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Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality
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Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  186 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Have you left the church in search of Jesus?

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 gu...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published June 15th 2010 by WaterBrook Press (first published 2010)
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If I could give this book 6 stars, I would. It had that kind of impact on me. Prior to about a week ago, I had never heard of Michael Spencer or the "Internet Monk" website. (How did I miss that?!) This book came at the recommendation of a friend of mine who is a former pastor(for many of the same reasons Michael Spencer listed). I left "the church" almost three years ago, and haven't been able to get back into it. I have had heart-to-heart discussions and full blown arguments with my mother, my...more
Will Thomas
Michael Spencer is dead, and I deeply resent that. He made this provocative and important statement, then inconsideratly was removed from the dialogue! NO FAIR!

It's a wondeful thing to find in Christian people that they are fundamentally at home in the denomination in which they were raised. Michael shows throughout his writing that he was thoroughly, deeply, fundamentally Baptist. God bless him! All my life it has been a great joy to find people as thoroughly committed to their religion as I am...more
Bart Breen
Michael Spencer is someone who has had a profound impact on my life through his blogging and article writing and so when I heard that he was writing a book, I was excited to see what he had to say and expected that it would be challenging and controversial to many. Then, sadly, Michael became ill and passed away before the release of his book and the importance of the book took on an additional aura of it being the last message that I'd be able to read from Michael. Maybe that's why I waited abo...more
Phil Rice
In 2011, I started on the path back to God after being effectively out of church for the better part of two decades. I still went to church occasionally, but I wasn't a regular attender and no longer a devoted follower of Jesus. I began attending church every week with my family, and began reading books about faith, and looking for podcasts to listen to on the commute to work and in the office. I came across Coffee Cup Apologetics from Michael Spencer and really enjoyed them. I even checked out...more
I wanted to like this book more than I did. What a title! The title - and the fact that I picked it up dirt cheap when Borders was going out of business are the reason that I read it in the first place. Then, when you read that the author died of cancer, leaving a wife and young children behind, I wanted to like it even more.

Unfortunately, the book had two major problems. First, it had an incredibly wise point - but one easily made in a sentence or two, not one needing 200 plus pages of support....more
Mary Overton
Spencer was an Evangelical Christian who challenged the establishment.

"If you have your Bible handy, look something up for me. Review the stories of the leading heroes in Scripture, and tell me which ones weren't screwed up. Don't the seriously flawed people - such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and Hosea - outnumber the 'good Christians' by about ten to one? And isn't it true that the closer we look at a biblical character, the more likely it will be that we'll see a whole nasty collection of...more
It has taken me a long time to read this book, but it's not because it was boring. I have been highlighting, going back and re-reading passages, and learning many things about Christianity and that I am not insane to feel the way I do. I loved this book and it is a great resource for anyone who wants a true relationship with Jesus.
To most Christians, Michael Spencer’s Mere Churchianity may seem to be a scary book. And it is if you focus less on a relationship with Jesus and more on churchianity, or a “church-dependent religion.” (186) This book should come with a warning to not be quick to judge. I fear that most would start reading and assume that Michael Spencer is against Christianity or even Christian communities in general. This however is not the case. I believe that he has a ministry that is reaching out to people...more
Every Christian should own this book. Every church should have a dozen copies in their library. This is an extremely important book that will only get better as it's read over and over again. It has now made my short list of books I must reread every few years. We miss you, Michael Spencer. Thank you for this amazing legacy.
Amazing book. It is a breath of fresh air for one like myself who has been breathing the stale air of "church" for a long time, and often wonders why I continue to do so. Michael not only gives voice to the discontent of many, but offers hope as well. His is a voice that will be missed.
“Salvation = Jesus + Nothing. Anything you try to add to that equation--priests, churches, doctrines, health food, whatever--will make the equation unsolvable. That's my ridiculously simple summary.
Edgy in all the right places.
Reading Mere Churchianity was refreshing on many levels. First, it was great to "hear" the familiar voice of the Internet Monk once again. Second, it was challenging to believers (including myself) who neglect to truly make Jesus the center of their faith, and exposing those errors that happen in the world of churchianity. Third, it was encouraging and comforting on a personal level. I have struggled with churches but remained a part of them. I also have often been surrounded by believers adheri...more

Mere Churchianity is a book for those who have left the church “to find Jesus.”

Now, Michael Spencer does have a lot of good points. But sadly, for every “YES” that I wrote in the margin, there was a equal, if not greater number of “I think he has this wrong here.”

Growing up in somewhat of a “church culture,” I did relate to many of his examples: the youth group massacring Dairy Queen, studying the bible with little interest in seeing how it pointed to the gospel, the dangers of being culture sha...more
Nothing new, but still an important reminder for Christians (if read carefully)


Michael Spencer’s book, Mere Churchianity, is a much needed plea for Christians not to find their identity in their church membership or attendance, but in their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Spencer begins the book with a story of a young woman who worked at Dairy Queen. Spencer took a youth group into the Dairy Queen one night and created chaos for the workers there by the way they acted and the wa...more
Brian Reagan
While this book is not necessarily written for the person who is happy in their local church, it has some value and insight on where and what is wrong with mainstream "Christianity" in America.
Among the more insightful points in the book is "I don't need this community to try to replace Jesus or to promise to dispense Jesus like a product. . . . I don't need a contrived experience, but a fellowship and a family"(45). However, the means by which he suggests the disaffected achieve this still lea...more
In Mere Churchianity, Michael shared a story about a letter he received from an atheist. The atheist was a worker at Dairy Queen. She wrote to Michael, who was the youth minister, and she told him that his youth group wasn’t very nice to the workers at Dairy Queen. His youth group made a mess with a saltshaker and left it to be cleaned by someone else. She didn’t like Christians but could you blame her for the way that the “youth group” acted. The youth group had a chance to influence non-believ...more
As the scion of a family that had long been leaders in our local church, I grew up witnessing the best and worst aspects of being a part of the church community. Unfortunately, the worst aspects tended to be more prominent and, as I grew older, I became more and more aware of the bitter feelings, the superficiality, the infighting and the power struggles that can easily take root in a church whose focus has been taken off Christ. Mr. Spencer deftly sums up many of these problems in the first hal...more
I had never heard of the Internet Monk prior to receiving this book, nor had I heard of Michael Spencer, the name he went by outside the blogosphere. No, I chose this book for two reasons: One, the title, Mere Churchianity, was clever and Two, I was interested in this so-called "Jesus-Shaped Spirituality." So the book arrived, I discovered it was published posthumously, and I dove in to see what this was all about.

To say I was immediately hooked would be misleading, though I was. For one, the au...more
Jennifer Short
Been to church, sang the songs, got a few dozen t-shirts. Unfortunately, that's what Christianity has been reduced to in much of America. We get up on Sunday morning, dress in our Sunday best, or if we're in a seeker-friendly church, we'll put on our best pair of jeans and polo, and spend two hours looking perfect. But we're not perfect, and neither is the person sitting behind us, our cell group leader, nor our pastor.

This is a book I wish existed a few years ago. I went to a friend who was a p...more
Michael Spencer blogged for many years as the Internet Monk, a blog I only discovered a couple of years ago, but immediately added to my daily reading list. Sadly, during the writing of this, his only book, he was diagnosed with cancer and he died in April, 2010. Thankfully he has left us this final work, which is an amazing must-read for American Christians.

Michael writes honestly about the many problems with American Evangelicalism, all of which basically boil down to churches that focus on an...more
As the Internet Monk, Michael Spencer encouraged thousands through his blog, before he died of cancer last April. His one and only book, Mere Churchianity, is a fitting legacy.

Like his blog, Mere Churchianity is provocative and appeals to those disillusioned by the institutional church. It serves to start a conversation about what following Jesus looks like, and the ways the church is leading us astray and thwarting us in our attempts to live like Christ.

I found the book encouraging on the who...more
I loved this book. I don't think I am the target audience, but I believe imonk has a lot to teach evangelicals about focusing way too much on elections, culture war, how to grow the church and how to have a better quality of life. He describes how many Christians are going through "the spiritual buffet line in the contemporary church" thinking this is "the path to a genuine experience of God, as if God had agreed in advance to endorse whatever is done to make churches more successful."
He points...more
Adam Shields
Short review: Good book. Many books have spoken about church leavers but Spencer does it quite well. I wish that he has spent more time talking about how to find your way back to God, but that is part of his book, that it cannot be prescribed.

I unintentionally read it which Eugene Peterson's Practice Resurrection. I highly recommend doing that. Peterson's books primarily says you cannot grow without the church. Spencer says that the church often gets in the road of actually spiritual growth. I...more
Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, has been a prolific blogger for some time. This is his only book. Michael died in April of 2010. His voice is passionate and articulate. He values honesty, and speaks candidly about the shortcomings he sees in the Church. I can resonate with many of his observations, but I come up with different conclusions. It might be that I am a thick-headed dolt or a self-righteous hypocrite. Or it might be that for whatever reason I have found the Church to be a community...more
Andy Johnson
A breath of fresh air.

This. Book. Rocks. I think it's an important read for those considering leaving the church as well as folks that may be happily engaging in "churchianity" - and all those who fall in-between. Michael Spencer challenged me on a lot of fronts - not necessarily with new information, but in a way that I couldn't conveniently dismiss or discount. It resonated with the tugs (and sometimes head slaps) I've felt from Jesus while dealing with my frustrations in finding a church home.
I really think this is an important book that more Protestants, but especially Evangelicals, should read. It calls into question the current socio-political church and calls people to a more in depth relationship with Christ. While he doesn't offer much in the way of specific tips, I found I related to his frustration with a church that looks much like the rest of the world.
This was an incredible book and it spoke to so many things that I've been dealing with and studying lately. I will need to buy this book and reread it again to really soak in the many truths that hit me while reading. This is a really helpful book, to me and I'm certain to many others.
September 2012 - Interesting book, though I think it might have benefited from some stricter editing. I don't agree with much of Spencer's arguments, but certainly understand what he is reacting to in our Western Christian culture.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads' database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Michael Spencer was the founder, the primary writer, and editor of Internet Monk, Jesus Shaped Spirituality, and the moderator of the Boar’s Head Tavern.

Michael was born in 1956 in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where he was voted the cutest baby in town. By the time he was four,...more
More about Michael Spencer...
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“What we believe about God is the most important truth we believe, and it's the one truth that does the most to shape us. God is the Sun too bright for us to see. Jesus is the Prism who makes the colors beautiful and comprehensible.” 13 likes
“... without the incarnation, Christianity isn't even a very good story, and most sadly, it means nothing. "Be nice to one another" is not a message that can give my life meaning, assure me of love beyond brokenness, and break open the dark doors of death with the key of hope.

The incarnation is an essential part of Jesus-shaped spirituality.”
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