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Life After Church: God's Call to Disillusioned Christians Paperback – November 30, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 189 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; PRINT-ON-DEMAND edition (November 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830836063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830836062
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Wow!!! Sanders has my attention. And the book never gets bitter or ruthless. It expresses the pain, not of unrealistic idealists who are not able to be satisfied, but of honest men and women who see what the rest of us do not want to see, for whatever may be our reasons. Read this book. Read this book. Read this book." (Don Bryant, pastor, Coastal Church, Hanover, Massachusetts)

"This is the only book I know of that is about leaving church, not in the sense of tossing in the towel, but of thoughtful, deliberate, wise leaving because one's heart burns for the kingdom more than one's local church does. This book is not crazy or angry; it's thoughtful, judicious, and programmatic for those who want to pick up stakes and do church differently, more radically." (Scot McKnight, from

"I'm blown away by Life After Church. I've never yet seen a book of its kind that addresses those who 'stay' in church and those who leave! It's a significant book." (Mike Morrell, editor, The Ooze, and emerging church coordinator, Not For Sale Campaign)

"Hopeful, prophetic, Brian Sanders speaks for the many among us who long for the kingdom of God--but find ourselves frustrated by the church as we know it. In Life After Church he offers a gentle, constructive and hopeful vision of how we can reform ourselves as a body to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world. Simple but not simplistic, prophetic but not angry, Brian's writing is honest about the struggle to live authentic faith, striking a careful balance between honoring the past and inviting us to imagine what could be." (Mark A. Scandrette, author, Soul Graffiti, and executive director and cofounder, ReIMAGINE!)

"For anyone who really believes Christ is Lord and head of the church, this book is a real roller coaster. At first I found myself angry and defensive in response to Sanders's critique, and yet I also found myself resonating with his deep longing for the church to be more. For those of us staying, Sanders and his 'leavers' articulate important questions. They are critical questions for the leaders of any church that desires to be faithful to its Christ-given mission and relevant to a new generation." (Candie Blankman, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Downey, California)

"There is a growing awareness of the extent of the 'back door' problem facing many churches. It is often assumed that church leavers represent either the disgruntled transferring to other churches or those who have abandoned their Christian faith. In reality, many are leaving churches out of disillusionment and frustration to continue their spiritual pilgrimage. Brian Sanders tackles this important topic with a clear, analytical mind. He identifies the complex process of leaving a church, and suggests practical ways it can be done in a responsible manner. Most important of all, he argues that leaving must lead to a fresh vision and renewed commitment to Christ, community and the kingdom of God." (Eddie Gibbs, author, ChurchNext)

"I love this book; I hate this book. I love this book because Brian's longing heart is so big he can write a sentence like 'God's vision for his church is so magnificent, so beautiful, that we can never leave it without leaving him.' I hate this book because it might encourage disillusioned people to leave the church--and as Brian says, that would be leaving God behind too. But if you're wrestling with the church, Brian is a great wrestling coach." (Kevin A. Miller, executive vice president and publisher, Christianity Today International)

More About the Author

Brian Sanders is the founder and Executive Director of the Underground Network, an international coalition of missional churches united by the prophetic call to love the poor, reach the lost and seek biblical justice. The Underground Network is rooted in Tampa, Florida where he lives with his wife Monica and their six children.

Customer Reviews

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If you only have 2 out of 3 then it's not what church is in a New Testament sense.
John R. DiLullo
I especially respected the manner in which he asks his readers to grapple with the Biblical definition of "the Church."
Kathleen Angel
It is to both the leavers and the seriously disaffected that Sanders addresses his book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By on July 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
In some religious circles, there is no greater heresy than walking away from church. For that and many other reasons, some Christians go through the motions week after week, attending church services that leave them feeling spiritually numb, hollow, or worse. But others have chosen to make the exodus, because to stay would be to live a lie. Brian Sanders calls these people "leavers" --- Christians who love God but who cannot in good conscience continue to be a part of a traditional church.

Sanders knows these leavers well, because he is one of them.

A member of an intentional faith community in inner-city Tampa, Florida, Sanders walked away from church 10 years ago. Early on in the book, he offers this commentary on church as we in America know it: "I still can't fathom what it is about traditional church services that people like. All of it seems so tedious to me --- on the best days tolerable, on the worst painful." What he knew then, and what he has discovered in the intervening years, is that many Christians share that perspective. Some have left the church, but others remain, often out of guilt --- and then they compound the guilt by feeling guilty about continuing to attend services under false pretenses. It is to both the leavers and the seriously disaffected that Sanders addresses his book.

The "leavers" Sanders writes about are not people who have simply left one church in search of another, but rather those who have left church itself --- or, as he puts it, "the experience of church as we know it." He quotes one contributor who compared church services to the movie Groundhog Day, in which the main character is forced to live through the same experiences day after day after day.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By H Rich on January 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you love God? Do you want, and try, to become more like Christ each day? Do you feel like your local church is helping you, or hindering you? If you have ever wondered if you are the only one who feels disconnected from God during church services, this book is for you. If you sit through a "worship service" and wonder what abundant life would be like, this book is for you. If you have ever wondered why you are so frustrated with church, this book is for you. So many times, we as church leaders accuse those who leave the church of being uncommitted and backsliders. Maybe, just maybe, people are leaving the church to find God. Maybe we have it backwards. Read this book.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By John R. DiLullo on February 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brian Sanders delivers what the title of the book is: Life After Church. It does exist and it can happen. Before I get to the "But...." let me say what I like.

He gives some good advice on what can be a painful time. Some of what the book talks about I have been way past for some time now, like the question of "should I stay or should I go now?" (I'll leave my review of The Clash for some other time <smile>). If you find yourself in that situation then give the man a read. You just might find a little stability in a turbulent storm. I also like the empahsis on the Kingdom of God. That was the emphasis in Jesus' ministry and we need to understand it a little better if we claim to be his followers. Another thing I like is, for those of us who have already left, the advice to make something better, not just tear down what we don't like about traditional church structures. I have seen enough of that in my own spiritual pilgrimage. It doesn't take much to point out obvious failures but making a viable alternative sometimes gets lost. And, of course, trying to find people who are willing to let go of the comfortable methods and structures we were raised with and go with something else.... well that's another story.

Now comes the "But...." In chapter 4, Brian Sanders shares what he feels "church" is in a New Testament sense. To have it involves worship, community, and mission. If you only have 2 out of 3 then it's not what church is in a New Testament sense. It might not be bad but you can't call it "church' either. I agree with that 100%. In the New Testament, "church" NEVER meant a building or a meeting time for religious activities. It always meant a gathering of people, called together for a specific purpose.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eva Rotariu on July 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
The book is very good for christians struggling with leaving their church. Leavers are clearly defined as people who leave because staying prevents them from developing their full potential in God and ruins their relationship with Him. They are so important for the advancement of the church - they show churches the 'dead fish' that poison their shores and should be removed. He calls them 'prophetic leavers'.

Still, the only two options he gives are stay or leave to start another church.

After leaving an extremely abusive church, going through counselling and a lot of study and personal search for God's vision for my life I find there is a third option. I see christianity in a whole different way. I agree that many will start a different kind of church, more fresh and more biblical - but I have been praying so much that God shows me HIS plan for the church, the way HE intended christianity to be, HIS plan for mankind. I am slowly understanding how He is so willing to lovingly affect people in everyday life - even those that run away from churches. I understand there is a way of bringing God into the lives of those who reject churches and reject the idea of God, because they don't reject God Himself, they reject the conotation God and christianity have in their minds (a very bad conotation unfortunately created by christians themselves). It is just a matter of language.

I now think there is a third possibility - a life ministry that is not based upon church and Bible mainly, but on God's character first and utmost. There are ways to speak God to people who don't understand and don't give authority to the Bible or the church.

Many reject the gospel message presented in the classical way - Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, etc.
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