Thursday, April 22, 2010

ReChurch: Healing Your Way Back to the People of God by Stephen Mansfield

"[Jesus] loves his bride.  Go figure.  She's a mess in my view, but he's crazy about her and won't put up with me either speaking ill of her or pulling away from her if I am going to be intimate with him...  The fact is that if you are going to love Jesus, you're going to have to make nice with his wife."

When I saw ReChurch: Healing Your Way Back to the People of God, I knew it was a book I needed to read personally.  As the wife of a pastor, I don't have the option of leaving physically when things get tough but sometimes leaving mentally and emotionally can be just as bad.  Or worse.  Can I be that honest with you? I have never given up on serving God but there are days I want to give up on his people- myself included.  Myself more often than not.  If that has ever described you, you need to read this book.

Stephen Mansfield has not written a book that will prompt you to rant and rave about what those church people have done or how everyone's just a hypocrite or how bad you have it and how much "those people" have done to hurt you.  Instead, he quickly shares his own journey through the pain of being hurt by those from whom you least expect it (without giving details or bashing those from his past) and then the rough road back to healing.  I say rough road because he doesn't focus on what everyone else has done or continues to do, but he focuses on you.  He focuses on me.  He leads us to look at ourselves, to look at our beliefs, to look at the truth of the situation, and to view the church as God does.  He gives a wonderful illustration about how we hold onto our bitterness, one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

He writes from the perspective of a man who was formerly a pastor and continues in a different type of ministry now.  Not everything was applicable to me or my situation but there was plenty there that was, and it hit hard.  As in "hurts so good" hard.  There is no lack of grace here though, or belittling of the pain some have experienced at the hands of good Christian people.  This is not a "just get over it" type of book.  I appreciated this, as well as the practicality of his message.  He doesn't just show you why you need to change your thinking and your heart, but follows it up with practical exercises to help you not just read but DO.  I read this rather quickly and want to go back through, taking time for the exercises which pertain to me.

I plan to recommend this highly to my friends who also work in full time ministry.  I believe it could be a huge help, life changing even, for any one who is still bearing wounds from the church body in which they had hoped to find safety and rest.  I finished the book with a truer understanding of the church and a better understanding of myself.  I finished the book with truths planted firmly in my heart that will hopefully take root and help "restore the joy of my salvation".  I finished the book with hope.

*Disclosure: I received this book at no cost from Tyndale Publishers, for review purposes.*
16/52

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