Thursday, December 3, 2009


So, I'm going to recommend a book at the risk of offending a few friends, neighbors and fellow church-goers who may have grown up with a fundamentalist upbringing. The book "churched," written by Matthew Paul Turner gives a child's perspective of being raised in an independent Baptist Church in the Bible Belt, aka God's country.

In 1978, when Matthew was only five, his parents left one denomination to join another, because God was clearly no longer moving at the church they'd been attending. Sound familiar? His story will resonate with those of us who have church hopped even just a little, for the sake of following a preacher, or the moving of the spirit. Matthew never intends to offend with his memoir, only to take friendly jabs here and there as he relates the number of times he ran to the altar rail of salvation and how he was secretly afraid of being alone with the pastor because he was sure that such a man of God could see right through him!

Matthew received his first real haircut (aka the Baptist cut) in a Barber shop when his parents decided to obey one particular church rule. After all he says it was because, "long hair on a woman is glorifying to God, but on a man, it's an abomination." His hair had actually begun to touch his ears! And when he was invited by a friend to attend a mega church's annual Harvest Festival one Sunday, his friend told him, "You'll love it. Please come. God always shows up on Harvest Sunday."

He burned his secular music and toys along with the rest of the youth group because they were "of the devil." No Barbie dolls, He-Man, or Transformers were allowed in this here church! No sir. And certainly not any of that Jesus rock-n-roll (Petra) some people listened to either, uh-uh.

I believe the only reason Matthew is a believer today is because he challenged the status quo. He questioned whether Christianity was about following a set list of rules, or about following Jesus. And because he wrote his memoir with such humor and candor, I can sincerely recommend this book. The title again is "churched," one kid's journey towards God despite a holy mess.

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