I had no previous knowledge of Mr. Spencer, so I was a bit surprised at the level of honesty and blunt language he used. I don't have the same level of disillusionment that many have had with the church at large, but I related to many of the issued presented. I found myself underlining many of it, wanting to say "Amen!" but also feeling a renewed responsibility to represent the church more correctly. This is not a soft, loving encouragement to live better, but a serious bucket of cold water to institutional Christianity. To call it critical of the conventional church is to say it mildly. Refreshing and needed are my personal takes.
A basic summary of the book is an acknowledgement of the failure of many aspects of the modern, evangelical church to connect to people despite the massive amounts of money poured into the entertainment values that the church seems to prioritize as the connection point. It clearly isn't working on the broad scale, and Michael then goes on to discuss what does work; a Jesus-shaped spirituality. His writings clearly defend the essentials of following Christ, but gives a defense to the variety of ways this can be manifested in individuals and groups as well.
Even though his critique of the church is harsh, he does this in a mildly self-deprecating way, acknowledging that he was part of the problem for many years, never to make it to perfection, but trying. I felt like when I was afraid he was getting to superior, he would include a story or disclaimer that showed he knew he was a flawed human, too.
I followed the writing very easily and since I resonated with so much of what he wrote, I didn't feel the offense that I imagine those ingrained in the organized church may feel. I do think, however, that constructive criticism is vital, not just in the secular world, but in the family of faith as well. I would recommend this book to those who have left the organized church, are thinking of leaving, or like me, just long for a honest approach to growth within the church. Just be ready for some hard truths and brutal honesty.
I received a copy of this book at not cost by the publishers, and was in no way encouraged to review it with any bias.