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Posted December 9, 2010

Book: ReChurch: Healing Your Way Back to the People of God
Author: Stephen Mansfield
Barna, Concord Pass Brentwood, TN, 2010. Pp. 170

An Excerpt from Jacket:

Our stories are all too familiar: The church we once loved broke up or our favorite pastor was fired or the musicians all left when the elders cracked down on the style of worship. The former pastor had an affair or the new pastor doesn’t support Israel or the youth leader rebuked the teenagers for wanting to date. And so it goes

. . . Stephen Mansfield learned how much a church can hurt. Thankfully, he also learned how to dig out of that hurt, break through the bitterness and anger, stop making excuses, and get back to where he needed to be with God and his people.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Yet church isn’t all lofty and sweet. There is also the fun, the rowdiness, the holy play that is the humanity in us touching ground. A child belches in church and says aloud so all can hear. “That was a good one, Daddy!” Everyone remembers the time the pastor dressed like Braveheart or the youth leader roared his motorcycle down the hall. A hymnal falls from the balcony and bops an elder on the head, prompting tearful laughter for weeks after. There is the mud fight at the retreat and the pie-eating contest that got out of control and the time the whole congregation erupted in laughter when the elder said from the pulpit, “Let’s all hold up Sister Jensen’s leg in prayer.”

Then, too, there are the hugs on Sunday morning and the old ones holding hands and the meals that come when you’re sick and can’t make it on your own.

And when it works, when it all comes together and there is peace, finding the joy of a good church feels like finding the meaning of life. We wonder that anyone would refuse such a gift and we long for the world to know. “Come,” we say. “Know our God and his people, the Church. You are hungry for it whether you know it or not and nothing in a bar or a gang or an entourage can mean what this will if only you come along.”

But we are not fools. We know that evil lurks. There is the divorce plaguing the family that usually sits in the fourth row and we see the man who has come to church drunk more than once. We know that the worship leader had to be let go for something troubling not long ago, and we recall sadly the eighteen-year-old who killed himself a few years back. We know that darkness presses at the edge of the light.

Yet here is where we begin to set ourselves up for pain and disillusionment, for in our love for our church and our holy regard for those who lead us in the things of God, we forget the nature of humanity. We are not surprised by the evil pressing in from without, but we are blind to the potential for wickedness that slumbers in our own souls. We forget that humans are a combination of greatness and grief, of righteous might and disgusting sin. In our sentimentality about our church and those we love in it, we forget to stand guard against the natural failings of humanity. We turn off our deflector shields and cast aside our filters and begin to ignore the signals our inner radar may be sending.

For you see, in truth we preach and so adore, there is a description of ourselves we can never afford to forget. Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians that human beings in their lesser selves are given to factions and discord and jealousy and selfish ambition and dissensions and hate, to name but a few of our darker traits. In other words, sin has hardwired treacherous tendencies into our soul. And they define us, at least until they are rewired by the Word of God, by the Holy Spirit.

Table of Contents:

1. The image of our folly

2. The sea breeze of the centuries

3. Man: the greatness and the grief

4. Lessons from a season in hell

5. The throne room of your mind

6. Truths for getting whole

7. Coming home