Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back into the Body of Christ

Since I’ve become a Christian, I really don’t like zombies.  I used to watch zombie flicks all the time, but they gave me nightmares, and after coming to Christ, I’ve stopped watching horror movies altogether.  But not long ago, I had another zombie nightmare in which God spoke to me very clearly; you can read about it in the post titled: I Hate Zombies.

Anyway after having this dream, I received an email from Kregel Publications inviting me to review a new book called Zombie Church by Tyler Edwards.  Was it sent from God?  After reading the book, I’d say most likely. 

Zombie Church is all about those in the church who claim to be alive in Christ, but act like they’re dead in the world.  It’s a pretty glaringly obvious disconnect that everyone but those who are in this position seems to notice.  The world definitely seems to notice with phrases like “Dear God, please save me from your followers” gaining in popularity among unbelievers.  I think Tyler puts the bullet in the head so to speak in comparing those living in this disconnect to Zombies.

Overall  Edward’s diagnosis of the issues facing the western church was perfect, and his treatment plan of turning to Jesus is the only way to stop the zombie threat.

My one disagreement is the severity of the issue.  Jesus didn’t call people living in this limbo of not quite dead, not quite alive, as sick.  He called them lukewarm, and He said that He would vomit them out of His mouth.  Lukewarmness isn't a sickness; it's a death sentence. The zombies Edwards describes are tares among the wheat that are headed for cremation.  In the Return of the Living Dead, a flick he doesn’t reference, that’s the only way to really stop the zombies.  Is there hope?  Yes.  If Jesus can raise the dead, He can certainly restore the undead.  

But this is the only point where Edwards pulls his punches, everything else is severely convicting, so be forewarned.  Overall, I definitely recommend the book whether you’re a horror movie fan or not.


Tyler Edwards is the lead pastor at Cornerstone Christian Church in Joplin, Missouri, where he works to help people learn how to live like Jesus, love like Jesus, and look like Jesus—so they carry out the mission of Jesus to the world. He graduated from Ozark Christian College with bachelor’s degrees in both Biblical Literature and Christian Ministry. He has written articles for Lookout Magazine, spoken at various campus ministry events in Missouri, and served overseas in Mbale, Uganda.

Tyler loves cheesy horror films. He is particularly fond of movies like Dawn of the Dead, The Signal, and 28 Days Later, where zombies run wild and threaten to infect an entire town. Connect with Tyler on Facebook.

A creative, entertaining approach to resurrecting the undead church. There is something missing in the church today. Stuck in a rut of routines and rituals, the church is caught up in doing what it is “supposed to do” but is lacking the true essence of what it is supposed to provide: life. Real faith--and a real relationship with Jesus--is not about playing by the rules, attending services, and praying before meals. Real faith is more than religion.

Believing there is a way to breathe life back into the church, Tyler Edwards adopts a contemporary and entertaining metaphor--zombies--to highlight and challenge the problematic attitude of today’s believers.

Written for the discouraged, disenfranchised, and anyone unsatisfied with their same-old church routine, Zombie Church challenges readers to turn away from hollow religious practices, which characterize “zombie Christianity,” and turn toward a radical relationship with Jesus.

While other books have addressed legalism in the church, this is the only book that effectively capitalizes on a popular entertainment genre in order to diagnose and correct the problem. Realizing that even his own church is part of that problem, Edwards has written an accessible and often humorous book that will help believers change the Spirit-draining (or life-draining) habits that stop them from achieving a full, fulfilling life in Christ.


Modern Day Disciple said...

I think I would like to read it. Glad you reviewed. It's really hard for the living to be surrounded by the dead. Especially when they give the illusion of life. Major friction. I used to love horror BC, too!

Tyler Edwards said...

It seems to me one of the greatest struggles we face as Christians is finding our identity in the right place. We look to the things of this world: our jobs, titles, accomplishments, awards, friends, family, even opinions of strangers to define us. We let the world decide who we are and how valuable we are. So when we come to church with that attitude the only way we know how to assess ourselves it to compare ourselves to others. So the service becomes a competition of who can make themselves look the best. Jesus doesn’t ask us to look good He asks us to follow Him and allow Him to make us good. Our identity should come from Him. Our value should come from Him. He should be the focus of our lives and the standard by which we judge ourselves. One key way to avoid becoming a zombie: maintain a healthy focus on Jesus.

Stephen Phillip Porter said...

I couldn't have said it better Tyler. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Pam said...


This sounds like a great book that I, too, would love to read.

What a telling comment from Tyler Edwards on your blog: "So the service becomes a competition of who can make themselves look best Jesus doesn't ask us to look good, He asks us to follow Him & allow Him to make us good." So, so true.

And yes, I was a HUGE horror movie fan as well, back in the day. I can't stand them now. My husband and kids love that show, 'Walking Dead.' I cringe when I hear them yelling when it's on. Sigh...

Pam M.

Stephen Phillip Porter said...


I understand the family connection. My dad used to do makeup for monster movies back in the 70's, when I was growing up, we watched every monster movie that came out; zombies were a favorite, but as I grew in Christ, I lost my taste for them. Honestly, I've lost my taste for most movies these days. Real life is so much better with Jesus.

Andrew Bernhardt said...

While not from a zombie movie, the Sixth Sense phrase "I see dead people" fits very well. I usually remind myself of this when I'm with lost friends and strangers out in the world. But your post reminded me it's also true of many in church today. It's a terrible thing to think you're alive when you aren't.

Stephen Phillip Porter said...

Andrew, it's true, and we're called to be a light to them, and share Life with them through Jesus Christ. May we do it with vigor and love.


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