Vic Cuccia had a cushy ministry job at a popular mega-church but realized something was amiss. He had bought into the commodified, American-Dream-Infected vision of life in ministry which said BIGGER is better and MEGA is majorly better. He had bought into the idea that in order to minister to the people who were coming to his church, people in a certain tax bracket, than he needed to keep up a certain standard of living, have a nice home, drive a nice car, etc. And then he had an uh-huh moment and realized that somewhere along the way his Americanized/commodified vision of the gospel was compromised in several respects.
Now Cuccia is the leader of a small community (around 75 people) and has started 12X12 Love Project, a ministry which builds homes for the needy in Guatemala. Steeple Envy is his story of learning to see and discovering that as he unplugged from the mega-church, he saw just how prosperity infected and off base it was. Far from building his own empire, Cuccia is now engaged in extending the mission of God to those in his community and abroad. They are moving out, trusting in God to provide and seeing that provision in miraculous ways.
But please note that this not a book that is bent of criticizing mega churches per say. Some of Cuccia’s heros are or were mega church pastors (i.e. Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, etc.). He isn’t saying a big sized church is necessarily bad; what he is saying is that in his own experience on being on staff with a mega church, he got off track in his understanding of the gospel getting caught up in the cultural trappings in that setting. This is his story about re-discovering what it means to live faithful to his calling as a minister of the gospel.
I liked this book. I really liked the first half of the book where he confronts the soul deadening elements of his ecclesial life. The title chapter (chapter six) talks about ‘Steeple Envy’ and the whole temptation towards Christian empire building. Cuccia’s critique is profound if laden with double entendres The second half the book is good, and it is interesting to see how Cuccia’s re-thinking of how to do church has led him to lead a community which gives sacrificially and is delightfully not polished. Cuccia left a successful ministry job to work on the margins in ways that he felt were more faithful to the gospel. I am grateful that he saw fit to share some of the insights he’s gained on his journey.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.