Erwin McManus believes that organized Christianity is preventing people from learning about Christ. However paradoxical it sounds, most of us who have gone (or stopped going) to church must concede that he has a point.
McManus came to Christ as a young adult on his own. Instead of being raised and indoctrinated in the church, he was drawn in by the radical love, wisdom, courage, and limitless possibilities that Jesus embodies. But, when he began to socialize with Christians, he found that too often, these things took a back seat to the programming and politics of the church as an institution.
What I loved most about this book is the reminder that it is all right to be yourself as you follow Christ. We can’t let the morays of the “religious club” dictate the direction of our spiritual walk. There is no right way to sing or to serve except the way you feel moved to do so. The author is not disrespectful of church or God–he is simply in favor of letting church be spirit-led instead of allowing an artificial culture to develop and coercing others to buy in.
This book was another reminder not to listen too much to what others are saying. That is always a tough balance to strike, especially for a religious leader. I know the importance of seeking advice, listening to elders, etc. Still, a lot of my vision for Zion Hill and greater Christendom involves things that have never been done before–radical things that I can’t let people talk me out of trying.
If you long for a deeper relationship with Christ that allows you to be yourself, read “The Barbarian Way” by Erwin McManus. But even if you don’t get around to it, just remember that your personal relationship with God is unique and it will take you to some places that seem crazy at times. Don’t be afraid, and don’t fall back in to group-think. If, after praying and weighing all options and advice, you feel compelled to do a particular thing, do it. No one can promise you that you’ll succeed every time or even that you won’t feel any pain. But, as you continue to move according to God’s purpose, things will ultimately work out for the best. Keep the faith.