In Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer, the self-proclaimed “Internet Monk” writes to address the culture of what Christianity has become, a seeming devotion to doing more, being better, and looking good for God’s sake (p. 5) and confront that culture with how the Bible portrays the Christian life. The perceived culture, which he brands as “Churchianity,” is compared and contrasted with the teachings of Scripture.
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
Studies show that one in four young adults claim no formal religious affiliation, and church leaders have long known that this generation is largely missing on Sunday morning. Hundreds of thousands of “church leavers” have had a mentor and pastor, however, in Michael Spencer, known to blog readers as the Internet Monk. Spencer guided a vast online congregation in its search for a more honest and more immediate practice of Christian faith.
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.