Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church

by Rachel Held Evans

Paperback, 2015



Call number




Thomas Nelson (2015), 288 pages


Christian Nonfiction. Religion & Spirituality. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML: Are you struggling to connect with your church community? Do you find yourself questioning the core beliefs that you once held dear? Searching for Sunday, from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Held Evans is a heartfelt ode to the past and a hopeful gaze into the future of what it means to be a part of the modern church. Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn't want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals??to her, it was beginning to feel like church culture was too far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing Evans back to church. Evans found herself wanting to better understand the church and find her place within it, so she set out on a new adventure. Within the pages of Searching for Sunday, Evans catalogs her journey as she loves, leaves, and finds the church once again. Evans tells the story of her faith through the lens of seven sacraments of the Catholic church??baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, the anointing of the sick, and marriage??to teach us the essential truths about what she's learned along the way, including: Faith isn't just meant to be believed, it's meant to be lived and shared in community Christianity isn't a kingdom for the worthy??it's a kingdom for the hungry, the broken, and the imperfect The countless and beautiful ways that God shows up in the ordinary parts of our daily lives Searching for Sunday will help you unpack the messiness of community, teaching us that by overcoming our cynicism, we can all find hope, grace, love, and, somewhere in between,… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member staciec
I have enjoyed Rachel Held Evans' writings for quite a while, so I was really excited to hear about Searching for Sunday, and I wasn't disappointed! Her experience in evangelical Christianity (AWANA for the win!) strongly mirrors my own, and her vulnerability, hope, and grace throughout her
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wrestlings were inspiring.

The sections mirror the seven sacraments: Baptism, Confession, Holy Orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing the Sick, and Marriage. All seven spoke to me-- her eloquence drew out the beauty found in each--but the most surprising was Confirmation. As someone raised in a thoroughly evangelical/non-denominational tradition, I've had very little interaction with confirmation in any sense. Maybe it was because of this lack of familiarity that this section really hit me; regardless of the reason, though, I highlighted, starred, and exclamation-pointed about half of that section, and I continue to mull on it. I'm sure I'll reread the entire book many times, but that section in particular will likely draw me back incessantly.

I really resonated with and appreciated Rachel's loving way of criticizing aspects of her experience with evangelicalism. Speaking of churches, she says, "Each one stays with us, even after we've left, adding layer after layer to the palimpsest of our faith." Rachel manages to eloquently and completely lift up church while addressing some serious problem areas.

After reading this book, I feel more connected both the church universal and with others on their faith journey, and I am more prepared to recognize the importance of faith in community. Christianity is a team sport, and the sacraments, formal or not so formal, help us to participate more fully in that.

I received an advance copy of this book in return for a review.
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LibraryThing member jennybek
I've been a fan of Rachel's for a while, and was so excited about the release of this new book. I relate so well to not feeling like I fit in the average church, and this book captures Rachel's journey with church. I love that she never loses hope or faith in the Church, always determined that we
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must do this thing together or not at all. There are times when I'm ready to just chuck it all, and her ever hopeful grace is quite inspiring. Well done. I can see many important conversations coming out of this work.
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LibraryThing member gentlespirit512
The day my advanced reader's copy arrived at my door, I told my writing group, "I think this book is going to shake my world up." I started reading it that night and put it down after a couple of chapters. I don't know what the resistance was, but since I knew that today was Launch Day and I'm on
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the Launch Team, I sat down tonight to finish it. I got through it in one quick sitting. My heart is still feeling tender, and I'll try to get through this review without getting too emotional. First of all, I knew that Rachel was a LGBT supporter, but reading about her interactions with LGBT people, especially a friend who got baptized after a long wait and a church that decided to close its doors rather than cast out a lesbian couple to please their denomination (in Canada, of all places!) and the Gay Christian Network conference put balm on the heart of this ex-Southern Baptist who came out 13 years ago and hasn't found her own church home since. Other than that, she structured the book in a way that may not be completely obvious, but makes a subtle kind of sense as you follow her lead. I did receive a copy from the Launch Team, and I'm thankful. But I received another one from NetGalley, and I would have read this book no matter what. This is my honest, from the heart, review.
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LibraryThing member kellyraesanders
I have been a fan of Rachel's writing for a couple of years, and eagerly anticipated the release of Searching For Sunday. I was not disappointed! Reading through it the first time (I am now re-reading it!) there were so many "me, too!" moments. Rachel Held Evans has a style of writing that is very
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easy to read without being simplistic. I really appreciated how she divided the sections of the book into the Sacraments. What I love most about this book, and Rachel's other books, is the undeniable fact that we can be followers of Jesus, yet not be completely in agreement with every doctrine in every church. Highly recommend this book!
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LibraryThing member Al-G
“This is what’s most annoying and beautiful about the windy Spirit and why we so often miss it. It has this habit of showing up in all the wrong places and among all the wrong people, defying our categories and refusing to take directions.”

This is a wonderful book because love it or hate it,
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agree with Rachel or disagree, it will make you think (if you are honest with yourself) about faith and the way we practice it. Structured around the seven sacraments she explores the nature of church, what it means to be church, and what it means to embrace the gospel and follow Jesus as well as what it means to doubt. Well worth the read.
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LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
The book is partly biographical, charting the author's journey from the passionate evangelical faith of a child, through disillusionment, anger, sadness, and leaving behind Sunday services for some years. It tells us of her college days, of some of her friends, of her marriage… and eventual
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leadership within a very different kind of church from the one she grew up in.

It’s structured in seven main sections, each one entitled by one of the sacraments recognised by many liturgical churches. That might sound very formal, but more than anything these are used as structures on which to spread the story in a way that makes the path easy to follow. It flows beautifully, and the writing style was exactly right for me: it expresses, very often, things I have thought or felt, but have somehow not been able to put into words.

I would recommend this to anyone who questions fundamentalist style evangelicalism, or rigidity of doctrine, or indeed who has difficulties with the upbeat nature or exclusivity of so many churches.
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LibraryThing member Katya0133
This book came highly recommended and it lived up to those recommendations and more. Anyone who has ever had a complicated relationship with the church will find a kindred spirit in Evans.
LibraryThing member bness2
What a delightful book. I so much appreciate Rachel's honesty about her rocky path with the church. I dare say that more people that will ever admit it have had many of the same doubts and negative experiences as Rachel talks about in this memoir. It is refreshing to hear such honesty and
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authenticity from a Christian writer.
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LibraryThing member Emma_Manolis
I've been struggling with my own faith and relationship to my church for several years now. It's a lonely journey and there need to be more books like this about such journeys. My background is not the same as the authors, but I saw so much of my struggle and my thoughts reflected back in many of
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her words.

It's difficult to be constructive about a piece that is so incredibly personal, but my one issue would likely be that the author goes off on some tangents, that, quite frankly, I ended up skimming. The book could have been much more concise and would have had the same impact on me. Overall, this book leaves me feeling comforted and leaves me with a better understanding of where this leaves me.
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LibraryThing member John_Warner
American Christian columnist Rachel Held Evans' memoir is a reflection on the church today through the theological lens of the following sacraments: baptism, confession, ordination, Eucharist, confirmation, anointing the sick, and marriage. She addresses the reasons from her personal experiences
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what millennials want from a church community and why some shun the traditional church. This book is an easy read with many spiritual insights.
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LibraryThing member nonesuch42
I don’t know how it happens, but Rachel Held Evans always manages to say exactly what I’m thinkling, but with less rambling than I would. So beware, this is going to be rambling. I’ve pretty much always gone to church. Not just one church. Lots. And all have given me something. Each has
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changed and shaped my life. And that is really What this book was about. How churches, in all their human folly and mistakes, are still able to shape and improve our lives.Everyone has problems with their church: not enough young people, not enough serious Bible study, not enough respect for tradition, too much reliance on tradition. But Searching for Sunday doesn't dwell on the problems. It's a celebration of the good things and important things the Church can give. Somehow, this book has struck a chord in a different crowd than Evans' other books. Before, it seemed like evangelicals and "recovering evangelicals" had heard of her or had opinions about her. But I found this book on my grandma's coffee table a couple weeks after it came out, and people in her Episcopal church had been reading it. What churches are for and how they do their thing are important questions for all Christians, and Evans is a master as creating bridges between people. Whether it's progressives and evangelicals or the young and the elderly, this book has an important message of connection for us all.
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LibraryThing member AthenaAcademy
Searing in its honesty and vulnerability, Searching For Sunday chronicles Rachel Held Evans' search for authentic community inside and outside the church of her childhood.
LibraryThing member smallself
“We don’t want a fog machine.” Although it’s tricky to speak for other people, because for a lot of people, work makes a great idol. That or a fog machine, right, or whatever group does the best imitation of Duran Duran.

I think she’s right though. As much as I don’t like throwing
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people under the bus—*throws the guy who did The Message under the bus*—a hip Bible translation isn’t a substitute for a gracious theology. Some people think that if they get a worship band with a drummer, thoughtful young people will get behind the Trump agenda and go to a conservative church. Some people also think that as long as the service and message seem contemporary, they can fit Jesus in when it seems easy and convenient. As much as I love Tenth Avenue North, it’s not just about making church easy.

I used to want to take a dump on the church every time that I saw, or was reminded of, any Christian bigot I happened to know, but over time I have gradually Christianized, (like with Europe, it took awhile), and now I try to express my desire for justice and grace using Christian language. It doesn’t mean that I’m never momentarily upset, but I’m happy with my Lord, even if I don’t always understand his purposes.

I think that Rachel Held Evans is a lot like me, or I’m a lot like her, or we both descend from a common ancestor. (If there were twice as many hours in a day, I’d read a lot more science.) She’s my older brother's age, you know. It’s not about me, though. Because as fascinating as it is to share something with a contemporary American, the desire for a transcendent experience in Christ is a more mighty bond to share. As much as I don’t want to throw someone under the bus—*throws a famous American Victorian under the bus*— I don’t want the message of my life to be, “He thought it was all about himself, just like Emerson thought it was all about Emerson.” (I’m also throwing yet another person under the bus, another semi-alienated died-young Southern memoirist girl like Rachel, the one who wrote the Emerson memoir, Nina Riggs.) It’s not about bonding over a common personality type or schooling or something. I’m being so mean, but I wonder if that kind of bonding is just cold people keeping warm.

“That’s fascinating, but I have a thirty-nine question test you have to pass before you can get into heaven.” I say all this understanding that the old guard isn’t going to meet me halfway, you know. But life isn’t about giving to get.

The world doesn’t really need any one person, nor is any isolated individual sufficient in themselves. But with the help of our God, together we can have our heart warmed, and serve. I believe that Rachel Held Evans served her community. She was a brief candle that burned bright, what we can all hope to be, even imitating her as she imitated Christ.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
Evans is brutally honest about her struggles in her faith. She wrestles with the strong belief she had as a youth taking a hit as she questions the exclusive and sometimes abusive aspects of some churches. She talks about changing churches, starting one, speaking at Christian conferences, and
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finding that faith is less about religion and more about finding a home with God because the Holy Spirit is within you, not within the church walls.

“But the gospel doesn’t need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” This isn’t a kingdom for the worthy; it’s a kingdom for the hungry.”

“I’ve been convinced that LGBT Christians have a special role to play in teaching the church how to be Christian.”
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LibraryThing member DrFuriosa
I decided to re-read this for my book club, and it was exactly the sort of spiritual healing I needed. I have so many doubts about church, and hearing them expressed by someone else relieves my burden. This book analyzes what happens when you leave a congregation, lose your faith, and find it
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again. It's made even more poignant in light of Evans' unexpected death this year.
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LibraryThing member spinsterrevival
Well this was gorgeous. It was funny and sad and beautiful, and it’s heartbreaking knowing that the author passed away so young and can’t bring any more amazing words into the world. I want to read her other writings so will continue with those until I run out and perhaps start this again.
LibraryThing member 4leschats
Using the sacraments and her own stories, Evans explores the beautiful mess of church, worship, and faith. At times confessional and other lyrical, she calls us to trust our faith even in the midst of doubt.
LibraryThing member ms_rowse
I started this book back in January, reading it here and there during church when I started to feel anger or hurt or disconnection during worship services. Then this week I decided to finish it (I had only made it through about a third on those random Sundays).

I highlighted so many sentences and
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paragraphs and bookmarked so many pages--this book is a wonderful treatise on what it means to be a Christian and why finding a church is important. This gave me renewed hope in my own faith tradition and my approach to worshipping each Sunday.
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Physical description

288 p.; 8.5 inches




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