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Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality Paperback – June 15, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“This is a book you’ll treasure and go back to over and over again. It’s convicting, funny, and wise. And even if you wince, it’s profoundly biblical. Meet the real Jesus and you’ll never be the same. And not only that, you’ll rise up and call me blessed for having told you about it.”
—Steve Brown, professor at Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando), author, and teacher on the Key Life radio program
“There is an anxious question in the air: does church contribute anything positive to following Jesus? If you are asking this question, the late Michael Spencer is someone who felt your pain. If you have left the church to follow Jesus, and if you find him, Jesus will lead you to a community of fellow followers—call it what you will. Mere Churchianity will guide you along this path.”
—Bishop Todd Hunter, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, author of Giving Church Another Chance
“Michael Spencer was a self-described ‘post-evangelical’ Christian. He pointed out what already was obvious to many: that too often, churches practice ‘moralistic, culture-war religion.’ And sadly, their members are ‘church-shaped’ rather than Jesus-shaped. Almost prophetic in his railing against the prosperity gospel and efforts to turn God into a ‘convenient vending machine,’ Spencer’s book offers a timely and difficult reimagining of what living as a person of faith really means.”
—Jennifer Grant, journalist, columnist for The Chicago Tribune
“Mere Churchianity expresses a brilliant empathy for those who are disillusioned with—and distant from—what evangelicalism has become. At the same time, Michael’s writing is a clarion call to evangelicals to stop obscuring Jesus and his gospel. This book asks the most challenging question of all: does the body of Christ resemble Jesus?”
—Jared C. Wilson, pastor, author of Your Jesus Is Too Safe
“If you are satisfied with the way the church does Christianity in America, then you should back slowly away. However, if you are willing to be challenged, and maybe even infuriated, by Michael Spencer’s analysis of evangelicalism, then read this book. You may or may not agree with him, but you will be forced to think and hopefully pray about how we engage those who have left our churches.”
—Dave Burchett, author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People
“Every Christian, regardless if they’re engaged in church or not, needs to read, discuss, and reread Mere Churchianity. Reading this book is like the best of Brennan Manning, Anne Lamott, and Philip Yancey all rolled into one literary experience. This is the best, most easily relatable book about following Jesus that I’ve read in at least ten years. What Michael left behind in words is nothing short of a gift.”
—Matthew Paul Turner, author of Churched and Hear No Evil
“In this highly anticipated manifesto, Michael Spencer wrote for a generation that is struggling to figure out what it means to live out Jesus-shaped spirituality. Michael was familiar with the burdens of the dominating religious, political, and cultural norms that suffocate our everyday existence. Mere Churchianity delivers, and its message will live on through people who can’t help but be changed by it.”
—Andrew Marin, author of Love Is an Orientation, president of The Marin Foundation
“As someone who has been writing for years on the supremacy of Jesus Christ and its relationship to his church, I found the Christ-centeredness of this book to be profoundly refreshing. We have lost a choice servant of God in Michael, but heaven is the richer. I’m thankful that he left us this excellent contribution.”
—Frank Viola, author of Jesus Manifesto, Reimagining Church, and Finding Organic Church
“You will look far and wide before you find another Christian who speaks with as much honesty, insight, and foresight as Michael Spencer. I am very careful about the Christian books I recommend, but this one definitely makes the list. I am excited to have a book I can give my non-Christian friends that accurately portrays Jesus.”
—Jim Henderson, author of Evangelism without Additives, Jim and Casper Go to Church, and The Outsider Interviews
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Top Customer Reviews
While some time is spent calling out the problems with institutional Christianity, especially his own American Evangelicalism, that is far from the focus of the book. Nor does Michael hold himself out as some kind of guru making empty promises. Instead, he calls all to stop looking to the circuses and power plays used to guide or coerce people into loyalty to man-made institutions, and points them to Jesus. Mere Churchianity expands what Michael Spencer meant when he said, "If you are going to think about God, go to Jesus and start there, stay there and end there."
Though Michael died in April 2010, his first and only book serves to share the message he was getting at through ten years of writing at [...]. I recommend it without reservation to anyone who has even a passing interest in Jesus or Christianity.
What a wonderful gift to us, this book, such a pleasure to read more of his writings.
How very well he understood the conflicted emotions of millions of present-day Christians. He gets it! He understands why so many of us find it difficult to remain in churches where Jesus is treated as little more than a commodity to buy and sell.
How honest, how open, how refreshing the words as I turned each page.
How much I miss Michael, even though we never met.
How well he speaks to my own struggles. It was as though he wrote this book just for me. (I suspect many readers will feel the same way.)
With his honest, easygoing style, it was as though we were just talking, sharing a glass of tea on the porch or sitting at a ballgame. Him, telling his stories, understanding my struggles. And then there were lines that made me laugh aloud!
Through all his writings, on his blog and in this book, Michael always encouraged a life shaped by Jesus, as opposed to shaped by the church. The phrase he often used was "Jesus Shaped Spirituality." This is about discipleship to Jesus, as apposed to discipleship to a church. This is about living honestly as Christians.
Who should read this book?
This book needs to be read by all who have felt conflicted, rejected, neglected, abused, misused, confused by the church. Those who have felt isolated and alone in a congregation full of smiles. Those who have left or are leaving, or who are unsure why they are staying. Those who need Jesus, not church, at the center of their lives.Read more ›
The book is broken into four parts: The Jesus Disconnect, the Jesus Briefing, The Jesus Life, and The Jesus Community. The first part discusses how the church has left Jesus, and so as a result people have left the church. Spencer takes to task the mega-churches and celebrity pastors who - even if they don't preach a health and wealth prosperity gospel - live out the principles of American consumerism even over the principles of Christ. Spencer also satirizes the traditions of denominationalism, asking how we can be a united body of Christ if we can't even identify ourselves uniformly (and that's just in the first chapter of this part).
The second part continues Spencer's honest and frank insights. He urges us to remove Jesus from our modern culture and get to Jesus without the gaudy baggage of western Christianity. Part 3 lambasts Christians who talk the talk but don't walk the walk when it comes to living a "victorious life" in Christ. The chapter When I Am Weak is sure to be as controversial as it is powerful, as Spencer reminds us that - quoting Hermann Sasse, who was in turn paraphrasing Martin Luther - "Christ dwells only in sinners.Read more ›
Michael has such a passion for Jesus-shaped spirituality and I hope he inspires millions with his wonderful writing. There are so many great quotations I would want to share, but I will just use this one from page 203: "If you read the Bible, you know that Jesus-shaped spirituality lives in both worlds--the spiritual and the physical. Or to look at it a different way, the world is spiritual, even the physical realm. God is everywhere. When Jesus lived on earth, he blessed ordinary places with his presence. It's holy to help people with their very real, ordinary, tangible needs."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful book. It is sad that Michael is not here to know how much this book has impacted others. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Debbie J Huff
While the beginning of the book was great it was very tough for me to finish this book. The content seemed to lack any real challenge or call.Published 16 months ago by Shawn
In a nutshell, Spencer makes a powerful and winsome case that being a Christian is about becoming like Christ and not doing so by living up to the expectations and boundary markers... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Lloyd R Thompson
This is a great read for anyone who is thinking about leaving or has left church. While it does not offer a host of answers, the book forces you to think about some critical... Read morePublished on April 10, 2014 by Messy MakeUp Drawer
Michael Spencer has written what many of us have waited for since first learning about God. The entire book is a journey towards understanding that each person must find a true and... Read morePublished on March 6, 2014 by Dan W. Stockton
The late Michael Spencer tells it like it is. His critique of "churchianity" is worth reading whether one agrees with it or not.Published on December 1, 2013 by frdan44
An amazing book written with such honesty and openness.... Such passion for the REAL Jesus life.... The love of people.....ALL people.... Not just those WE think are deserving..... Read morePublished on November 21, 2013 by Karen
I gave this book 4 stars because I ordered it just before one of my children changed churches. My child felt judged, criticized and wanted the leave in the existing church. Read morePublished on October 17, 2013 by Robert Northington
"Mere Churchianity" is about people leaving the church to find a Jesus-Shaped spirituality. Spencer admits the word "spirituality" carries a lot of baggage that is contrary to his... Read morePublished on September 28, 2013 by Granddaddy