I read “Searching for Sunday” for a book club recently. I have been wanting to read the works of Rachel Held Evans, but life got in the way and distracted me until now. I was not disappointed. She melds her experience growing up in an evangelical church community with the youth groups, each reach opportunities, and community mindedness. As she grew into adulthood, she started to have friction with her community and with the evangelical community in general. This lead to her leaving the church and questioning whether there was a church community that was a place where she would be welcome. Because she is still on a journey, the book does not end with a solid answer, although she does have a church community she does belong to. Instead, she leaves the reader with ideas for where and how church communities can be more open and accepting, reflecting Jesus’s examples in the gospel.
I first came across Rachel Held Evans in 2015 through Twitter. I was following a hashtag and resonated with what she was saying and appreciated her insight and commentary. When I mentioned this to my wife, I learned that I was late to the game. Ms. Held Evans had been blogging and writing books for years before I stumbled across her Tweets. I’m sorry to say that this is the first time I’ve read on of Ms. Held Evans’s books. I wish I could go back in time and read her works so that I could dialogue with her about them. I appreciated that about her. She was open and willing to discuss Christianity, God, religion, what have you on Twitter, her blog, and email. Sadly I missed that opportunity due to her death last year.
Growing up in an evangelical culture, navigating being a Christian teen, then collegian, followed by grad school, I started to have my own questions about faith and how it was expressed in my faith culture. I haven’t physically left, like Ms. Held Evans did, but I have expanded my idea of what I consider “church” and incorporating practices from other traditions into my own practice in order to feel a more sincere connection with God.
It would be easy to think that the conversations Ms. Held Evans began in her works will go quiet, but I’ve seen a renewed energy in the spheres she was a part of to make sure her work and life are not in vain. Life and faith are a journey and it helps to have a community alongside you to celebrate in the good times, grieve with you in the bad, and support you when you’re weak. This book challenges readers to find those communities and be open and willing to see where and how God will you use you. This is a good book club pick because there’s so much to discuss and reflect on.