Rachel Held Evans is a popular blogger and author on Christian spirituality. I don’t always love her blog posts or short articles, but I’ve found many helpful. I have shared her posts via social media (along with everyone else you know). Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church is Evans at her best.
Framed around the Catholic church’s seven sacraments (Baptism, Confession, Holy Orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing the Sick and Marriage), Evans tells of her journey with church. She tells of her evangelical upbringing, her growing church angst, her involvement in planting a missional/emergent type church, her inclusive vision of communion and meal/life sharing, her experience of the Spirit and entering into the wounds of others and how the mystery of marriage images the Kingdom (and the church).
Evans was raised in a conservative evangelical environment. All her books and a good many of her blog posts describe her journey to a more progressive faith. She believes in evolution, argues passionately for inclusion of the LGBTQ community, and reacts strongly against the glitzy mega-church model prevalent in evangelicalism. She also, as her book’s structure indicates, moved in a more sacramental understanding of church.
One of the reasons why Evans is such a compelling and important voice is how honestly she opens up about her journey and shows empathy to the voices and people who have been marginalized by the church. She isn’t a pastor or Bible scholar or theologian. She is a regular person who has struggled with church, theology and spirituality. As somebody who has not made the journey with Rachel to the land of post-evangelicalism, I still consider her an ally and think that she gives voice to what a lot of people feel. People who love the church and have been hurt by it. People who have longed for community and felt excluded. People who tried to walk away from the church but have been drawn back in by the beauty of sacraments and liturgy, on the church’s better days.
I don’t think Evans is right about everything and if I could sit down and have a conversation with Evans I would challenge many of her conclusions. But I appreciate the honesty she has and her journey to the stance she takes. This is a worthwhile read. I give it four stars and recommend it for anyone sorting through what they think of church. I hope that readers of this book will come out the other side to vigorous participation in the local church (as Evans does with the Episcopal church).
Notice of material connection: I received this book from Nelson Books via the Book Look Bloggers program in exchange for my honest review.