Matthew Paul Turner’s Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess engages you from the get go. I am going to have to assume that if one to were read this with no church background at all, they would definitely leave the reading thinking the Baptists are all crackpots. But, if you have had any type of upbringing in the church you will be smirking a whole lot, unless of course you are a pure bred fundamentalist with no sense of humor. That would probably be the kind of person Turner hopes would read this and see themselves in it.

I grew up in a very small Methodist church in nowhere Wisconsin. I had the unfortunate belief of nothing. I just couldn’t get past Jesus being the core of great stories, just like Santa and Rudolph were. If I would have been transplanted from my comfortable church setting to the intense fundamentalist Baptist setting of the author, I kind of think I would have been way messed up. It took me a long time not to be messed up as it was.

As, the modern age of church evolves I think it is this type of reflection, on one’s perspective of the church growing up, that we can all learn from.  The bottom line is as Turner takes reveals his own messed up mind growing up the church we see one prevailing factor. In a fundamentalist church you have to live up to the rules of the church and the love the Lord is something that just doesn’t seem to exist. It is hard to love something you are terrified of.

When church is nothing but dressing up, having the appropriate hairstyle, witnessing out of guilt and fear, every sermon is a ‘get out of hell’ motivational speech, and a fearing of when the age of accountability is church becomes wearisome and scary.

Now, my words might make this book sound depressing. It is not. It is a blast. It is articulately funny. Turner taps into every stereotype of the church we have seen or have been. Through his narrative he makes us reflect on things we have done or wondered about in church and makes it OK to do so.  He covers the gamut. Door to door evangelism, what TV shows we ‘can’t’ watch, sleeping through sermons, spotting sin, etc.

We Christians can do a lot of things to get ourselves stereotyped and Turner’s perspective of his dad is a great example….“ There were times when I envied my father for having the right personality to be a Baptist. He was stubborn, could be cold-minded toward anything that wasn’t his idea, and was fully convinced that Pentecostals were a bunch of nut jobs.” Funny? Yes. Convicting? Yes. Remind you of someone you know? Definitely.

I highly recommend the book. It is an easy, enjoyable read, that will remind you that loving the Lord is the beauty of responding to His grace. And it so much easier to love grace than fear condemnation.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Read the first chapter here: h


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