I’ve finished Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer “The Internet Monk“, and really enjoyed the read. I’ve never read his blog, but I might check it out after this.
The book reinforced some of the questions I’ve had on my journey, and brought up a few others that need to be considered. Mainly for me, I need to understand Jesus, the Man. I need to get to know Him.
We had almost no idea what Jesus was like. We did not study him. We did not ask questions. We were arrogant and certain. We assumed that being in church would make us like Jesus… We seldom studied anything in the Bible with the purpose of seeing how it connected to Jesus… We assumed Jesus bought into our idea of what was important in life. (page 6,7)
In the title of the book it says, “Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality”, and seems to me like it is addressing people who have left the Church, or are about to, and confirms their thoughts at to why they left or want to leave. When he say Church, he is referring more to the religious ritual part of Church, not the people, which is more how the Bible defines the church.
The book offered several thought-provoking questions.
If I spent three years with Jesus, how would I feel about….?
How would Jesus shape me in this area if he deeply influenced my thinking and living? (page 42)
He states pretty early in the book, that;
What I need is a personal transformation by the real Christ, not the one that is manufactured by organized Christianity. I need to be changed by the Jesus who never agrees to be quiet and cooperative. I also need a movement of culture-resisting, church-suspicious rebels and Jesus-followers who have taken the same view of religion that Jesus took in his scorching denouncements of religious phoniness. (page 44) (pointing to Matthew 23)
I don’t think this book will appeal to everyone, but if you know someone who has left the organized church, this will probably answer some questions for you. It cleared up some things in my mind, being one of the people who are considering leaving.
Spencer, I think, sums up a lot of what has made me consider this in one simple sentence:
If being a Christian becomes a club membership with an outsourced mission and applause for the people on the big screen, that is not an environment for becoming Jesus-shaped, no matter how big the crowd. (page 158)
I don’t think anyone is trying to pass judgment on anyone else by wanting to leave Churches, they just see something different. They don’t feel the “worship assembly” is an environment for becoming Jesus-shaped. Can you be Jesus-shaped in that environment, sure, but some believe there is something different in scripture. And we just want to put ourselves in the best situation to be Jesus-shaped, because we all know how hard it is anyway. Why make it harder.
We owe this to ourselves and our children. (page 171)
Many of us, as Spencer puts it, mistake Jesus fandom for Jesus discipleship. I don’t want to foster that in my children, even if I think I can see through it. I know how difficult it is to break my mind free from mere churchianity.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.