too kindly to Larry Crabb's declaration that he has no desire to go to church, but the fact of the matter is Real Church is an honest investigation into why some "believers" are becoming discontented with church. Given that I've felt the same way, I began reading this book with an open mind.

    Although the book can be difficult to follow, Crabb makes some enlightening comments, entertaining observations and excellent analogies. Yes, it's from his perspective (which is the only perspective he can truthfully take), but it is something that can resonate with a variety of people. It's a book I would recommend one reading to begin their journey to discovering a real church.

    I think Crabb presents the information in a way that offers his results, but leaves it open for you to make a choice yourself. As a Book Review Blogger for Thomas Nelson, I am extremely glad I was afforded the opportunity to read this book. It gave me comfort in knowing that others are thinking the same as I am and are just as doubtful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2009

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    Nuggets of Gold that Require Digging to Find

    Larry Crabb's book Real Church addresses why so many Christians go to church with the wrong motives and why so many other Christians feel unfilled and left empty by church, and he attempts to draw light to what the right motives for going to church might be and how the church should act as a vessel of Christ.

    Crabb reminds his readers that all people have the same problem: an addiction to self. An addiction that only God can counter.

    Crabb points out the pros and cons in the popular modern church which focuses on morals, experience, entertainment, and mission. He also reminds readers that hope in God comes before experience in God. We can't expect to "feel" God's presence all of the time in this life. We only have a taste of what has yet to come. Our emptiness serves only to give us a gnawing hunger for God, a hunger we should oblige by reading our Bibles and seeking to become like Christ.

    Dig for gold in Crabb's book, and you will find it. Crabb's gold, however, does not fit the whole, nor does it flow together. The many things he covers in his book are deep issues that any reader can relate to, but they don't necessarily have to do with church; and if they do have to do with the church, Crabb only gives his readers general ideas of how to implement them.

    Crabb fails in other areas, as well. His writing style, while informal, may annoy some readers with its awkward wordings, contradictions, and interrupting parentheses.

    Crabb does, however, speak to the heart. If readers are the truth seeking Christians Crabb tries to revive in His book, they will find the nuggets of gold in his book and will apply them to their own lives. Hopefully, one person changing at a time can ultimately change what Crabb calls "churchianity" into the Real Church.

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  • Posted July 20, 2009

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    Real Church by Larry Crabb

    Do you believe In God but just don't feel interested in church and attending it? So does Larry and in his book "Real Church" he tells you how he feels about the matter. He tells you his input and what he thinks church's don't fulfil and what they do successfully. It's a book that really makes you think about church and if your spiritual needs are getting met, if you stand for what your church says, if you think you can follow the Lord's better without a church, and how do you think of the church. The reasons why you go even if it is to meet new people, because you enjoy, or even if you attend for your kids to grow up in a nice church setting.

    This book was meaningful and had depth to it. It's defiantly a book I would read again, without a doubt. It showed me a new meaning to the church I have and the church I want to go to. The way Larry Crabb approaches the subject is not boring at all. He makes you want to hear what he has to say and better yet you understand! This is a wonderful book that everyone must read!

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

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    Bold, Provocative!

    While reading this book, my first response was to jump up and down and yell and scream a big "YES!" because Larry has bravely put into words the desperate cry of my own heart.

    If I could, I would put this book into the hands of every pastor, every church leader, and every person whose soul is thirsty for more. I would stand behind the bored, tired pastor to make sure he reads every word, and then engage him in honest conversation that, maybe for the very first time, exposes the deepest motives of his heart and challenges him to move past apathetic acceptance to the thrill of encountering Jesus and catching the rhythm of His kingdom in community.

    One warning--reading this book may stir in you a hunger and thirst for more . . .

    Brenda Branson

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