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Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation Paperback – July 30, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (July 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031026958X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310269588
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,573,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First-time author Cunningham is a 20-something who feels ambivalent about and alienated from the church. In 14 letters, she vents her frustrations, telling the church why she is dissatisfied and letting other disgruntled Gen-X and Gen-Y readers know they are not alone. Her generation digs technology, but still craves human intimacy and community. They value "authenticity" and thus are suspicious of churches where worship seems too polished, too "preplanned," too self-consciously cool. The Holy Spirit may move some people to leave their local church, and Cunningham thinks that's okay, as long as they find Christian community somewhere else and refrain from gossiping about the members of their ex-church. The book is not wholly devoted to complaining; Cunningham also highlights the aspects of church life that give her hope. She loves the resiliency and flexibility of the church. And she loves Jesus, who was simultaneously anti-institutional and deeply committed to the church. Cunningham's epistolary format is ironically gimmicky, drawing from the same wells as the inauthentic church services she critiques. Questions at the end of each chapter will help small groups who want to use this book as a jumping-off point for discussion, but ultimately, there is little here that hasn't been said before.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Back Cover

Dear Church is a series of letters from a twenty-something to the global church she’s not always sure she wants to be a part of. The author’s story awakens the voice of a younger generation whose attendance in the church is dropping, yet she encourages the church that their Christian faith is still alive and well. In the end, Dear Church tells a story that will be familiar to every age group: the story of overcoming disillusionment and staying the course. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

From living in a Chicago homeless shelter to leading a disaster relief team at Ground Zero, Sarah sunk her early twenties into whirlwind attempts to save the world.

After earning a degree in Urban Studies, she convinced Westwinds Community Church to create a new position for her: "Director of Outreach" (it sounded better than "Overzealous Social Activist" on business cards).

Three years later, Sarah married Chuck Cunningham and joined her new husband teaching area high schoolers and living in an an unfortunately pink house on the south side of Prison City (nicknamed such because it houses the state prison). These experiences combined to inspire Sarah's first book, Dear Church: Letters From a Disillusioned Generation.

Sarah went on to publish Picking Dandelions, a memoir-style collection of writings on spiritual change. She also contributed to the Mosaic Bible (Tyndale 2009), unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters by David Kinnaman (Baker Books, October 2007) and Out of the Ooze (NavPress, November 2007). In 2012, she released The Donkey in the Living Room, a 28-page illustrated children's book inviting families to unwrap manger scene figures and read each figure's story together in the days leading up to Christmas. She also has two upcoming releases, Portable Faith (Abingdon) and the Well Balanced World Changer (Moody) in 2013. Zondervan also plans to release a new, expanded edition of Dear Church in early 2014.

Amidst all the writing, Sarah became an idea junkie and freelance consultant to several mainstream Christian events. She also earned her Masters in Educational Leadership, none of which resulted in additional respect from her manic Jack Russell terrier, Wrigley. She and her husband currently live in southeast Michigan where Sarah serves as chief servant to the Emperor Justus (her 3 year old) and his chief of staff, Malachi (their 3 month old).

Sarah has contributed to Christian resources such as Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Publications and q ideas. She and her faith writings have been featured in a wide range of media, including the Dallas Morning News, the Wichita Eagle, the USA Today and Christianity Today's Leadership Journal.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Good insightful book with much good information.
M.E. Townsend
There is a deep passion for the church between the lines as Cunningham takes her readers through the journey of hope through disillusionment.
Ryan Throop
A must read for everyone inside and outside of the church.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Dolas III on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Sarah start her book with an exploration of why the twentysomething generation often can be disillusioned with the way church is done these days. But she gives us more than just a laundry list of complaints. This is the Church, after all, at the same time the Bride and the Body of Christ, the broken vessel made up of broken people that carries the hope of the gospel to all the world. All the hurts and frustrations and pains expressed by Sarah are really just aches of love and expressions of longing for a Church that seems to fall so short of what she ought to be.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Conrad Gempf on August 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Dear Church is not for you if you're in a church that is working well and you're involved and going great guns. It's probably not for you if you use expressions like "going great guns." I teach lots of younger, more interesting, quirky, edgy low-church folks who are uncomfortable, even disillusioned, with their churches -- with The Church. And that's who it's for. That's who will love it and benefit from it.

Sarah is one of those authors where you forget you're reading. It's more like she's sitting there across from you, sipping her skinny cappucino, eyeing your almond croissant and you're listening to her but knowing she's wondering whether she should've gotten one of those too. When you tell someone about one story or another (and you will because they're irresistable) you're really going to tempted to start it with "You know what Sarah told me yesterday?" I'm telling you, she's in the room with you; it's weird.

And not only are you in the same room, you're in the same boat. I mean it's like she's got her finger on your emotional pulse. She has. You'll love how she delights in your strengths; you'll squirm as she accurately describes your foibles. She's been there. And she's in the process of moving on past cynicism and disillusionment. She hasn't arrived yet, but she's moving on. And she shows you where she's going and look, there's room for you too. And it might mean leaving your church and starting something new and it might not. There's the pay-off. Here's how to tell if the book is for you: You are asking yourself one of these questions and Sarah doesn't give you the answer but helps you ask the rest of the questions as well: Is it time to leave? How do I leave without running away? How could I possibly stay without faking it?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Stevenson on July 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
When I first read the title Dear Church Letters from a Disillusioned Generation, I was hesitant. I have picked up too many books lately that seem to be birthed out of a harmfully "cool cynicism" that underline the church's defecits.

While this book may strike you as yet ANOTHER emergent driven college and career set publication, it packs a one/two punch that finally offers follow through and balance absent in previous attempts to get at this topic. The first half of the book (which introduces the reader to Generation Y and some of their concerns regarding the church) solidly connects with its disillusioned readers and may even leave some traditionalists in a bit of a panic. But after the book sinks in with its reader and their raw concerns, the author Sarah Cunningham redirects the book's same heart and energy to inspire her readers toward more lasting and mature involvement in Christ and His church.

I found the chapter on using the word "church" reminiscent of my own concerns over the last decade (I am now in my 30s). But the chapters on what to do when frustrated with the church represented missing content I wish I would've had at the time. The apology chapter and the love letter at the end will grab the attention and emotions of readers of all ages who have been around the church for a while.

By the last page I found myself mentally listing people I know who NEED to hear what this book gives: regret over losses along the way, but convincing reason to push through and move forward.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Throop on August 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Disillusionment! My experience of "church" has been nothing short of the word. In her book, "Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation," author, Sarah Cunningham, takes an authentic, raw look at today's institution of "church."

I grew up in an old-school, hell-fire-and brimstone Baptist congregation. Although it was never stated verbally, the message was strong and clear that piano and organ hymns were the only way to worship God, church doctrine was the most important thing in life, and the outward appearance was the only thing that mattered in your Christian life. Our family was part of this church for my entire childhood, yet "church" was just something you did on Sunday morning. As God took me through that time in my life, I was certainly given the foundation on which to base my life. However, as I learned to think on my own through high school and much of college I began to experience disillusionment for the very first time. At the time, I didn't know what it was, but I found myself getting bitter, maybe even angry toward the church. Questioning the entire church process and even my relationship with God and the church was part of my regular routine. Evan as the church went through a transition stage, there were still the hints of "old" that ate away at my spiritual life. For a period of time, I threw my hands up and gave up. If this was all there was, I wanted nothing to do with it! Knowing I would be moving away made it especially easy to transition out of "church."

After moving over two hours away from home, I found myself longing for the relationships that once were a part of my life. I started attending a church, which was a big step for myself.
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