As I’ve travelled and met so many readers over the past two years, I kept hearing one question, over and over from people in every context, every denomination, every city. Obviously, we would talk about Jesus Feminist or writing or whatever I had just finished preaching about but then after that, every time, there was one subject everyone wanted to talk about: people want to talk about how I’ve managed to hold onto my faith or what gives me hope as part of the global church. People want to talk about how my faith changed, evolved, and yet strengthened somehow.
Specifically? people have wanted to know why I still go to church.
Usually people ask with tears in their eyes or anger in their voice or a story on their lips. (And if you’ve been at any event where I’ve spoken you already know that I’m a total crier and a hugger so we end up having a big old cry and hug.)
After all, I’ve been open about my struggles and questions with church over the past ten years. I have left church over and over, only to return. I’ve been angry and hurt, I’ve felt excluded and shamed.
And yet I am committed not only to the Church globally but actually really committed to a local church body. Yep, I go to church and the more I go to church, the more I wrestle with church, well, it seems the more I become committed to these small outposts of God’s grace and mercy and kingdom-living.
My greatest wounds have come from church and so it makes holy sense that my great healing has happened there, too.
Imperfect and glorious, frustrating and transformative, I’m a local church girl and I think I always will be. And that baffles some people.
I get that.
I think that’s why I write so much about church here on the blog. I’m still wrestling, still figuring out my place, still figuring out what it means, still reclaiming my heritage while rewriting and trying to live prophetically into what God is doing now.
Like so many of us, I’m still searching for Sunday.
So today I want to tell you about a new book releasing today – Rachel Held Evans’ new book for other searchers, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church.
Rachel has not only been a dear friend to me but she’s saved my faith a time or two (or eight). I believe that her influence and voice in the Church is not only needed right now but, in the future, many will celebrate and honour her as the revolutionary woman of valour she truly is. She’s one for the history books.
Three or four years ago, I happened to hear about a book called Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions.
Humph, rather weird title, I thought. I clicked over to the author’s blog. Well, hello there, Rachel Held Evans, nice to meet you.
Little did I know how that one small click would enrich my life, challenge my faith and intellect, spur my own writing career, introduce me to new thinkers and believers, and bring the gift of a true professional-and-personal friend.
I started off as a commenter and reader, and every comment I left was some variation of “Oh, gracious, you, too? ME, TOO!” Somehow, Rachel found my little corner here on the Internet, we began to correspond, develop a relationship, and now, I consider her a friend and an ally. We often write about similar topics – womanhood or church, for instance. She even wrote the foreword to my little yellow book.
When we met in person last year in Nashville, it was like a reunion.
Yes, we re-enacted a Thelma and Louise photo in the washroom because we’re cool like that.
On the outside, our current daily lives and histories are very different, and yet we had a soul-connection and theological sisterhood. (And a shared snarky sense of humour. And views on marriage.)
Rachel has always genuinely cheered me on with a generous heart. Anyone who likes to harp on the intrinsic jealousy of women needs to meet my friend, Rachel. She’s unselfish and truly believes that her influence comes with responsibility; she makes room for other voices, other experiences, and celebrates freely. She makes me work harder at my craft. She believed I had a voice that was worth hearing, and then she gave me a bit of space on her platform. She makes me think. She makes me laugh. She makes me feel less alone, and less crazy. She points me to Jesus. She’s witty, wise, loyal, and fearless.
I am so blessed by her friendship – professionally and personally.
And as I read her new book, I knew I was in the presence of a great teacher and thinker, contemplative and minister.
I’m not over-stating things when I tell you that this is Rachel’s best book yet—and that’s saying something.
In this beautifully honest, hopeful and wry book, Rachel speaks for so many of us. I believe that her hard-fought words will heal many wounds.
It is a must-read for all who love Jesus but struggle with loving or understanding or finding their place in the Church.
And today is the day Searching for Sunday releases to the world!
I can’t recommend it highly enough and so I’ve decided to give away three copies here.
To enter to win one of three copies of Searching for Sunday:
1. Leave a comment on this post about how you’re searching for Sunday yourself. It can be as long or short as you like, just share a way that you’re finding “church” as you understand it these days.
2. Make sure you leave an email or a way to contact you if you win!
This weekend, I’ll choose three random winners and send you a copy of Rachel’s new book, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church.
Eshet chayil, Rachel! Woman of valour!