This week, I received a copy of Zach Bartel’s book, Kinda Christianity. It’s a cynically humerus discussion of the Emergent Church movement that is sure to offend some and to make many others laugh. But, that’s not to say it doesn’t bring up some really good points.
Zach’s style is rather biting. The book is modeled as a satirical “guide” explaining how to be the leader of an emergent style church. It includes useful tips such as shopping at Urban Outfitters and the requirement to buy all electronics at the Mac store – or else. Starbucks is to be your new home – as long as you aren’t seen there with a Bible – and no discussions of theology are allowed.
Concerning the layout of an emergent church he gives the following advice:
It’s important that your church not look anything like a church, and in fact should not even be called a church (see also: names of things). It should look more like an abandoned meat-packing plant, complete with lots of exposed brick and ductwork. Big steel doors are nice.
He constantly advocates devotion to Bono as well as “Anyone Else Who Makes You Feel Bad About Being White and Affluent.”
The cover of the book is a clever parody of A New Kind of Christianity by Brian D. McLaren.
The weakness of this book is also its strength; not everyone will appreciate the biting humor with which Bartels exposes the problems the Emergent movement. Some might even feel insulted. (Of course, that might be because they never learned to laugh at themselves.) I liked this book more and more as I read through the chapters, and I think his description of Emergent church leaders as young white hipsters maintaining a post-modern image to be a spot on. (Likewise, your welcome to laugh at me for sitting in the same pew in my Southern Baptist church ever since I joined.)
So, this approach is debatable, and the highly cynical style takes some getting used to at first. But I really think that Bartels has written a good discussion of the problems of the Emergent church movement in an entertaining format. It might get under your skin if you are an Emergent type yourself, but the discussion points are worth consideration. You can purchase it here for a very low price.
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