Over the summer holidays, my church’s book club has been on a break, which has left me at a loose end when it comes to my faith reading. So I decided to take up Kelly’s recommendation to read Christian non-fiction Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by popular, Christian author and blogger, Rachel Held Evans, that was published back in 2015.
In Searching For Sunday, Evans shares, in sharp honesty, how she grew up as part of a tight knit Evangelical church, in the USA’s ‘Bible Belt’. Through her teens she had a real zeal for her faith and sharing it, however when she reached her mid-twenties she found herself in crisis: like many of her millennial peers, she just didn’t want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, politics, big budgets, scandals and a culture that seemed far removed from Jesus, left her feeling cynical, angry and apathetic. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it.
Centred around the seven sacraments, Evans’ charts her long, difficult quest talking to different Christians and trying many different churches to her readers through a liturgical year, with a variety of stories about baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death, that are funny, heart-breaking, and inspiring. I really sympathised with Evans objection to the bar on women’s ordination; the exclusion of LGBTQ+ people and the complete denial of science. However I couldn’t really relate to her anger, because I didn’t grow up in the Church. Instead, in my early twenties, I chose my own church, which is an open, welcoming, liberal church.
I have seen some criticism of this book, which accuses Evans of not sticking to ‘true’ Biblical teaching and for succumbing to modern thoughts and fads, but I couldn’t disagree more. In fact, I would say Evans is instead calling for a simpler form of Church – much like the Apostles and the first Christians formed – where ALL were welcomed to share fellowship, food, communion and their troubles at a communal, communion table. Free of the different human prejudices, traditions, culture and denominations, that have grown up since the early days and now threaten to take over from the true, simple meaning of Jesus’ Good News.
Overall, I thought Searching For Sunday was an honest, heartfelt exploration of one woman’s struggles with the present-day Church; the hard journey she took to understand and overcome cynicism about Church and to find her place in it. Being both critical and hopeful this was a really thought-provoking book. I will definitely be looking out for more of her books to read.* Great read.
Now over to you: Have you read this? What do you think? Have you read anything else by Rachel Held Evans?
*After finishing this, I was very sad to hear that Rachel sadly died earlier this year from a sudden allergic reaction to medication given to her for an infection. God’s love and blessings upon her family and friends.