|A Brief Review of
By Tyler Edwards
Reviewed by Brian Johnson.
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, i.e., churches that have the resemblance of life but are actually dead. From a distance they look as though they are 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, Edwards goes into and expounds upon some of the characteristics that define Zombie churches. The author says that the church has lost its motivation. We act out of duty instead of love, love for God and for 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 zombie-ism is life that comes from love.
There are three particular areas that the author explored, and I wish he would have spent more pages on. The first was his words regarding the church’s laziness. He summed up his thoughts here, “The danger of spiritual laziness is that it corrupts the atmosphere and function of the church.” Here he uses the passage, 2Thess. 3:6-15, a section of scripture on which we don’t often hear much preaching.
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, discipling, 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.
There are 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, 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 was written, 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.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com