Review: To Love and To Cherish From This Day Forward…A Portrait of a Healthy Church

June 1, 2011

To Love and To Cherish From This Day Forward…A Portrait of a Healthy Church by Randy Millwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Synopsis

In the pages of To Love and To Cherish From This Day Forward, Dr. Randy Millwood sets out to paint a different picture, a new picture of the Church: a portrait of a Church which is not a building, a business, an institution, a school, or an organization. Rather, a Church who is a person – a Bride – a Bride who adores Her Groom.

The goal of the book is to call Church members and leaders to get off the Church-As-Merry-Go-Round…take a deep breath…and to make the hard decision to look into the mirror and compare our churches to this portrait of a healthy Bride.

The author uses the portrait of the marriage process in scripture to talk about the transition that occurs when people move from pre-followers of Christ to spiritually formed Christ followers. As the church is being formed into the bride those in the local church are to be formed as well. Millwood poses a question all our churches should consider:

At the end of the day, at the end of the week, here is the only thing that matters – have you grown to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples so effectively that they look like, talk like, act like, and react like Jesus, more and more? That is what it is to wholly embrace our wonderful new identity. That is how Jesus spelled success. That is what it is to embrace the role of the Bride – the church.

If this is not who you are as a church – if it is not what you do as a Church, who exactly are you? What exactly are you doing? And why are you doing it?

That sums up the challenge this book offers.

Thoughts:
There are days when you read a book and think:” YES! This is exactly what I have been thinking about it!” As I read this book, this thought continued to come to mind. I have read many books on the church, but this is the book I most identify with. I think is the most important book on church health and the formation of the members of the body I have ever read.

The book is well written and easy to read. It is a hefty read, but an easy read. The author tells applicable stories in a writing style that enables you to comprehend the metaphor easily.

The author makes a confession that I and many others have at least thought as we struggle with the expression of church in 21st century Western culture: “I have come to see that it, in truth, was never the Bride with whom I had become disenchanted – it was the way she was adorning herself in my world and this time – focusing on stuff that didn’t seem to really matter.” He then sets out to help the reader see the process of the bride adorning herself properly as she becomes the Bride of Christ and how that adornment is expressed.

The book is written by a strong ministry practitioner. Dr. Millwood has served in churches for most of his adult life, and despite the fact that he is a denominational employee, he still serves a church in addition to consulting with churches. That is one of things I appreciate the most about him and his writing – they both are born out of a servant’s heart for the church and as one who is not working on theory that others implement, but his own implementation of the biblical call.

This book should be on the top of your reading list for next year. It’s powerful metaphor produces a motivating reaction to see your local bride look beautiful on the wedding day!

Praise for the book:
Leaders need to make sure they are working on the right questions. Answering the wrong questions precisely right still won’t matter! Randy Millwood gives church leaders a better set of questions to work on than the ones consuming so many. Don’t read this book if you want to figure out how to do church better; by all means read it if you want to BE church better.

Reggie McNeal
Author of Missional Renaissance: Changing The Scorecard for the Church
Missional Leadership Specialist Leadership Network leadnet.org/reggiemcneal

Randy Millwood offers a powerful, personal contribution to missional writings as he provides sound theological insights cradled in stories of God’s transforming work in people, churches and the world. A tool for those in pulpits, pews and leadership in the world as the church at work in the world! Thanks Randy!

Edward Hammett
Author of Spiritual Leadership in a Secular Age Partner with The Columbia Partnership
www.thecolumbiapartnership.org

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.