A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Tyler Edwards employs an entertaining metaphor to deliver the medicine we need. God is the Medicine to restore life. Edwards draws out Luke 10:27 as the prescription label.
"There are zombie churches among us," Edwards says. Genuine life has been lost and in its place is something...scary, lifeless. On the outside everything appears normal. People smile. People are personable. But you sense something is missing.
Some say it is so bad we should give up hope for the organized church. Edwards admits the church has flaws and gets things wrong. But, he says, "The church was instituted by God and He has a plan for her."
At the core of the church's problem, Edwards says, are Christians who are not living what they say they believe. He has written this book "to address the problem, reveal its significance, and illuminate the path to healing this condition..." His "goal is to identify what is missing and look at possible ways to fix it so that the church can become what it was created by God to be."
Zombies don't produce anything. They just wander aimlessly, consuming everything in their path. "When a church exists without purpose, it slowly turns into a Zombie church." But God is gracious and willing to breath the life of the Spirit back into Zombis churches.
The church used to make demands of people but now there is a fear of turning someone away. No commitment is required. We should expect Christians to live out their faith. We should expect commitment. We should avoid the "dead weight" Christians who don't. "Basically, the undead contaminate the living." (51) We must maintain a relationship for the purpose of restoration.
Belief dictates our actions. If we don't act, it's because we don't really believe. "If we don't live for God, then the truth is we don't really believe in God." (54) We need to be motivated by love.
Edwards gives the symptoms of a zombie church. He describes the heart problem, apathy.
There is a simple cure: do something. Zombies are not intelligent - their brains are rotten and useless. (121) Edwards reminds us we are to love God with all our minds. Read Bible passages because you want to, because you want to know God better. He uses the parable of the talents to shock us out of our complacency. Why aren't we using our "talents"? "We don't really believe the master is coming back. It's that simple." (143)
We are to evangelize. Sometimes we make it too hard. "Evangelism is simple: tell others what you know and let them decide what to do with it." (146) Don't try to do God's work in your own human effort. Learn to utilize the awesome creative power of God.
Edwards suggests, "I think that God is bored. I think that God is bored with the petty faith of our American churches. When was the last time we did something that would require God to act?" (151) "What if we had a vision so big that only God could get credit for it if we pulled it off?" (152)
Edwards observes that the exodus from traditional churches is happening for a reason. "[People] are weary of showing up at the doors of the church looking for answers and leaving with a sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction." (166) He reminds us of the importance of being in a community - church. "The church cannot really be the church until we engage in community with each other and invest in the world around us." (173)
Surviving a zombie church, "...realizing what's going on and doing something before it's too late is key." (178) Ultimately, it is up to us. "We are not responsible for others. We are responsible for ourselves. So don't worry about what everyone else is doing: get your part right. My final appeal to you," Edwards writes, "is this: love." (210)
"All it takes is one: one person who sets Jesus as their focus. One person dedicated totally to Him. One person willing to follow Jesus whatever the cost. One person who has life. The life of one can give life to many." (120)
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
This book was incredibly true tho he used an incredibly false topic. I am not fascinated with Zombie movies like author and Pastor Tyler Edwards. But I was fascinated with the relation he made between them and those who are not quite alive in our pews on Sunday mornings.
Many books have touched on the fact that are churches are not perfect and have highlighted the problems that we have in the church body; however, very few have chosen to offer a solution, or in this case a cure for this disease called Zombiism.
Whether you are a pastor, church staff, leader, member, or frequent attender I recommend that you take a moment to read this book. You will want to make sure you know the symptoms so that you can diagnose this disease early on for the longer it lives within your congregation the more people it could infect.
Covered with post it notes, filled with highlighted passages and lovingly dog-eared, "Zombie Church:Breathing Life Back into the Body of Christ", turned out to be an in depth, fascinating reading, that is written by a pastor himself, Tyler Edwards, who explores how the church is dying, just going through the motions and how we, the church body, can breathe new life into a "Zombie Church".
Off hand, the title may seem misleading and even questionable, but reading the book,this is a rich, scriptural filled look into how churches today are losing track from their Acts counterparts.
Filled with provocative anecdotes that anyone whose experienced a cold church can relate to, "Zombie Church" isn't a judgmental writing, or even cynical look at Christians and the church, but instead, an eye opening, heartfelt look at how the church of the 21st century is losing its way.
From sharing about a church that whittle down to nine members that didn't seem to really care about their church, other than the fact that it was a church that they had always gone to, to churches that you and I have no doubt experienced at some point or time, "Zombie Church" will open the eyes of the state of churches today.
In an example that is shared,Tyler Edwards writes,<i>"When a church stops making a difference in its community, then it's probably drifting away from the Holy Spirit".</i>
He writes earlier in the book,<i>"When the church neglects the commission of Jesus-stops ministering to the poor and the hurting and stops sharing the love of God with others-then it stops living. It just exists and keeps on existing. Undead. How can a church offer the eternal life of God if it does not have life in its midst".</i>
This is such an eye opening, humbling book to read and yet its not ugly or being condescending; It presents a radical but entertaining and also strives to share what is missing in today's churches and how in the process, the church may not so much as dying, but neither is it living either.
Throughout the book, I found myself, post it notes in hand and a highlighter, marking spots to re-read or to share and even quote from and other's to highlight to go back, mull over some more and reflect at the honesty that Tyler Edwards is sharing from not only just a pastor's perspective, but a follower of Christ, perspective on, what seems to be an unspoken issue with the church.
Its not an easy thing to discuss about, but it is something that we need to talk about and Tyler Edwards does in an eye catching way that definitely does what it intends....draw attention, creates discussion, and causes the reader, to go...what does zombies have to do with church, only to discover, in often humbling way, what "Zombie Church" seeks to convey to the reader.
It's honest, its thought provoking, it tongue in the cheek, commends a second look, its blunt where it needs to be blunt, but in a refreshing loving way that needs to be addressed and not pushed under the rug, "Zombie Church" just revitalizes how we view not just going to church, but how we can be more living, active members of the church body and from within reach out to the community as well.
I truly enjoy reading this book and felt that Tyler Edwards, wonderfully addressed even the issues that many of us may have at one time or another, but was too afraid or intimidated to share with others such as the part about having those days , where we wake up on a Sunday morning and just wanted to stay home.
Don't get the statement wrong, "Zombie Church" isn't discouraging going to church, but it is asking and hitting in both wit and keen observation, why do so many churches seem to have trouble either growing, keeping their members or having that often huge disconnect with their local communities.
I love hearing from a pastor say so honestly, <i>"There are Zombie churches, and many of us have been burned by them."</i> Sadly that is true for many, who find themselves going to church, craving, wanting that relationship with Christ, but in the words of Brennan Manning of Newsboys,<i>"The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable"</i>
For those who are truly wanting to know and grow and have a mature, loving relationships, its often not Christ himself, but those around them, that makes it difficult to find that much needed fellowship and with,"Zombie Church", many of the weaknesses and symptoms of a "Zombie Church" is both explored along with biblical based cures to dealing with a,"Zombie Church".
As Tyler Edwards shared,wisely,<i>"But that's not an acceptable reason to walk away from the church altogether. To do so is to disobey the word of God."</i> as outlined in John 14:15,24).
Instead, you will find the symptoms, but also strong encouragement of not only how to find a living church filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit, but also tips of discouraging a "Zombie Church".
We are reminded that neglecting church, we risk falling into the sins of our past, and not growing ourselves, but becoming members of the, "Living Dead" ourselves, and a wise observation that stopping church, leads not to growth, but a slide into sin.
So, the solution?
Awaken the slumbering church.
....and well...you have to read the book, yourself to find out more how that is done, but reading, "Zombie Church:Breathing Life Back into the Body of Christ", the reader will find out that there is always hope and it is so well worth it that I would recommend it to the people who were burnt by church, those who find themselves faced with a "Zombie Church" and this is a great book to help not only encourage but keep in minds ways to avoid becoming a "Zombie Church".
It's worth the time and I so recommend keeping some post it notes and a highlighter, and maybe a pen on hand....you'll find yourself nodding in agreement, finding a little bit of yourself or maybe a personal experience that you can relate to in, "Zombie Church", but more than anything, a reminder to us all...what we, as a body and as members and as brothers and sisters, need to remember, to avoid and to discourage in the church.
What is a zombie church? According to Tyler Edwards it is a church that appears to be alive, but is really spiritually dead. It's a church that goes through the motions of what church is expected to be like, but the heart is gone. What causes a church to become a zombie church? Christ is no longer the center and focus of the church. They may speak of Jesus and even teach about Him, but they don't try to live like Him. Instead, the zombie church focuses on rituals, events, study groups, etc. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but when they replace Jesus as the focus of the church you are left with a zombie church.
Zombie Church is Tyler Edwards' first book, and he's done a good job. This is going to be a tough read for a lot of people. It's going to push a lot of people out of their comfort zones, but it's an important message. Edwards has a love for cheesy zombie movies, and he makes many comparisons between the mindless zombies in these movies and the American church of today. He reminds us that as followers of Jesus we are to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). The book can be a bit repetitive at times as Edwards drives his point home, but the last two chapters are worth reading the entire book. Those last two chapters focus on living a life of love as Jesus did. It's a lesson we all need.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from LitFuse for review purposes.