Book Review: Sunday Matters, by Paul David Tripp

Review
05.06.2024

Paul David Tripp, Sunday Matters: 52 Devotionals to Prepare Your Heart for Church. Crossway, 259 pages.

 

The Bible assumes that Christians will need encouragement to go to church.

In Hebrews 10, we find these familiar words:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. (Heb. 10:24–26)

The church is to “stir one another up” by way of encouragement, as opposed to neglecting to gather regularly. It seems, based on the admonition, they need encouragement. They need to be encouraged to take advantage of their access to God (Heb. 10:19–22).

And the stakes couldn’t be higher. Not only is failing to assemble regularly a sin, but without gathering to receive encouragement, we’re also more prone to “go on sinning deliberately” (10:26). And if we continue down that path, it puts us on the sure road to apostasy—to not “holding fast to our confession” (Heb. 10:23) but losing our grip. Yikes.

Encouragement is critical because the dangers are real. That’s why I’m thankful Paul David Tripp has given us Sunday Matters, a tool to fuel this encouragement, to stave off the dangers of church neglect, and to re-engage us in the privilege of gathered worship with God’s people.

The book is structured in 52 brief (3–5 page) meditations that “prepare your heart for church.” Each chapter begins with a brief statement that is then expanded and expounded. Here’s a sampling:

  • Sunday 2: “Corporate worship is designed to encourage you to cry for help to the one who always knows exactly what you need and who will meet you with boundless love, infinite wisdom, incalculable power, and inexhaustible grace.”
  • Sunday 21: “Corporate worship is designed to produce in you a greater sadness than you’ve felt before (sin), resulting in a deeper joy than you’ve known before (grace), together producing more commitment to God’s will than you’ve had before (holiness).”
  • Sunday 43: “Corporate worship is designed to enthrall you with the ever-faithful, always-patient, still-abounding love of your Lord and Savior.”

Each chapter concludes with three useful application exercises: a passage of Scripture, reflection questions, and a guide for family discussion. And as another encouragement for those who (like me) tend to fall behind in weekly reading, each chapter does not correspond to a date on the calendar. They are just listed as Sundays 1–52. So, don’t get discouraged if you fall behind.

What makes the book particularly useful is the format. Not only are chapters brief, but their concluding questions also foster an environment where mutual encouragement can be given—from the author to the reader, and for a family or friends who might use the book for a post-breakfast, lunch, or dinner discussion on Saturday.

Pastors and churches could use Sunday Matters. The book could be (gently) given to a brother or sister in your church who struggles with regular church attendance. You might also consider encouraging brothers or sisters in your congregation to read it together, particularly with those whose attendance is spotty. If your church has sermon-based small groups, a mid-week prayer meeting, or a Bible study, then incorporating Sunday Matters into those settings might be a way to keep the glorious nature of Lord’s Day worship in front of your people and to encourage them that “Sunday’s comin’.”

One quibble: I believe these chapters could be strengthened if they all took their cues from biblical texts. How specifically does the Bible encourage saints to gather for corporate worship? Tripp could then offer text-rooted meditations, rather than what feels like in some instances (at least to this reviewer) like meditations in search of text.

I am thankful that Tripp takes Hebrews 10:24–25 seriously and has considered how to stir us up. May we receive its encouragement and go and do likewise.

By:
Mark Redfern

Mark Redfern is a pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY.

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