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Posted March 19, 2011
Can 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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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.
Posted March 1, 2011
Churchianity or Christianity
Ever wonder why Christians don't have power to change, could it be that they have too much Churchianity and not enough Christianity. This book won't be popular with Pastors and or church leaders whom churches stake a lot into their programs, size, and church life. The author Michael Spencer says that Churchianity, the height of the status quo religion is a far cry from Jesus -shaped spirituality. True faith that transforms, is revolutionary, and life changing isn't in a quest for a bigger church, a moral society, traditional families, nor a more detailed doctrinal statement. Jesus concern and His whole ministry emphasis was 0n a one on one basis.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most of Michael Spencer's ( The Internet Monk) statements won't be swallowed well by many Pastors and other church leaders. Here are some examples:
* The constant emphasis on a victorious life or the good Christian life is the Antichrist as it pertains to the Gospel
*For for too long Christians have been presenting the Gospel as a solution to trouble, when in fact it's
a life long battle aganist one's own sin.
* The exhausting effort to be a good Christian denies Christ.
* Christianity has an adjective problem, which gives a false representation of Christianity & Christ.
* Much of what passes for proclaiming Christ, is in actually, churches concern with attracting large
numbers on Sunday, directing financial resources toward church budgets and showing Christians
how to get in synch with church activities.
If you are happy and content with Churchianity then you will hate this book, but if you are the type that says there has to be more to being a Christian then want you experienced you will love this book. The author's audience is for those Christians who have left or are thinking about leaving the church. I received this book from Water Brook Multnomah publishing for the review of this book.
Posted February 24, 2011
I will admit that I chose this book to review based on the title alone. It sounded strangely familiar. Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to a Jesus-Shaped Spirituality by Michael Spencer is a book written to challenge believers to allow Jesus Christ to shape and form their spiritual formation and mindset. Spender is better around the blogospehere as the Internet Monk, where he has been blogging since 2000. I found myself agreeing entirely with him at times and disagreeing passionately at others. These reactions to his book were the same reactions I had in reading his blog for several years. Spencer's style of writing is passionate, whimsical, thoughtful, engaging, and provocative. Spencer's audience for this book is those who have left the church or are considering leaving. He challenges them not give up on Jesus Christ. He asks these who are on the fence to not judge Jesus on the often times hypocritical and judgmental actions of the "church" that are not accurate reflections of the life of the Son of God. Spencer asserts that the church today is guilty of turning Jesus into some sort of genie-in-a-bottle, culture-warrior, political activist, and relationship guru that is here to wait on us hand and foot. As churches turn Jesus into their ideal, who they want and need him to be, those looking for a spirituality that is shaped and formed by the Jesus of the gospels, they abandon the church and seek Jesus elsewhere. There were some things I liked about this book and some things I did not. I liked the fact that Spencer brought the concern and reality to the forefront. The reality, whether we want to realize or not that the church gets in the way sometimes of people seeing Christ. Spencer challenges believers to get back to the main point of the gospel: Jesus Christ. Allow His life and earthly ministry to challenge us and shape us. Allow His teaching to mold us His death, burial, and resurrection to define us as Christ followers. What I did not like about this book is that Spencer makes the case, whether intentional or not, that a believer can grow spiritually without belonging to a local body of believers. As a pastor, I will be the first one to say that he church is not perfect. However, the church is the bride of Christ. I see it as an impossibility to love Christ and want nothing to do with His bride. Spencer seems to be saying that because the church is not perfect, nor useful, then it is not necessary. I would hope that this book is successful is reaching believers who may have abandoned the church to not quit on Jesus. I hope the mixed message does not get in the way. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 28, 2011
Things I thought after reading this book:
1. It did not change my life.
2. It did not change the way I viewed Christianity or Jesus.
I've really been thinking about what being a Christian REALLY means these past six months. I reached points where I was ready to leave "religion" and pursue a relationship with Jesus by taking a break from the church (We could discuss this a lot considering I really wouldn't have left at all since Christians ARE the church, but I won't go into that). So I was really interested when I read about his book and read this:
Have you left the church in search of Jesus?
But the book didn't meet my standards halfway. I found myself becoming bored and skipping pages. I loved the introduction, but it didn't hook me. I felt like there was a certian depth missing from the book that I was feeling in my heart.
I'm sure this book has helped many non-Christians and Christians see the real Jesus. Spencer did an excelent job writing and has helped many people. I agreed with most of what he said and was hesitant to agree with the rest of it (I never recamend that you read a book and believe every word in there. Line it up with Scripture and see if it's truth before you swallow it hook, line, and sinker.)
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Posted January 12, 2011
Good for those questioning the relevancy of institutional worship
I was drawn to the book "Mere Churchianity," by Michael Spencer (The Internet Monk), largely in response to the question: "Have you left the church in search of Jesus?" For someone like me, a relatively new believer who has been struggling to ascertain the relevance of institutional worship, it's a compelling question.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Early on Spencer states that the purpose of his book is not to church-bash, then he proceeds with an itemization of the deficiencies and hypocrisies found in today's Evangelical churches - mega, small, even home churches have their share of issues.
At first, I was surprised that, for all his complaints against Evangelical churches, Spencer remained a Baptist minister and teacher at a Christian school, presumably until his death in April 2010. On further reflection, though, I see it not as a contradiction to the point of the book, but rather an illustration of it.
My impression is that his intended audience comprises people disenchanted with corporate worship, who equate faith with their church affiliation, and who are likely to abandon Christ if they leave the church. He contrasts his coined term "Jesus Shaped Spirituality" with prevalent Church Shaped Spirituality, and urges readers to get to know the Jesus of the Four Gospels, rather than the Sunday morning Order of Worship.
The final chapters are dedicated to helping the reader discern and plug into the real Jesus community - those people in your church, your neighborhood, your town, who are living Christ's example. God works through His people, not man's institutions, but if you find and surround yourself with His people you will experience Christ no matter the shape, size or style of the building.
Though my personal church-crisis is not one of faith, or of questioning the relevancy of Jesus, I found many kindred sentiments expressed in "Mere Churchianity" and recommend it for those who are struggling to grow a "Jesus Shaped Spirituality."
Disclaimer: I received a copy of "Mere Churchianity" from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for free in exchange for this review.
Posted December 17, 2010
A Hard Look at the Church
I am one of the "leavers" talked about in the book so this book and my review are personal. Fortunately the book is already divided into four sections because I need to divide my review also.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
In the first section, the author tries to explain why people are leaving the traditional church denominations. Unfortunately, the book takes on the tone of a rant. While the author gives a cursory criticism of all of the major denominations, he was especially hard on his own Evangelical churches. It reached the rant stage when he repeatedly criticized churches for not embracing the homosexual lifestyle and abortion. In the author's view, people are leaving traditional churches exclusively because of these social issues, and I think his view is misguided. There were also a few stories given as object lessons that were childish and the point was difficult to find.
While I didn't like the first part of the book, I thought the last three sections were rich with information and insight. The author explains with clarity that an individual can leave the church, but not necessarily leave behind their devotion to Jesus. In fact, sometimes they need to leave the church to find Jesus. My favorite chapter title is "It's a Bad Idea to be a Good Christian" where he explains the importance of a gospel without adjectives. In other words, true Grace.
Do you see Jesus in your church? If not, you may need to leave the church to maintain your integrity as a believer. I would recommend the book to those who have left or been driven out of the church. I also think those still in the church may be able to improve the vision of their church.
I received this book free of charge for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers.
Posted July 19, 2010
On the mark...
Michael Spencer became deeply concerned about the state of the evangelical church and as a result started the blog Internet Monk. His untimely death has robbed us of a loving critic of the Church. He very clearly states his case and proposes solutions that are simple and biblical. Read this to be challenged in your thinking. I was and continue to be.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 26, 2011
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Posted June 29, 2011
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Posted February 5, 2011
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Posted July 9, 2011
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