Book Notes: Reappearing Church by Mark Sayers

Reappearing Church is the second of four books I am recommending from my reading in 2019.

Is Christianity in the Western world doomed? Is the Church on life support with certificate of death being written as we speak? Is the sky falling? If you listen to commentators and commoners alike, you will hear various versions of this all over the Western Church. In his brilliant book, Reappearing Church, Mark Sayers asks a very daring question, “What if what looks like decline in the Church is actually the beginning of a spiritual reawakening?”

Sayers, an Australian pastor, has influenced me greatly in the last three years through his speaking in writing. This book is his best yet. He has uses a unique mix of historical research, cultural insight and a high view of Scripture and the Holy Spirit. If you want a book that faces the realities of the Church head on, that looks back at the guidance of Church history and leaves you desperate for more of God. This is the book. If you want a book that says, “It’s more dire than you think and that is why we should have so much hope.” This is the book. If you want a book that will open your eyes to Western culture and convict you personally about your complicity in it, this is the book.

At less than 200 pages, this book is a voice that cuts through all the noise and lifts our eyes to the narrow path forward. To give whet your appetite for more, here is my sampling of some of my favorite thoughts.

On the future of faith in a Secular world: “Many religious believers are (assuming) defeat, seeing religions only option for survival in submitting to the authority of the secularist script, believing that the only hope for renewal lies in reinterpreting faith around progressive beliefs” (pg. 23)

“A church and a faith built upon the framework of radical individualism can only last so long.” (pg. 53)

On living in Western Culture: “We are drowning in freedoms but thirsting for meaning” (pg. 68)

“tribalism has returned to our culture both in the identity politics of the left and the return to nationalism on the right… this dynamic is pushing us further into isolation or digital silos of like-minded people.” (pg. 69)

“Secularism is the attempt to create a system for human flourishing in which the presence of God is absent.” (pg. 83)

“The Western life system has formed us in a particular way that creates people who resist the move of God in subconscious ways. The average Westerner is a radical individualist who is deeply afraid of compromising their autonomy. He or she determines their self-worth and identity primarily horizontally, via the media, culture, or peers. We are shaped by the passive -aggressive tone of consumerism, where we want maximum say with minimum responsibility. We are shaped primarily by our fluid and ever-shifting feelings. We yearn for community and connection, yet fear commitment and consistency. We wish for justice while desiring hedonistic payoffs. We religiously point fingers at others while jealously guarding our own right to do as we please.” (pg. 123-124)

“Consumer Christianity is a form of cultural Christianity that compromises the cross with self… mixing the worship of God with the worship of options, personal autonomy, low commitment, and having an opinion over having responsibility” (pg. 138)

We believe the myth that we can “find a life of meaning in the avoidance of difficulty. Renewal always springs from the desert; the presence is encountered in the wilderness.” (pg. 141)

“We need a great awakening where Christians are influential without being influenced.” (pg. 188)