I’ll begin this blog post by saying this post will deal with religion, talking about my experience as a Christian due to the contents of the book I read. Though I usually don’t speak to my faith much, it’s a part of what I have to say about this particular read.
So, I debated a lot about what to read for this challenge. I thought about historical fiction, but I eventually settled on counting the memoir I had picked up. After all, it’s based on the writer’s real stories, and since so many of them rang true for me that seemed like a good option. So I selected Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans.
Evans uses her book as a chance to discuss the growing decline in church attendance, especially the rapid abandonment by her fellow millennials. Her book neither denies this problem nor condemns it. In fact, it doesn’t even offer really hard hitting solutions. But it describes her own faith journey and covers the beautiful sacraments of the church, leaving a sense of hope that there is something to be found on Sunday morning, even with all the failures of the church.
I first heard of Rachel Held Evans my sophomore year of college, at which time I was already deep in the midst of the journey she so poignantly describes in her book. Like Evans, I’d grown up in a faithful evangelical family, regularly attending church. I was in the worship band, taught Sunday school, and went to youth group and Bible study alongside a Christian club at school. Everything about my faith felt solid. Unshakable. And then college happened.
I had heard the statistics. 3 in 5 youths walk away from the church sometime after they turn 15. But I never believed I would contribute to those. I was determined that I had too much faith for that, especially since I’d decided to attend a Christian college. But it was college itself that somehow set me on the same course as many other people in my generation.
I had professors who made me actually question things. For once I didn’t have people telling me answers, but instead had those who were actively trying to find answers instead. Within just a short semester, I already felt frustrated. My inability to be feminist and Christian, or to actually confront my doubts around my fellow believers, or to feel like the people around me were actually carrying out their faith instead of actively practicing hypocrisy.
Evans came as a chapel speaker, and I gravitated towards her immediately. She had great ideas, and she spoke to me greatly about not needing to feel like we had all the answers as Christians. I remember some of my peers were upset by what she preached, but to me, it was just what I needed to hear. And this was why I was excited when I saw she had a new book out.
So, now that I’ve explained my personal attachment to the book, I’ll just jump in to the actual contents. I felt that this was a really enjoyable read, and was something that continued to make me think about what I want to find on my Sunday mornings that I feel so many churches are missing. Evans has a good way of blending humor and personal stories into accounts that deal with tough theological matters. And it’s so refreshing to see a book about millennials that doesn’t account for all of our flaws as simply being laziness, irrationality, or apathy (probably with a bit of technology addiction thrown in too). Evans did a great job of making me reflect and think, while connecting with me on what I’d already experienced.
I highly recommend this book to anyone like myself who’s been struggling with faith. As I said in a past blog post, questioning and doubting are good things, and I certainly am not someone to condemn them. For that reason, I definitely want to encourage fellow questioners to find some material written just for them.