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Spencer discovered the truth that church officials often miss, which is that many who leave the church do so in an attempt to find Jesus. For years on his blog Spencer showed de-churched readers how to practice their faith without the distractions of religious institutions. Sadly, he died in 2010. But now that his last message is available in Mere Churchianity, you can benefit from the biblical wisdom and compassionate teaching that always have been hallmarks of his ministry.
With Mere Churchianity, Spencer's writing will continue to point the disenchanted and dispossessed to a Jesus-shaped spirituality. And along the way, his teachings show how you can find others who will go with you on the journey.
|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Publication Date: 2010
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 followerscall 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, Spencers book offers a timely and difficult reimagining of what living as a person of faith really means.
journalist, columnist for the Chicago Tribune
Mere Churchianity expresses a brilliant empathy for those who are disillusioned withand distant fromwhat evangelicalism has become. At the same time, Michaels 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 Spencers 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.
Author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People
Every Christian, regardless if theyre 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 Ive 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 cant help but be changed by it.
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. Im thankful that he left us this excellent contribution.
Author of A 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.
Author of Evangelism without Additives, Jim and Casper Go to Church, and The Outsider Interviews
In a series of essays covering various topics of the Christian life, Spencer outlines what he believes Scripture teaches and then makes applications based on those conclusions. His style is masterful, his knowledge is far-reaching, and his conclusions are pointed and challenging. The disconnect between the business-oriented church and the biblically-oriented church is very quickly and clearly seen.
But Spencer does not throw out the baby (church) with the bathwater (churchianity). He merely points out where disconnects occur, shows how they occur, suggests ways to reconnect and allows the reader to make their own conclusions. Some of his statements seem to be harsh or hyperbolic, such as "developing a Christianity Jesus would recognize" (Chapter 4's title) but he develops those thoughts very precisely so that what once draw you with thoughts of disagreeing leaves you nodding your head in approval saying "he's right on topic there.'
Far from being a diatribe against the church or organized religion, Mere Churchianity seeks to invite believers and non-believers into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ that allows Him to define the parameters, rather than looking to traditions or men's teachings to do so.
Granted, not everything espoused in the book rings as clearly as Spencer would have you believe. There are some places where the suggestion is made that perhaps leaving an organized church is the most spiritual decision one can make. The casual reader might see this as permission to abandon church and worship in a style of his own choosing; but that is not Spencer's point. This is a book that calls for a careful reading!
A sequel to this book would be great seeing how these ideas are continuing to transform and develop in the lives of those introduced in this book. However, that sequel will not occur. Michael Spencer graduated to glory prior to the release of this book. It is my opinion that his gain of glory in heaven left us with the loss of a great communicator and thinker. I would recommend this book to those seeking to discover what it means to follow Christ in a 21st century mindset. Pastor Charles Eldred, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Pastor JBBrooklin Ontario CanadaAge: 45-54Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Bought 20 CopiesJanuary 16, 2014Pastor JBBrooklin Ontario CanadaAge: 45-54Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5I'm an avid reader ( occupational hazzard) had just started becoming a listener to Michaels podcasts and peruse-er of his vast blogging trail. I knew he had been wrting a book then lost track of it after his passing. Stumbled upon it here, bought a copy and after reading the third chapter ordered 19 more. I have bought the odd additional copy of books I thought people needed to read I have never bought 20. That is my endorsement.
I'm going back to making sure that pecans remain the main ingredient in all my pecan pies.
Pastor From Brooklin Ontario Canada.
Philip TuttSacramento, CAAge: Over 65Gender: male3 Stars Out Of 5For Disaffected Evangelicals (And Others?)September 1, 2013Philip TuttSacramento, CAAge: Over 65Gender: maleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 2This book, written by an ordained minister who also blogged extensively on the Internet, under the handle "The Internet Monk", is directed mostly at disaffected evangelicals who have either decided to leave their churches, or who are considering it, or who have already left. He presupposes that their motive is to seek a more authentic Jesus than the razzle-dazzle "Jesus" of megachurches and their imitators, which hawk what he calls "churchianity", as opposed to (authentic) Christianity. Much of the book reads like a rant against the type of carnival and cotton-candy atmosphere which, for the sake of attracting congregants and financial support, often goes proxy for the substantive experience of Jesus. This, however, is more to the author's style than lack of message, and should not put off the reader. Not being an evangelical, I found that the book does not really take flight until the section titled: "Not Leaving, But Being Sent", in Chapter 13 ("Leaving Behind the Church-Shaped Life"). After that, it becomes a fairly compelling presentation of what seekers after the Way of Jesus may expect in their quest, along with a bit of practical advice about how not to get lost along the path. Restless Jesus-seekers in the more traditional mainline denominations will also find food for thought, although the author's suggestions are not likely to meet with much approval there, either. If you are one of these souls, the book may be of some value to you. If not, consider reading it anyway, at least once. You may find out why some of your friends and fellows have left or are about to leave your congregation, even if you decide to stay. In any case, take heart in the fundamental message of the book: if you truly seek Jesus, he will find you.
JenniferBCanadaAge: 35-44Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5A Kindred SpiritJuly 22, 2011JenniferBCanadaAge: 35-44Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Although I wasn't introduced to the writings of Michael Spencer until after his death in 2010, I have found in his writings a kindred spirit of sorts. While many other writers in evangelical Christianity are decrying the exodus of believers (often pegged as non-believers) from institutional church organizations.
It seems nearly unconceivable to such writers that believers who desire to walk with Jesus more than anything else might be sitting out the institutional experience of fellowship in search for something different. But it is happening - often. I feel like I'm Ã¢â¬Ëcoming out of the closet' a bit on this one, but yes - for a number of reasons our family is currently what is called Ã¢â¬Ëunchurched' in today's terminology.
Michael Spencer got that. He understood the sense of discontent that church leavers have - even when they are pursuing (as he calls it) a Jesus-shaped spirituality. He understood how this is an awkward place, but he also understood how believers can honestly and authentically feel that in order to be true to where Jesus has them in their walk that they need to be apart from the Ã¢â¬Ëchurchy-church' as I call it (in an attempt to distinguish between the universal body of believers and what takes place in buildings with the word Ã¢â¬Ëchurch Ã¢â¬Ëon the front of them.
Though it reads as a somewhat disconnected set of thoughts, examinations, insights, and advice, Mere Churchianity speaks to the hearts of believers who find themselves in my position, or who think they may soon find themselves there. In part one "The Jesus Disconnect" Spencer first sets out to examine what is going wrong with the churchy-church and why people are leaving. He then goes on to examine what Jesus is really about in part two - "The Jesus Briefing" in which he also presents a very reformation-friendly gospel.
Part three - "The Jesus Life" is my favorite part of the book hands-down. Spencer very honestly and very realistically looks at what being a Christian is about. Not only does he look at how being part of the church can play out outside of the typical churchy-church walls, but he also gets gritty and real about the Christian life, how Christians continue to fail and how our only, and absolute hope is found in Jesus righteousness and not our own. This was really worth the entry price alone in my opinion. I cried. It was really that good.
Part four goes on to further, and more specifically examine some ways in which following the Jesus-shaped life can work itself out. Spencer focuses on service, relationships, putting feet on the gospel, and other ways as well. He is careful to leave the option of returning to a more formal church setting open, but he certainly isn't giving it a hard sell. He really gets people who have left the churchy-church and you can tell. There are no one-liners here or any pat answers. I love his understanding and empathetic heart, he's really been listening and walked some of this road himself as well.
Reading Mere Churchianity is like having a one-on-one talk or a series of ongoing mentoring relationships with a friend who really listens. If you have left, or are thinking of leaving the Ã¢â¬Ëchurchy-church' for spiritual reasons (not because you are trying to avoid Christ-centered teachings or church discipline), then you'll find a friend in Michael Spencer.
Ben WoodySiloam Springs, ARAge: 55-65Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5Church: what it takes to be a good ChristianJune 22, 2011Ben WoodySiloam Springs, ARAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Michael Spencer speaks to those Chrisitans who have attended church and found there is something missing. Many churches tell us what it takes to be a good Christian, but Christians who want more of Jesus find something missing. Spencer says "The assumption is that even if we fully understood the "Jesus way of life," we could never live that way. The result is that Christians live on easy autopilot, where the standard shifts from living like Jesus to "being a good Christians"."
In Chapter 13, "Leaving Behind the Church-Shaped Life", Spencer speaks to the church-shaped discipleship in contrast to the Jesus-shaped discipleship, as well as other areas of church life. Jesus-shaped discipleship did not consist of one hour discipleship classes or learning discipleship principles. That would lead us to ask the question "how do we make discipleship Jesus-shaped?"
I find that there are many areas that I can agree with the author. There are many that have made me stop and look at how the traditions of the church and denominations have not lined up with Scripture and have caused those who are hungry for a "real Jesus-shaped life to move away from the church. I find it hard to agree with moving away from the established church because it doesn't match up. Those who hunger for the Jesus-shaped life should help steer the church back on course. Abandonment is not the answer. Christ has not abandoned his church.
Overall, "Mere Churchianity" will make you think, observe, and decide which side of the road you are walking and maybe help you to solidify your belief about Christ's plan and purpose for his church and for those who would be his disciples.
mojoTexasAge: 35-44Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Mere ChurcnianityMarch 19, 2011mojoTexasAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Can I start a book review with the word "Wow?" Two pages into this book I had to go and grab a pen, because I could tell it was going to be that kind of book. Half of me feels I could just forgo a typical review and just post Michael Spencer's most gripping phrases.
Author Michael Spencer (the Internet Monk) had worked in ministry most of his life as both a youth pastor and a senior pastor. Michael enjoyed preaching, but the rest of the pastorate wasn't his game, so he soon figured out that God had something else in store. Michael started his blog, The Internet Monk right after the November 2000 elections, and blogged regularly thereafter. The Internet Monk is consistently rated in the "top twenty Christian blogs" in the world.
In 2008 Michael was awarded a sabbatical grant from the Louisville Institute to pursue his interest in "Contemplation and Balance in Life and Ministry." He was a seminar presenter and panel moderator at Cornerstone '08 and '09. He wasregular guest at Steve Brown, Etc. and appeared on The Frank Pastore Show and The Catholic Guy Radio program. Michael was interviewed on numerous radio programs and magazines.
Michael's book, Mere Churchianity, was published by Random House/Waterbrook on June 15, 2010. Michael Spencer died on April 5, 2010 after a battle with cancer. His dream was to move to a little church near a pub with a minor league ballpark nearby, work with university students and cook Italian food for the mob. (ha ha)
Michael Spencer might tell you that his book is for those who are burnt out on church - and to be honest, I have read a lot of "those kinds of books" and there are very few I have liked or could recommend. But Michael's book goes beyond complaining or finger wagging and he actually offers answers and practical advice. Here is a little taste of Michael's journey_
"I can not support the organized religion option that is more concerned about statistics and size and image than it is about Jesus." (p.65)
"Jesus asignment to the apostles was not to get people to respond to the altar call, but to make disciples of all nations." (p.99)
"The exhausting effort to be a good Christian, denies Christ." (p.138)
"You will learn the most about (Jesus) when you are standing on life's diving board and he's telling you to jump into the water that you've always avoided." (p.84)
But this book is not limited to those who may feel disgruntled by organized religion, I think it's a challenge to any Christian disciple to try and transform their church into an agent of change. Michael asks us all to answer the question, what does it mean to follow Christ - and how does that journey translate itself into the body of the church? Can it really be boiled down to hymnals, baptism and potlucks? Or is there something more?
My copy of Michael's book is heavily marked with the words that really touched my heart - often times I would have to stop reading and twitter a quote, or read a huge section out loud to my wife. I know that this will be a book I often refer back to and I am grateful for Michael's life and what he has given the Christian community.