In Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess, Matthew Paul Turner presents a tragic memoir of what happens when churches fail to practice the gospel. The book is the story of his childhood in church, which he described as fundamentalist.
In these fundamentalist churches, every thing took a fundamental place except for the gospel. There was a deep desire to see people converted to faith in Christ, but these conversions were brought on by fear instead of love. In one story, Turner recounts the time a Sunday school teacher burned a Barbie doll in front of the class in order to represent the horrors of hell for those who fail to become Christians. This is a very problematic approach to evangelism, which may get children to pray a prayer but will also scar them for life.
The memoir presents many similar stories from Turner’s time in church. He recounts the stories in a very humorous manner, but the disturbing nature of the stories remains. The book ends with a story of Turner’s hesitation to meet with a pastor for coffee as an adult due to his childhood experiences in church.
Churched is a challenging reminder for churches and pastors to keep the main thing – the gospel – as the focus of ministry. Christians must be aware that it is God who sets the priorities in the church and that His goals and gospel should remain central.