Cover Image: Reason to Return

Reason to Return

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Member Reviews

My thoughts:
The author gives many reasons women have left church. Maybe it is busyness, shame, past experiences, etc that has cause women to leave the church. While those are legitimate reasons I think this book glosses over the notion that women have left churches due to power dynamics. Women are not given proper leadership roles in many American churches. I think the author handles her opinion on the topic well but I think it is lacking in areas. I do agree with the main argument that the church needs women. The Church, even before the church was established, has benefited from women's presence, voice, and leadership.

Who is this book for:
It appears this book is for women who are interested in attending church. Maybe for the first time or the first time in. along time.

Questions, comments, concerns:
A common concern in books like these is the shame and push back against people who worship by video or livestream. This might not be the ideal method of church but it is all some are able to access and that shouldn't be shamed.

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Hard nope on this one.

The title and description led me to believe that this book would be a reimagining of what women can do for the church based in robust theology. It’s not. It’s a typical fluffy book written for moms that are maybe a little unhappy with their church.

There is a real epidemic of people leaving the church over tough issues, and that’s what I was hoping to read about. Not a book telling me to just suck it up and get back to church because that’s where community is! I was looking for hope that things can be better and this just isn’t it.

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In Reason to Return, Ericka Andersen details the current issue of women in the church. There are many reasons why women have left the church over the years - she details these reasons in the first part of the book. It is a serious problem that not enough people are discussing. But women leaving the church is not just an issue for churches, it is also an issue for women. In the same way that churches need women, women need the church. While Andersen discusses the legitimate reasons why women leave the church she follows those reasons with reasons for women to stay (or return).

I applaud Andersen for tackling this topic and hope that this book will provide encouragement to many.

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Reason to Return is written to that woman who has walked away from the church (or wanted to) for any reason. Ericka Andersen invites us to come back to God and His People, sharing a picture of the church and its role in our spiritual lives that is absolutely beautiful. Andersen begins by discussing some of the reasons that women leave the church, sharing her own personal struggles with God's people. Then she talks about why we should reconsider. She closes with the vision that God shares for the church and what it can be, and invites us to come back to church and join in on the fun!

While this book lacked spiritual depth and content, it did offer a beautiful vision of what the church can be when we as a broken people unite to pursue God's glory. On one hand, I loved Ericka's personal reflections throughout the book as well as the empathy and honesty she showed. She really loves the church and its people, and the book is warm and inviting. However, I often felt like she neglected to dig into what the Bible has to say about the church, often skirting deeper passages on what the church is and Scripture's commandments about its role in our lives. I did appreciate the interesting statistics about churchgoing, but at least for me, very little of this was new information. This book would be best for those who have walked away from the church or have never been and are considering it. As a long-time churchgoer, it did not have much for me. But if you have thought about church and are worried about being judged or politicized or are just too busy, check out Ericka's book--she just might change your mind!

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This book just isn't for me. The church is built by God; it's of Him, for Him, and to Him. This book makes church about us. Obviously, women serve in the church and can be served but that's not what it's about. The Reason to Return should be to worship God. Not because we're looking for some selfish reasons. I'm sure there are women who've been hurt by PEOPLE in churches that would love to read this book. Personally think there are much better options out there.

*I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my review.

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A powerful and timely book that is going to be an encouragement to many. As I journey back into church community it is helpful and non threatening. I am excited to see what God has planned

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Working as a nurse in the ER, I tend to people's physical needs. There is no escaping the fact that when there's a missing finger, chunk of skin or a tooth, it doesn't belong to their body anymore. Even if it's carried in on ice or a glass of milk, it's been separated.

Paul uses the metaphor of the body all throughout his letters to describe the unity of believers in Christ, as we serve others with our gifts for the purpose of building up the church. Severed fingers no longer function, they must be connected in order to have strength and purpose.

Have you been struggling to return to church?

After pandemic restrictions eased, online church became a convenient, cozy alternative for many. No chasing kids to get ready, no early alarm and you can sit in the comfort of your home with a cup of coffee in your sweatpants to hear the Word taught.

Then, in a random, maybe hopeful, gesture, you went to a service, only to find your church has changed. There's new faces, so many new faces, that you felt overwhelmed and awkward, unsure of your place. People watching you became too much, your heart thudding loudly in your chest, your breathing shallow, sweaty palms uncomfortable, and you retreated back to the safety of your home.

Or there's been hurt. An offence taken to heart, a sin done against you and reconciliation, like a lighthouse on a distant shore, seems too far to paddle through the tumultuous waves.

Whatever the reason, you're not alone.

Ericka Andersen writes, Reason to Return to help women understand why they need the church. In the book, she highlights reasons women leave the church, what should cause us to pause and reconsider, and why church is worth pursuing. There's 27 chapters in total, and each is fairly short. The style of writing is more like a memoir, as she shares her personal experiences in the church and stories from others.

I know there's a lot of baggage when we sort through our own emotions, hesitations, and struggles when it comes to attending church. But we can't allow our feelings to dictate truth. The Christ-follower places God's Word at the front of the line when deciphering how to live and why.

It may mean taking some time to talk it through with a trusted friend, mentor, elder or pastor – or with a counsellor about how you're coping.

Remember, just as we're a body to serve together, we also walk alongside each other, encouraging, comforting, and suffering side by side. So, if you've not missed a beat, I'd invite you to seek out others hesitating on the fringes and take time to connect meaningfully with them.

Returning to church is such an important conversation in the wake of the pandemic, the surge in online church, the publicity of those deconstructing from their faith, and ongoing reports of church scandals. In the midst of all these events, some of us long to reconcile our faith with what's happening, and if we isolate ourselves, we’ll just come up short.

If you're looking for a practical book, this isn't it. There's stories to illustrate her points. But, unfortunately, the message I hear when reading this is, "go to church because it's good for you."

I can't argue with that, church community is good for us and our families, but not because the data tells us that, rather because God does. He’s given us His Word to remind us of His goodness, of the Gospel as our hope and how He’s created us to dwell in community for His glory and for the good of others. More than anything, when we're taken aback by hurt and confusion related to church, we need a grander vision of our gracious God and understanding what He's doing in and through His church to solidify our "why" of returning.

I think our opinions are important but if I'm a Christian woman wondering what reason there is to go back to church, opinions won't suffice. Biblical teaching is needed to point us back to God's Word so the Holy Spirit can teach us, correct us, reprove us, and train us. So, as much as I value this conversation, I'd not recommend this book.

I also noted that instead of using the term husband, she refers to a woman's spouse as their partner. I don't know if that's intentional, but in a book written to Christian women it would seem simple to refer to a spouse as husband...unless it meant something else.

So, in light of that, here's three books I've read that provide biblical teaching and practical application for the believer needing some wind in their sails when it comes to believing God's design for the church.

Quick Stats
# of pages: 256
Level of Difficulty: Easy
My Rating: 2.5 stars

*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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I did not know what to expect from this book but was curious to know what reasons Andersen would provide and I was not disappointed. There are many valid reasons given in the book's pages for attending or returning to, church. Her chapter on rituals and building a meaningful life was particularly compelling. Highly recommended for anyone curious about this subject, or who is curious at what reasons might draw someone else in. Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC.

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This is an absolute treasure; a beautiful book in so many ways. Ericka offers gentle insights and advice for women who may feel lost or disenfranchised with their church experience. This is one I'll return to again and again. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.

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I look forward to reading this daily because I need the inspiration. I haven’t finished it or anything because that’s not I wanna use this. But it’s awesome!

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