Jesus-Shaped Spirituality


Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer, The Internet Monk

What’s your gospel? The late and much missed Michael Spencer confronts us with this question throughout the pages of Mere Churchianity. Separating church life spirituality and a spiritual life centered in the Jesus found in the gospels, Spencer leads us to question which side of the divide we find ourselves on. Without using the phrase, he critiques the kind of ‘cultural Christianity’ that has infected the Church, causing us to stray from our principles. His purpose in writing the book matches that of his postings over the years on his blog,, to restore Jesus as the first love of the Christian.

Spencer speaks throughout of church-leavers, those souls who have abandoned the structure and practices of the modern church while retaining their love for the Savior. His words are not a polemic pro leaving, but rather, a nudge to have us look at what the church has become and what is driving people away. At the core of his argument is the contrast of a church-shaped spirituality and the Jesus-shaped form. This distinction is stark. The former is shaped by institutional Christianity and all of the influences that have, to varying degrees, softened her and made her palatable to the larger culture. Jesus-shaped spirituality is rooted in the counter-cultural, brutally honest and challenging life and person of Jesus Christ as we know Him from the pages of the four gospel accounts.

Michael devoted himself to a Christianity that was rigorous, loving and had nothing to do with living your best life now. It had everything to do with Jesus, knowing God and a faith that transformed much more than it separated us into walled-off tribes. He walks us through the messy process of finding the Jesus that is sometimes forgotten in the middle of capital campaigns and ski outings for the youth. You will read the book quickly, but the move to the shelf will not be as rapid. The little points here and there on the pages will cause you to return as you think about what he wrote and you find yourself attracted to shedding the churchianity cloak in favor of Jesus.

I’m grateful to Waterbrook Press who supplied this copy for review.

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