In his book, Mere Churchianity, Michael Spencer asks a question that has been rattling around my brain for days now: If I were to spend three years with Jesus, what kind of person would I be? Spencer argues that the disciples who followed Jesus had their worldviews, especially about God, rocked again and again by God-in-the-flesh, Jesus. He writes, “Jesus wouldn’t leave their ideas of God alone until he was their idea of God.” Such is the start of the argument that Spencer makes for Jesus-shaped spirituality.
And it’s an argument that I liked. Instead of choosing one group as the Christian cultural elite, Spencer goes after the whole establishment. He wants to break down the ideas of the modern church and follow what he calls “Jesus-shaped spirituality.” This spirituality is Jesus, having a genuine experience of God, and figuring out how a life gets transformed. Sounds simple, right? Then why aren’t churches in the United States doing just that, Spencer asks.
Mere Churchianity is a response to those disgusted with church, but who desperately want to find God. He says that this book is for those ready to walk out the door, or to those who have already left. However, this book is really for anyone who wants to change the status quo and who feels that God has a deeper plan for the church. Really, it is getting beyond phony smiles and pat answers, to the grimy mire of where people really live, where Jesus really ministered.
Instead of coming across as a know-it-all, Spencer eagerly admits his own shortcomings as a pastor and shares a lot of stories that illustrate his points. Most of all, Spencer points people to Jesus. His message is not to look at the institution of church, other people, but to Jesus Himself if you want to know who God really is, if you want to have a spirituality shaped by God, not by man.
Spencer, known to many though his website InternetMonk.com, passed away last April after a long fight with cancer. Fortunately, his words still live on in his website and in this book, Mere Churchianity.
*With thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my review copy of this book.*