Tyler Edwards, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Church in Joplin, MO, says there is something missing in the church today. Stuck in a rut of routines and rituals, he claims the church is caught up in doing what it is “supposed to do” but is lacking the true essence of what it is supposed to provide: life. Real faith—and a real relationship with Jesus—is not about playing by the rules, attending services, and praying before meals. Real faith is more than religion. Believing there is a way to breathe life back into the church, Edwards adopts a contemporary and entertaining metaphor—zombies—to highlight and challenge the problematic attitude of today’s believers. He calls most churches the “undead,” filled with zombies, as compared with the ideal Body of Christ, the “living.”

This book is well written—clear, humorous, and at times compassionate—but I struggled as I read it, wondering just who his audience is. The back cover talks about “Liars. Hypocrites. Men, women, and children who attend church because it’s what they are supposed to do. Just going through the motions. These are the undead—people who are disconnected from the Spirit of God—who are spreading a virus of passivity, or worse. No one is completely immune.” Just the group I want to be identified with…. He spends the first half of the book excoriating the average church-goer, then offers some pretty traditional antidotes in the second half. Problem is, if the reader doesn’t identify with the problem, he won’t see the need for the remedy in himself. It will just increase the critical, finger-pointing spirit such books often engender. And if the reader does identify, Edwards is preaching to the choir. The most likely audience would be a small group with a leader committed to open and personal discussion.

This book is similar to several I’ve read over the years. Every few years, there seems to be a new crop of “diss the church” books, some better than others. They pick up on the flavor of the season or the specific wounding of the author. I’d rather see a great case study from a pastor who has actually changed the climate of his church.

This season, I’m seeing more books calling us to radical discipleship of the social justice variety, which of course will appeal to the younger generation. In fact, our church is on a 10-week campaign to study the book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. It’s being covered both in Sunday morning sermons and in our small groups. And it’s causing a lot of angst as members grapple with the radical implications of the gospel. This angst is best handled in a small group, not in exclusively in a book or from the pulpit.

So, if you have a small group that has been together for a while and has built trust, this might be a good book to study for a season. But be prepared to navigate some angst. And you might try a little affirmation on the side.

Win a $50 Amazon gift card:

Kregal Publishers is sponsoring a $50 Amazon.com giveaway. To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using @litfuse) about Zombie Church  or share about it on Facebook! If you tweet we’ll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let the blog tour sponsor know at info@litfusegroup.com. Easy. You can see the rest of the blog tour here.

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5 Comments so far

  1. Tyler Edwards on October 25, 2011 1:16 pm

    Thank you for your review. It is nice to get feedback of all variety. I am not sure you totally caught the point of the book. Having read many of the ‘lets complain about the church’ books this book is really at attempt to avoid that. The church is not just something to be discarded because it is imperfect. The goal of the book is to remind people the beauty and power of a church that is on mission for Jesus and focused on Him. While opening up on a problem is important so people see the issue, the same way you dont go to a doctor if you dont feel sick, many of those who are a part of the issue dont yet realize there is one. The point was as in Rev 3 when Jesus calls the church to wake up because it is in danger to issue a similar alarm today. For those who are not in a lifeless community than this may not connect with them at present but for so many who are as we move closer and closer to becoming post-christian like the United Kingdom and much of Europe is today we should be weary of our hearts and vigilant with where we place our focus.

  2. patsikora on October 25, 2011 2:14 pm

    Tyler, thanks for your comments. I enjoyed your book. It was well-written and I was delighted to see your generation picking up the call to revitalize the Body of Christ. I struggled as I read it, knowing I wanted to give it an outstanding review, but was repeatedly put off by the zombie image (your generation will probably love it) and mantle on what I also consider “the beauty and power of a church that is on mission for Jesus and focused on Him.” I think you raise a lot of good questions, but none of them are new. (Sad commentary, indeed, on my generation. I think your book can be the source of some great small group discussions. However, I’ve been at this since before you were born and my experience tells me that the ones who get it already got it. Sadly, few are converted to vibrancy or life by telling them how dead they are. It can happen. I wish it would happen. I commend you for trying to stimulate its happening. Many blessings as you spread the word. I’d be interested in comments from other readers. How did it land with you?

  3. Family vacation spots on October 31, 2011 11:32 am

    I really appreciate this post.

  4. Travel Tips on November 7, 2011 2:19 pm

    I couldn’t have really asked for a much better blog. You are always at hand to provide excellent information, going straight away to the point for easy understanding of your subscribers. You’re really a terrific pro in this arena. Many thanks for remaining there humans like me.

  5. Madge on November 21, 2011 5:48 am

    Thank you so much for this arictle, it saved me time!

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