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Messy Spirituality: God's Annoying Love for Imperfect People

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  3,133 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
'I Guess I'm Not a Very Good Christian . . .'Do you feel like: I don't pray enoughI don't read my Bible enoughI don't share my faith enoughI don't love God enoughI'm not committed enoughI'm not spiritual enoughThen this book is for you. Messy Spiritualtiy was written for the silent majority of us who have been convinced that we just don't do Christianity right. We spend mo ...more
Hardcover, 141 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Zondervan Publishing Company (first published September 20th 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 06, 2010 Dylan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to walk in the way of jesus
Rather than give you a straight forward review, let me tell you this:

This book clocks in at around 140 pages. That's a day read for me, maybe two if I take it slow.

The first time I read it, it took me a month... because I had to stop every few pages to let the words sink in as my tears came out.

Life is messy, but Grace isn't afraid to get itself dirty.
Garland Vance
Before Yaconelli's death, he served as the founder of Youth Specialties, a pastor, and a popular conference speaker. He was incredibly authentic and had a deep desire to love God and other people. His heart is certainly conveyed in the pages of this book.

However, I find Yaconelli's view of discipleship / sanctification / spiritual formation to be small and uninspiring. It boils down to this: "God's love for you is wonderful, and life is hard. So your Christian growth will be hard and messy, and
Jan 19, 2010 Rhonda rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I first heard of this book in church, a lay pastor at our church read a quote from this book during his sermon, and I was hooked...had to get the book, ordered it from Just hit me head on...
talks about how spirituality does not necessarily fit into this nice handly little mold we like to think it can take many shapes and forms.

This is the part he quoted...

"My life is a mess.
After forty-five yeras of trying to follow Jesus, I keep losing him in the crowded busyness of my li
Feb 01, 2013 Jacki rated it it was ok
I tried.
The author started with a really good point: People who screw up or break the church's code of conduct can still be just as fiercely "spiritual" or God-centered as the Pastor.
My problem is, he didn't get any deeper than that. The whole book reiterates that sentence in various paragraph forms. At first I was just annoyed by the repetition, but then I got a little worried because his over-emphasis of how much "Godly people" can screw up started to sound like he was allowing sin
Lisa Wuertz
Feb 05, 2009 Lisa Wuertz rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Lisa by: Caleb Magnino
This books was an easy read, but packed full of so many things I needed to hear.

I’m not sure what is being said about Yaconelli these days (probably not much seeing as how he’s been dead a few years). I remember hearing a few things a couple years ago about the organization he co-founded, Youth Specialties, and the role it was playing in the “emergent church”. Whatever. I just remember reading his other book, Dangerous Wonder in college and getting a lot out of it. This other book has been sitt
Jun 20, 2010 Kim rated it it was amazing
Messy Spirituality is sort of like Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. It hits Christians where it hurts in terms of their own spirituality. I'll be honest I'm a Christian, but I haven't read the Bible. I also don't pray every day like I should. I try and sometimes I get a good week going, but then I just forget. Its almost like life hits me and I just can't do anything to stop it. This book made me feel better about my doubts and my beliefs. It was written by a guy who went through the same thing t ...more
Mar 20, 2012 Debee rated it really liked it
My home study group decided we'd read this book as a group and discuss it along the way. Each week we met we listened together as either a tape narrated the book as we followed along or a member (me) read it aloud. We sometimes stopped the reading for discussion, that wasn't always in agreement with the author... But over all what we realized is that culturally speaking there is a certain " togetherness" Christians are viewed as having obtained. What Yaconelli is stating and illustrating through ...more
Jul 25, 2008 James rated it it was amazing
I give thanks to God for this book.

Mike Yaconelli has written a wonderful exploration into the practicalities of grace. It is an easy read, filled with vivid stories and written for the laity. There are so many books on spiritual formation including a plethora written in the last couple of decades. Sadly, the most popular ones pay lip service to God's grace while subtly seducing the reader into a righteousness based upon works. Our calling in life, these books suggest, is to make God happy. Yaco
Jan 12, 2009 Crystal rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
We are always under construction. That sentence is really the best one-line summary of this book. This book embraces that concept - and explores the true meaning of what it means to “be spiritual.”

Mike Yaconelli died in 2003, and I think one of the most powerful parts of the book was the foreward written by his wife. She gives us a glimpse of what kind of man Mike was - incredibly real. A man of deep faith, and at the same time a man living in the trenches of life. It is out of that framework th
Oct 01, 2007 Adam rated it liked it
Ah, Yaconelli.
I think I would have enjoyed this man if I had ever been able to meet him.
In essence, what I took from this book can be summed up in this:
My fumbling, haphazard approach to faith in Christ, as strange and uneven as it seems oftentimes, is still my seeking to have faith in Christ - in short, God smiles upon it, and me, and my not understanding or taking the rigid, highly structured approach to my Christian faith doesn't cast me off the side of the road into some heretic's pit.
Willa Grant
Apr 28, 2009 Willa Grant rated it liked it
A good little book for those of us who feel as if we fall down on the job spiritually. The author makes it clear that real spirituality lies in the gray areas of our spiritual life. I really liked the acceptance of the fact that we all have doubts, laziness & just plain confusion about our feelings & practices with God. The perfect people in the pews may not be as spiritually connected as we religious screw-ups. Yay for the real spiritual life which happens in the trenches of the everyda ...more
Jul 13, 2009 Jared rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!!
Recommended to Jared by: Niki Nowell
If you want to understand God's love for you and feel fine with Him being ever near to you in the midst of whatever is going on (including your failures, sins and disappointments), then this is the book for you.

My following of Jesus was forever changed in the most positive of ways by this book, and yours will be too, if you read it. Now that I've finished, I'm starting on through it again. Yes, it is that good.
Kevin Hammond
Jun 30, 2012 Kevin Hammond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mike Yaconelli's Messy Spirituality teaches us how to slow down and focus on the things that truly matter, and it forcefully declares how we have been accepted by God through Jesus Christ. As we assimilate this acceptance, it becomes the most liberating piece of knowledge we could ever possess. It effectively demonstrates how our messes are merely opportunities for God to work in us and through us for Christ to be seen.
Apr 07, 2009 Mindy rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
Really love this book. My favorite quote:
"It is the incongruence and the oddness of our disjointed spirituality that ought to characterize every church. For God so loved the world, that whosoever believes in him will, from that point on, be considered weird by the rest of the world, which means the church should be more like a zoo than a tomb of identical mummies."
Jan 12, 2016 Bethany rated it liked it
Really good point in that no matter where we are at in out walk with God, where we have come from, or who we are, Christianity is going to look messy and sometimes a lot different than how we may have first thought.

My problems with the book is two-fold. The author seems to constantly be on the attack against what one might consider an orthodox Christian or perhaps a stereotypical Christian, this being due to overemphasizing his point. Secondly, although he really punches home the point that Chri
Oct 14, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it
Be you a reigning monarch or a person living on the streets of an inner city; be you male or female, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, the simple fact is that we are all broken people with messed up lives and a messy spirituality. Yaconelli's simple but heartfelt message is that God is the God of people with messy lives. The message and example of Jesus, and the actions of God shown throughout the Scriptures, make it so very clear that God is the God of the b ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Trina rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: new/struggling christians
Shelves: help-yourself
Initially, Yaconelli has a wonderful point to make regarding our society and it's impression of how Christians should live VS how they really are. Unfortunately that is all he has to say. This point is repeated and beaten to death. Where the flow of the book should turn a corner, it just keeps on driving home the initial point.
Stacey Gish
Jul 30, 2010 Stacey Gish rated it it was amazing
Finally, a "Christian" admits that he doesn't really understand what God wants, that he'll probably never get there anyway, and life just is what it is. Loved this book... Have to read it on a regular basis just to remind myself that it's okay to question, doubt, scream, holler, and cry out to God.
Oct 10, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
This book was JUST what I needed at a time when it just seemed to me like church was another club to impress people in. THIS book describes what I feel the Church to REALLY be. Messy and full of love and good stories!
RIP Mike Yaconelli, you done good!
Nov 07, 2012 Johnny rated it really liked it
Yaconelli delivers a knock out punch! In a style all his own, and easy to read, helps those of us who have struggled with the notion of having to be perfect in order to please God by showing us that spirituality is often in the messiness of our lives.
Michael Hsu
May 24, 2015 Michael Hsu rated it it was ok
Shelves: christianity
This book started off very promisingly with the idea that we are not perfect. With a statement like that, I was expecting thought provoking insights on how to deal with our messiness so we can be a bit tidier. But what I got instead was repeated excuses as to why it is ok to be “messy” because in our messiness we find spirituality. I agree with the author that we are all “under construction”, but there must be a genuine desire to make some progress while under construction. Having said that, I d ...more
Jan 11, 2008 David rated it really liked it
Good book but he was at his best when he was speaking.
Have a listen.
May 31, 2014 Sarah rated it did not like it
Ugh. Half way through and it makes me sick to my stomach. Almost don't want to finish it, but it's so short I probably will. Apparently "normal" people are awful Christians, and the only true faithful are "messy" people.
Christianity/faith in Christ is so much more than what he is describing.

Update 5/31/14
Nope, I can't finish it. It was awful. I wanted to rip the pages out. He knows nothing of my Jesus and what normal Christianity looks like. He turns us all into the enemy...he's barking up the
Apr 22, 2015 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian, read-2015
A refreshingly honest look at how ordinary people can connect with God, without having to go through the hoops and trappings that are so often associated with ‘spirituality’. Yaconelli was a pastor, yet he struggled at times to pray. He made mistakes, he messed up. He explains that the spiritual life does not have to be a neat progression of steps but is often disorganised and messy.

Specific chapters look at hindrances to the spiritual life. The author encourages us to let go of the past, wheth
Aug 05, 2012 Ben rated it it was ok
At a dinner last year the topic of life changing books came up. Given the intimate company, I took care to note them all but have since, sadly, left most of them simply lingering on my to-read list. Of these books, I just finished Messy Spirituality by Michael Yaconelli. The actual book recommended had been Dangerous Wonder, but the premise and structure of this earlier book by the same author was less appealing to me (based on reviews), so I opted for Messy Spirituality. Both are rated 4.5 star ...more
Mar 27, 2009 Darden rated it really liked it
People are messy; not just in a in a physical sense, but emotionally and spiritually as well. It seems that we often find ourselves doing what we should not do while disregarding the things we should do. And in the end, all we are left with is the mess of our failures and the guilt of our mistakes. It’s just an unfortunate part of life that may leave us questioning whether we are good enough for God to love.

And the ultimate answer to that question, according to author Mike Yaconelli, is “no.” We
Aug 24, 2012 Stephany rated it really liked it
While I wouldn't say this novel has completely changed my life, it has transformed my thinking about what Christianity looks like. Mike Yaconelli does a fantastic job of tearing down all the rules and regulations we place in front of a true, meaningful relationship with God. And when we do that, we realize a relationship with Jesus is messy and complicated and so far from perfect. But through that mess, we find the true meaning behind God's perfect love for us.

Some of it, I didn't totally agree
Cesar Santamaria
Jan 02, 2013 Cesar Santamaria rated it really liked it
It's really powerful to read a book about 'not-so-encouraging' stories...but rather, stories of real struggling christians that remind you are not the most wicked sinner that has ever existed, but as them you are been transformed daily by your relationship with Jesus.

I think what hit me the most was Yaconelli's own account of repenting many times about a certain misbehavior, and stressing that he honestly 'really and decisively repented before the Lord, each and every time he did', before misbeh
A.C. Bauch
this one was a quick read. i can't even remember the last time i read a book in one sitting...

this book resonated with me because i have (and for the most part continue to) had a messy life. while i've gained much greater knowledge and understanding of my "mess" over the years, it seems that i'm never on top of things as much as i'd like to be--especially in my spiritual life. i often feel inadequate, like i'm not doing enough. this book was a great reminder that my awareness that i can't ever *
Jul 30, 2007 papasteve rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I have, the last number of years of my life, understood life to be messy. I think, as a young adult I believed that life is orderly, or at least can be ordered by belief and will. But events in my life have destroyed that order and made me a broken human being. Because I once believed that life could be orderly, that to be a mess in life was to somehow, at the same time, be faithless or disobedient. At least less than perfect, because those who believe in orderliness become too easily, perfectio ...more
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“Spirituality is a mixed-up, topsy-turvy, helter-skelter godliness that turns our lives into an upside-down toboggan ride of unexpected turns, surprise bumps and bone shattering crashes ... a life ruined by a Jesus who loves us right into his arms.” 17 likes
“The Church is the place where the incompetent, the unfinished, and even the unhealthy are welcome. I believe Jesus agrees.” 7 likes
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