Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stay Away from Zombie Churches

ZOMBIE CHURCH: Breathing Life Back into the Body of Christ by Tyler Edwards

Have you ever been to or been part of a church that seemed alive but yet something of life was missing? Welcome to Zombie church.
The author contends, and rightly so, that many of our churches today are ‘Zombie’ churches. That is churches that have the resemblance of life but are in actuality dead. From a distance they look as though they were alive but upon closer inspection they have lost their connection to life: Jesus Christ.

The author says,”…that many churches in America have lost sight of their purpose. It is this loss of purpose that turns our churches into Zombie churches.” Is it possible to know if my church is a ‘zombie church’? The author says we need to ask ourselves this question, “If the church closed its doors would anyone from the outside even notice?”

From there the author goes into and expounds upon some of the characteristics that resemble Zombie churches. The author says that the church has lost its motivation. We act out of duty instead of love. Love for God and neighbor. He says that it is the zombie churches that do a lot of damage in the world and make Christians look bad. They focus upon a lot of things that are not Jesus and that the ultimate cure for zombiism is life that comes from love.

3 particular areas that I thought the author touched upon, and wish he would have spent more pages on was his words regarding the churches laziness. He summed that area up with these words, “The danger of spiritual laziness is that it corrupts the atmosphere and function of the church.” Using the passage of 2Thess. 3:6-15, a passage that we don’t hear much preaching on.
The second area he mentioned was a sociological condition called, ‘narcotizing dysfunction’. “The idea is that the more we become informed, the less active we become. We mistake knowing about something and even discussing it as actually doing something about it.” Thus we can rationalize not doing anything, because we have talked about it and we are informed about it. How many of our churches talk more about evangelizing etc. than actually doing it?
A third area he mentioned a number of times was about the bad influence of ‘zombie’ Christians and how they tend to make us like them. Yet he never mentioned how we could extinguish, get rid of, or excommunicate those zombies from our midst in a loving way.

A couple problems I had with the book. This book is by no means a scholarly or academic book, by the way it is written I would assume the author, who is also a pastor, tends to be more of a exhorter than a expositor. The chapters seem to run into each other, what I mean by that, is that the author seems to never totally exhaust one chapter. He refers to the same subjects throughout the book, thus making it about 50 pages longer than it needed to be. Also I am not sure for whom the book is written for, a new convert, excited about his new found life, would not recognize that the church had any problems. A cold, should I say ‘zombie christian’, would probably not want to take the time to read it.

Friday, December 09, 2011



The author, who has held a number of church positions in India and the UK, has done a good job showing the inconsistencies between what a scriptural church is versus what our modern, at least American, church has become. He rightly decries the disillusionment that many have with Christianity by defining it as ‘Churchianity’. His argument is that we must move away from a institutional form of Christianity so that we can rightly represent Jesus to non-Christians.

He begins his argument by showing the unity of God (God is 3 persons but of one essence), the unity of man and the relation between the 2. From there he moves to the fact that each individual is the church and that no one person is more important than another. That the church is not a building, but people. He makes a biblical case for the priesthood of all believers, that all are ministers and not just a select few.

His most interesting (and unique) argument was how we have paganized our concept of the sermon. He says that the NT church was more into “the interactive study of the Word of God” but has now been “ replaced by the Greek Monologue/ Homily”. Thus replacing substance with style, form for content. In the synagogue sermons were not monologue but open for discussion and interaction. The author makes the distinction between teaching and preaching with this quote by C.H. Dodd, “New Testament draws a clear distinction between preaching (kerygma) and teaching (didache)…. Teaching is in a large majority of cases ethical instructions. Preaching, on the other hand, is public proclamation of Christianity to the non-Christian world….while the Church was concerned to hand on the teaching of the Lord, it was not by this (didache teaching) that it made converts. It was by preaching (kerygma).”

The author says the NT church knows nothing of a monologue sermon and this is best evidenced by our lack of spiritual growth, “we witness the adverse effects of this practice - the people neither grow in the Word nor into maturity, but remain spiritual babes.”
The authors point is that preaching is for the unbelievers and that teaching is for the believers. If that is the case, and I would agree with the author, we sure have it turned upside down and my only question/concern is if it would ever be made right.

Though the author does not use history to back up his claims, it easily does. The Salvation Army began by preaching to people out in the streets and my own groups’ founder, John Wesley, began preaching in the fields to the coal miners. Then once they were converted brought them into groups (churches) to teach them.

My only problem with this book is the authors’ own vocational position. It seems that he holds or has held many church offices, which, I assume, he was paid and made his living. Yet he seems to discourage this type of ministry, even using and pushing the tent making ministry of Paul as the proper example of Christian ministry.