- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: WaterBrook; 1 edition (June 15, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307459179
- ISBN-13: 978-0307459176
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 128 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,178,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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
Spencer, who blogged as the Internet Monk until his untimely death earlier this year, offers a harsh assessment of institutional Christianity-"churchianity." He speaks to the millions who, according to surveys, have changed religions or left them altogether. He takes special aim at evangelical megachurches and prosperity gospel preachers, though he also doesn't spare those who link Jesus to the flag or sociopolitical causes. None of this, he insists, has anything to do with Jesus, who was Jewish (not American), hung out with people others rejected, and made disciples instead of buildings. He advocates "Jesus-shaped spirituality," which can be found in service and scripture and, most important, won't necessarily make you smile, because it can be hard to practice. Like so many critics of the current state of institutional Christianity, Spencer is a lot better at describing the problem than solving it; his indictment gets a little repetitious at times. But his tone is folksy and passionate without ranting. The book is his last word, and stands as the sincere testament of a Christian humble enough to admit and even embrace his flaws.
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“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
This book is hard to read because the first seven chapters are written from the perspective of the person who is disillusioned by the church and religion. It can leave the reader cynical.
"Mere Churchianity is written for people who have come to the end of the road with the church but who can't walk away from Jesus."
"Thousands of Christians feel more comfortable in the nonreligious and non-Christian relationships in their lives than in Christian relationships. I know Christians who have discovered that everything from bars to bowling leagues to AA meetings generate more genuine friendships and unconditional acceptance than many of their experiences of Christian fellowship."
The turn around is when the author, who was raised in the church, did not have an encounter with Jesus until he was in his senior year in a Bible college. The middle section of the book is about the author's discovery of who Jesus is and how He wants a relationship and not a religion.
The last part of the book is about the role of the church with respect to one's relationship with the Lord.
"Life as a Jesus-follower grout out of Jesus and the gospel, not out of our church. The church is a resource for spiritual development and can be a sign of what God wants to do on earth. But the church, because it is neither Christ nor His kingdom, is never the ultimate source of a person's life with God.
The book was very helpful for me but I gave it 4 stars because there is a slightly cynical undercurrent in it.
I have now encountered several opinions about the exodus of people from the church.
1.) People are not really leaving the church, or at least the numbers leaving are greatly exaggerated.
2.) People are leaving the church because they are not prepared to give a reason for the hope that's within them so they need to study apologetics.
3.) People are leaving because they are drawn out of the church by the toxic environment outside.
4.) People are leaving because they are driven out of the church by the toxic environment inside.
5.) People are leaving because Jesus is leading them out of the church to maintain their integrity and return them to his teachings.
That 5th opinion is Spencer's. He describes a broad range of non-Biblical church practices points out that Jesus was not a defender of institutionalized religion.
Spencer's view is at least optimistic and forward looking, despite his 2009 article in "The Christian Science Monitor". There he described "The coming evangelical collapse," but he expected that a new Christian vitality and integrity will arise as Western history moves into an anti-Christian period.
Some have presented a less-than hopeful view of post-Christian, western civilization. David Bentley Hart in "Atheist Delusions" wonders what happens when the Christian foundations are pulled out from under western civilization and men are left to founder in the intellectual and moral habits of materialism. Similarly, Alasdair MacIntyre in "After Virtue" wonders about the future of civilization when moral behavior is based on nothing more than the fashions of the day and the state's view of an individual's utility at any particular moment.
"Mere Churchianity is breezy reading with lots of stories and anecdotes to speed the reader on his way. Perhaps it lacks depth, but certainly it will stimulate deeper thinking, at least among those who think more deeply.
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."