I found Real Church by Larry Crabb to be interesting, challenging and thought provoking. At the beginning of the book he confesses that he has gotten to the point where he really feels no need to attend church. He goes on to describe at length the kind of church he would enjoy attending.
The church Crabb envisions would fully proclaim the entire Gospel of Christ as described in the New Testament, but would also fully embrace the sinfulness and struggles every believer faces, whether they willingly admit them or not. The main struggle we face is the warring of the two natures in those of us who are reborn: our old, sinful man, and the newly created man that comes with believing in Christ.
The church Crabb describes would be based on spiritual theology, spiritual formation, spiritual community, and spiritual mission. Spiritual theology is our understanding on God and His actions, especially as revealed in the person of Christ. Spiritual formation is the process we as believers are undergoing in becoming more and more like Him. Spiritual community would be a group of like-minded believers being totally transparent with one another, especially about their struggles. Spiritual mission would be taking our knowledge about God and His workings to those outside our community. Crabb discusses each idea in depth and also how the church is failing at or fulfilling these. He willingly acknowledges that this perfect vision will probably never be fulfilled until heaven, but prods us on to trying to fulfill them. He reminds us that though we can experience God on earth, most times we will not. He reminds us of our position in Christ and God, and the hope we have in our future of becoming like Him. He closes with reminding us that Jesus prayed for our unity (see John 17) and said that our relationships as the church would be what drew unbelievers into our body, and few of us are fulfilling that.
This book was a challenging read, though I enjoyed it as well. It truly has gotten me evaluating where I am in my relationship with the Lord, and also how far my church is to the place Crabb sees us all getting to. I think this book would be good for those who are evaluating their walks, and especially for pastors and those in ministry who would like to move their ministries closer to the ideal that Jesus has for all of us who make up His body.