Many months ago a friend sent me a copy of Michael Spencer’s book Mere Churchianity in the mail. I had only recently heard about the book, and I knew vaguely of Michael Spencer through his blog, which I gathered had gained quite a large readership over the years leading up to Michael’s passing away due to cancer in April of 2010.
Known throughout the blogosphere as the Internet Monk, Michael wrote a great deal about what he called “Jesus-shaped spirituality.” Mere Churchianity, published only a month after his passing, deals heavily with this thought. His intended audience is the scores of people who have left or are thinking about leaving the traditional church, and his expressed goal is to help us find our way back (or encourage us further in) to this Jesus-shaped spirituality.
The thing I like most about this book is its refreshing honesty. Michael himself pastored in a traditional church, yet he wasted no time trying to cover up or excuse the glaring inconsistencies which he saw between modern Christianity and the person of Christ. Throughout his writing he constantly urges the reader to look to Jesus Himself and not to any other thing for the spiritual reality that all men seek. In fact, there were many times while reading when I thought to myself, “Ok, here it comes, he’s about to spring the trap and try to convince me to return to the ‘church’,” but it never happened. In fact, Michael makes it clear that this is not his intention. He even admits, “for many of you, leaving the church may have been the most spiritually healthy thing you ever did.” I appreciated hearing that from the brother.
To me, one of the signs of a really good book is that you find yourself underlining practically every page; much of Mere Churchianity was like that for me. I also found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion at the aforementioned honesty with which Michael writes about the inconsistencies of organized religion and the absurdities of human nature. It was just a fun read, if I could put it that way.
So go have a look at Michael’s website if you haven’t already, and maybe even read the book for yourself if you get a chance. His “dispatches from the post-evangelical wilderness” will surely resonate with you on one level or another, I guarantee it.