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Pure Scum: The Left-Out, the Right-Brained and the Grace of God

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An exhilarating faith life is a tricky business. But ask anyone who's sought after it--from the founders and members of Scum of the Earth Church in Denver to the apostle Paul, from whose letters the church took its name--and they'll tell you it's worth it. In Pure Scum Mike Sares, pastor of Scum of the Earth, takes us along a faith journey, telling the story of how a pretty normal, middle-aged guy met and became friends with Reese Roper and other members of the band, Five Iron Frenzy, and got hoodwinked by FIF and the Holy Spirit into pastoring of a vibrant church full of artists and skater punks. For anyone--pastor, church leader or plain old Christian--who wants to share the amazing grace of God with the "left-out" and "the right-brained," Mike's story will show you what this kind of exhilaration looks like, and more importantly, what it costs. It's a tricky business, but it's worth every step and misstep.

173 pages, Paperback

First published March 3, 2010

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Mike Sares

2 books2 followers

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5 stars
29 (27%)
4 stars
48 (46%)
3 stars
19 (18%)
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5 (4%)
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3 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
Profile Image for Dean Anderson.
Author 10 books3 followers
February 9, 2020
My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting this church, Scum of the Earth, while visiting a church in every state in 2016. I bought this book at the church, but before I finished reading it on our trip, I lost the book. I finally got the book again as a gift last year and greatly enjoyed it. (Here is our post about our visit to the church: http://deanandmindygotochurch.blogspo... )
Profile Image for Andy Littleton.
Author 6 books9 followers
November 3, 2020
5 stars because this is the story of a one-of-a-kind church, and we need so many more of these! I also loved hearing Mike’s roller coaster journey and the ways God uses Scum like him to deeply impact a very specific community God loves.
September 3, 2019
I love this church and this community. Wonderful to hear the stories behind its coming to be and to be reminded of God's amazing faithfulness.
February 24, 2017
If you are a proponent of the “Keeping it Real” approach to life then Mike Sares’ personal story and that of Scum of the Earth Church is a must-read. Mike takes us along the journey of his testimony and testimonies of others to help anyone understand how to be more Christ-like. Throughout the book Mike’s message is told in entertaining and engaging language – as if you were sitting with an old friend and having a chat over a coffee or a drink. Mike’s book is delivered with great wit and naturalness, but make no mistake it will challenge you and make you think hard. A great read.
16 reviews
June 22, 2016
The story of Mike Sares and Scum of the Earth Church (SOTEC), a Denver based church that, as is told, was the main home church of Five Iron Frenzy during much of their heyday. For fans of the band, there are several interesting background stories here, but this is much more than a FIF documentary.

The church name, based on 1 Corinthians 4:13, is certainly attention-grabbing and indicative of its outside-the-typical-Christian-box approach to church. This book relates the mindset and very intentional decisions behind the formation of the church. Some of the SOTEC decisions spring from a (self-aware) wariness of the modern suburban American church, and are a good challenge to those of us who tend to reside on the clean, by-the-book, everything-perfect side of the fence.

These Jon Foreman lyrics from his song "Patron Saint of Rock and Rock" are an apt description of what Scum of the Earth is completely committed NOT to be.

There’s a park downtown
Where the homeless get ignored,
Where the church next door is a crowd
Singing blessed “Blessed are the poor”,
Where the mercedes drive away
Muttering, “druggies, drunks, and whores”
Where the bumper sticker displays
“My co-pilot is the Lord”

SOTEC practices what it preaches, with an active and flourishing ministry to the homeless and hurting. Mike Sares is refreshingly transparent with his own struggles in pastoring a church that is often extremely messy, dealing with problems that many churches don't have to (or want to) deal with. Attending a goth nightclub to help a new believer witness to his friends? Approving someone to share a powerful personal testimony in church that contains a few f-bombs? The stories here are numerous.

One theme I was struck by is how pervasive the effects of habitual, unchecked vices in someone's life can be and how destructive they are. It's perhaps more noticeable in the alcoholic who has drunk himself into a unresponsive stupor and is lying under a park bench. But to reference the Jon Foreman lyrics again, is the opposite "look-down-your-nose" attitude to that "drunk" any better?
Profile Image for Bob.
1,852 reviews621 followers
July 1, 2013
The title is an attention grabber for sure. But paying attention to the narrative of Scum of the Earth church is well worthwhile. Why would you ever name a church "Scum of the Earth?" Sares had good biblical reasons. 1 Corinthians 4:13b says, "We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment" (NIV).

The book interweaves a narrative of Sares own journey that led him from Toledo, Ohio to the Capital Hill district of Denver and to ministry with the "left out and the right-brained"--street people and artists, including the people who would form the band Five Iron Frenzy. It is a narrative describing hallmarks of this church--risk, brokenness, honesty, love of the arts, and unconditional love. Sares sums up his ministry in these words, "So here we are, stuck in this life where to be broken is really to be the safest, and to be whole is really to be in a dangerous place. Because of this we struggle, we strive, we aim, we try to be a church that recognizes its need for a savior on a daily basis" (p. 166).

On a personal note, I worked in the Toledo area in the late 70s and I think that Mike and I probably crossed paths--we may even have explored his joining our collegiate ministry. In a way, I am very thankful he didn't because of the distinctive ministry God eventually led him to in Denver. I'm glad this story has been told and I hope it might serve to help other churches look beyond the programs and the hype, to their own brokenness and the One who saves us day by day.
Profile Image for Carla.
11 reviews5 followers
May 4, 2013
My son Sean told me about one of his favorite bands Five Iron Frenzy. I looked them up on the internet and them and this book they play a large part in: author Mike Sares was their pastor. He writes the real, the gritty, the heart-wrenching & the heart-felt knowing "we are continuously converted. I repeat: we are continuously converted. We are always broken, so therefore we continuously converted."
Profile Image for Karen.
34 reviews
November 3, 2012
this is a book written by the pastor of a local Denver church, Scum of the Earth Church. About the struggles, joys and God's grace in serving the homeless and people who are thought of as the misfits, on the fringe, the right-brained and the left-out - the people I deal with every week!
95 reviews
October 28, 2015
Exceptional read doubles as a memoir and a significant guide for church planters and ministering to those who slip through the cracks. Plus lots in the story about one of my favorite bands, Five Iron Frenzy! Entertaining, heartbreaking, gentle kick in the butt.
Profile Image for Doug Dale.
206 reviews3 followers
March 3, 2012
An interesting and personal look at the blessings and challenges of having a church that offers the 'left-out' a place to experience the grace of God. Certainly good lessons for all of us here.
54 reviews1 follower
April 29, 2012
Very good book about the founding of an alternative church. I really enjoyed the pastor's view of evangelizing and his deep relationships with groups of people who typically are "unchurched."
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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