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Pure Scum: The Left-Out, the Right-Brained, and the Grace of God
IVP Books / 2010 / Paperback
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An exhilarating faith life is a tricky business. But ask anyone who's sought after it--from the founders and members of Scum of the Earth Church in Denver to the apostle Paul, from whose letters the church took its name--and they'll tell you it's worth it.
In Pure Scum Mike Sares, pastor of Scum of the Earth, takes us along a faith journey, telling the story of how a pretty normal, middle-aged guy met and became friends with Reese Roper and other members of the band, Five Iron Frenzy, and got hoodwinked by FIF and the Holy Spirit into pastoring of a vibrant church full of skater punks.
For anyone--pastor, church leader or plain old Christian--who wants to share the amazing grace of God with the "left-out" and "the right-brained," Mike's story will show you what this kind of exhilaration looks like, and more importantly, what it costs. It's a tricky business, but it's worth every step and misstep.
An exhilarating faith life is a tricky business. But ask anyone who's sought after it--from the founders and members of Scum of the Earth Church in Denver to the apostle Paul, from whose letters the church took its name--and they'll tell you it's worth it. In Pure Scum Mike Sares, pastor of Scum of the Earth, takes us along a faith journey, telling the story of how a pretty normal, middle-aged guy met and became friends with Reese Roper and other members of the band, Five Iron Frenzy, and got hoodwinked by FIF and the Holy Spirit into pastoring of a vibrant church full of artists and skater punks. For anyone--pastor, church leader or plain old Christian--who wants to share the amazing grace of God with the "left-out" and "the right-brained," Mike's story will show you what this kind of exhilaration looks like, and more importantly, what it costs. It's a tricky business, but it's worth every step and misstep.
When the band Five Iron Frenzy started a Bible study, little did they know it would morph into a unique church led by pastor Mike Sares. Before he was hoodwinked by the Holy Spirit into working at Scum, Sares served in many roles, including young adult and singles pastor, advertising account executive, salesman, steelworker and high school English teacher. He's been pursuing an M.Div. from Denver Seminary for over a decade now. Sares' denominationally varied pedigree began with growing up Greek Orthodox (very Greek Orthodox). When his dad remarried he began attending a Presbyterian church every other week and came to Christ through the para-church organization Young Life. He spent eight years in a charismatic church, sent his children into a Lutheran School for a time, was on staff at a Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). He's ordained in a small fellowship of churches called The Alliance for Renewal Churches, headquartered in Mansfield Ohio. Sares brings his eclectic experience to bear as the senior pastor of an eclectic congregation of artists, punks, skaters, ravers, homeless people and other outcasts at Scum of the Earth Church in Denver, Colorado. To find out more, check out their website at scumoftheearth.net.
"Mike Sares has written a book with a huge heart and a deep soul. Harrowing at times, brutally honest, filled with love for the people and neighborhood he pastors, Pure Scum is Mike's exploration of his journey following Christ--into places few people would willingly go. That Mike goes there joyfully (and painfully) is an amazing thing to behold. That we get to follow along behind him as he does is an opportunity that should not be missed."
"My friend Mike Sares boldly colors outside the lines of creativity, innovation and necessity, challenging all of us to reconsider what the church looks like and what it's meant to be. After all, what other church in America dubs their smokers the greeting team? Pure Scum is a story of radical grace--one we all need to experience and embrace."
" Pure Scum is not simply a biography, not simply a glimpse of modern church history; in chapter after chapter Mike Sares tells bits of his own story to reveal how God used every step of his journey to shape him into the pastor of a church called Scum of the Earth. With incredible humility, Mike neither hides nor flaunts his failings but constantly points to the grace of God, a trait truly characteristic of his life as a pastor. The stories of the people he's pastored are both heartbreaking and life-giving, a testimony always to God's work amongst the least and the lost, the beautiful and the painful that make up the congregation of Scum. All in all, this book is a testimony to the pastor that Mike is, the unusual church that Scum is and, more than anything, the work that God can do when his people let go and listen."
"Reading Pure Scum inspired me to love more when it's not convenient or easy, to embrace the risk-taking that inherently comes with following Jesus. What a messy, beautiful, hard-knocks and sovereign story of how God continues to use crews of misfits to share who he is with the world."
"Mike Sares and his friends at Scum of the Earth Church have been on the ride of their lives--and thanks to Pure Scum we get to ride shot-gun! Come for the stories, stay for the theological, pastoral and leadership insights."
"Stunning! Søren Kierkegaard writes: 'My complaint is not that this age is wicked but that it is paltry. It lacks passion.' Scum has the passion that we lack in the church. Nehemiah 11 records the request to go back to the city. Scum never left; we did. It is time to go back, and this book leads the way."
"Sares tells the unlikely story, of an unlikely pastor, leading an unlikely church, with an unlikely name. But the evidence of God's grace fills every chapter, and it is sure to inspire many who long to see Christ in the unlikely corners of our world."
"Mike Sares has done more than write an inspiring book: he has lived an inspiring life. Bravo to Sares and Scum of the Earth Church for daring to love the goths, the punks, the skaters, the rag-taggers who resemble Jesus' posse far better than the scrubbed-up, respectable façades we parade on Sundays. Sares offers wise counsel and a biblical foundation along with these moving stories. This is a must-read for anyone who dreams of reaching the fringes, the right-brained and the left-out with God's amazing grace."
"Truly a moving portrait of the Father's love in our present time. A love for the undesirable and down-trodden of this world, sheep and shepherds alike. Mike has followed our Good Shepherd's example and by his grace feeds his flock with sincere love and humility."
"This is not a book! Rather Pure Scum is a conversation about Jesus and his church that most of us need to have over a bottomless Sumatra. Like all stories of Christian living on the edge, this one is funny and sad, inspiring and disagreeable), and appealing and revolting . Always interesting and always biblical, you will have coffee with Mike again and again as you realize, 'Shifting to follow Jesus in a new direction is not always greeted with applause.'"
"Mike Sares is a hero to me as I have watched his missional heart over many years and his dedication to Jesus and the gospel. Reading the pages of Pure Scum is like reading a continuing chapter in the book of Acts. It is an adventurous, risk-taking, inspiring, unusual, mission-focused story about people who are passionate about those who are often missed by the average church. You will be encouraged and thrilled through these pages and your heart will grow in love for those whom Jesus loves."
"Great explorers don't observe from the safety of the ship; they grab a skiff, go on shore, meet the natives, take measurements and make a map. In Pure Scum Mike provides a map for us with rich details about what life looks like in the land of humility, honesty and brokenness. He introduces us to the King of that land--the Lord Jesus--and makes us want to move there permanently, even though it lacks many conveniences of the place we call home. Also, Mike's chapter on love is worth the price of the whole book. Oh, and one more thing: unlike most books that tell you everything they know in the first three chapters and then fill in the rest with meaningless stuff, Mike's book just gets better and better as you close in on the end. You might actually think about starting with the final chapter and reading your way back to the front."
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