Happy Church: Pursuing Radical Joy as the People of God, By Tim McConnell alt

Happy Church

Pursuing Radical Joy as the People of God

by Tim McConnell
Foreword by John Ortberg

Happy Church
  • Length: 183 pages
  • Published: January 06, 2016
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 9369
  • ISBN: 9780830893690

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Most Christians resist the idea that we are to pursue happiness. We are more comfortable with the idea of finding joy or being blessed. But seeking happiness seems too superficial or too flighty for people of faith.

In Happy Church, Tim McConnell offers a radical call for Christians to reclaim happiness. Happiness flows from the joy of the Lord and being glad in Christ. When the church expresses happiness, we are making a countercultural choice that the world cannot help but notice. "It's time to bring the happy back," he says. "It's time to get serious about happiness."

This is a book to read with your small group or congregation, with discussion questions to help you become happy together. You'll discover that God's call to the church is to radiate happiness—because we live in a world that desperately needs it.

"Churches, just like you and me, can focus on the wrong things and lose joy and wonder. God—who is a joy-lover himself—has given us enormous blessings to make us glad! Tim has provided a wonderful tool for churches and leaders to learn to be a happy community glorifying God for all he has done for us."

John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, author of Soul Keeping and All the Places to Go

"Happy Church is a welcome reminder that the Christian journey is indeed a blessed life, and that the desire for happiness is not to be avoided. Tim McConnell reminds us in thoroughly readable and wonderfully funny prose that the happy life is about wanting to be used for God's glory. This book is the ideal companion for anyone who wishes to bring the happiness of full surrender in Christ to their own life and their faith community."

D. Michael Lindsay, president, Gordon College

"Reading Tim's book changed the way I lead. I want to lead a happy people of God, and that means I want to lead with more joy, more happiness, more exuberance because of what Christ has done for us. It's important. It reflects a joyful God when the people of God celebrate joy. Read it. And stop being such a grump."

From the foreword by John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, author of Soul-Keeping and The Life You've Always Wanted

"In this highly individualistic culture, happiness can often be reduced to self-serving emotionalism. Happy Church is a timely book for those living in a society desperately seeking happiness through medication, therapy, sex, consumerism and false promises of prosperity. McConnell offers an important corrective that is theologically grounded in the Scriptures and draws from the rich history of Christian tradition."

Tony Tian-Ren Lin, research scholar, Institute for the Advanced Study in Culture, University of Virginia

"Pessimists, skeptics and curmudgeons take note: you are allowed to be happy—and so is your church! In a world where books about brokenness and suffering top the bestseller lists, Happy Church comes as a breath of fresh and joy-filled air. Using a captivating blend of biblical research, scholarly insight and real-life encounters with gladness, Tim McConnell's Happy Church gives us both reason and permission to rejoice, even in life's most difficult moments. Yes, life is hard (and the Bible says it will be so) but as Tim McConnell says, 'Your church is allowed to be happy!' And the good news, according to McConnell, is that the happiness is already in there—we just need to know how to get it out."

Jodie Berndt, author of Praying the Scriptures for Your Children

"Church, get your happy on! Happy Church invites Christians to the 'serious business of happy' as God's beloved. Tim takes us to the well of Scripture and the great thinkers of the church to give us deep and practical tools for Christians to be the happy that God always intended—and the happy the world is longing to have."

Marnie Crumpler, executive pastor, Peachtree Presbyterian Church

"Happy Church is not just a corrective to the dour, joyless expressions of Christian faith commonly found in American churches. It's actually a primer on the sturdy practices that have animated healthy churches for centuries. With clear, accessible prose, McConnell interweaves ancient insights from the early church fathers with contemporary scholarship and compelling illustrations from his own pastoral ministry. While I doubt the word 'happy' can be rescued from its often-shallow connotations, McConnell has achieved something better: he has resurrected the glorious doctrine of the church for a generation that has lost it. Christians seeking to enrich their experience of Christ in the local church will do well to read this book."

Walter Henegar, senior pastor, Atlanta Westside Presbyterian Church

"Authentic Christianity is hugely attractive—it is also happy. The church in the West could learn much from our biblical ancestors—and also our brothers and sisters who worship in less hospitable conditions, yet display a deeply irrepressible vibrancy, life in all its fullness. This book argues the point and is rooted in practice. The biblical church is enthusiastic, passionate and energetic: a community of people whose encounter with God has made them genuinely happy. This book reflects Tim McConnell's authentic Christian faith and the happy attitude that characterizes his growing church. Authentic book, authentic pastor, authentic man."

Andrew Alden, vicar, St. Paul's Church, Weston-super-Mare, UK

"I am delighted and honored to recommend to you a wonderful resource titled Happy Church. My good friend Tim McConnell has done an outstanding job of capturing the essence of why the church should be the happiest place on earth. For any pastor or staff member attempting to instill a spirit of joy, this is a must-read!"

Dwight "Ike" Reighard, president and CEO, MUST Ministries, senior pastor, Piedmont Church

"I have known Tim since his days in college, and this book reflects his personality—a solid, biblical faith combined with the ability to stand back from the Christian religion and examine it in the context of following Jesus. This book challenges us to think not about what we do but why we do it as people who want to live lives reflecting Jesus and his love for us. This is a good resource that reminds all pastors to examine their first love."

Simon Barnes, chief executive officer, Send a Cow

"The need for happiness in Christ's church is not superficial or sentimental; rather, it is critical for those in the church and for its mission. It is about worship, being the family of God and love for neighbor."

Justin S. Holcomb, coauthor of Rid of My Disgrace

"Tim McConnell's Happy Church is a breath of fresh air. Here we have a wonderful, clear, grounded antidote for Eeyore Christians everywhere. Happy Church is a book the church needs in a serious way."

Don Everts, author of Go and Do

"Curmudgeons, beware! Happy Church wrests a smile from stress-addled doers and incites rampant hope in those grappling with suffering. Scripture provides the melody and McConnell calls forth voices from his merry band, including Lewis, Chesterton, Piper and Ortberg, irresistibly beckoning the reader into joy. This book is a delight."

Glenn Lucke, Docent Research Group

"Well-written, penetrating, and insightful. Discussion questions included. Recommend to every believer, especially pastors, and group leaders."

David Mundt, CBA Retailers+Resources, February 2016


Foreword by John Ortberg
1. Getting Serious About Happiness
2. Where Is the Happy Church?
3. Satisfied in the Word
4. God's Instrument of Praise
5. Prayers of the People
6. Laughing Matters
7. The People of Limitless Hope
8. Suffering the Mission of Joy
9. The Future Feast We Taste
10. When the Church Is Heaven's Sunlight
Small Group Discussion Questions


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Tim McConnell

Tim McConnell (PhD, University of Virginia) is lead pastor of First Presbyterian Church (ECO) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is the author of Happy Church and Illumination in Basil of Caesarea's Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He has served as a chaplain in the US Army Reserve, worked as the director of graduate ministries for the Center for Christian Study in Charlottesville, Virginia, and has taught Christian history and theology at undergraduate and seminary settings. Tim currently serves on the national Theological Task Force for his church, ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Born in Germany to a military family, Tim was raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He came to Christ through Young Life and has been devoted to ministry since, promoting the love and knowledge of God to the best of his ability. He holds degrees from Northwestern University, Princeton Theological Seminary, Oxford University, and the University of Virginia. Tim lives in Colorado Springs with his wife Abigail and four children.