Sacrilege, by Hugh Halter: Book Review
Sacrilege is Hugh Halter’s third book after The Tangible Kingdom and And: The Gathered and Scattered Church. The subtitle of Sacrilege is, Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus, and that is precisely what the book challenges us to do. For example, Halter incites churches to design “missional communities” as opposed to small groups. The distinction is that small groups are places for us to belong while missional communities are specifically geared toward helping others–who are outside of the group–belong.
When discussing evangelism, Halter says that the “come to Jesus talk” is not the solution. Rather, evangelism is a process of “subtle wooing”. Halter asks us to:
Consider as a community the challenge of not saying anything about Jesus to your sojourning friends unless asked. No Bible verses or doctrine for an entire year. Instead, replace that religious fervency with service, blessing, and an invitation to join a community where anyone can be real and relaxed and loved and cared about.
And how should we address spiritual thinking outside of the Christian box? Halter says, “Don’t confront them. Instead, encourage their search. At least there is wind in their spiritual sails.”
As you may have guessed by now, the sacrilege in Halter’s book comes in when he calls us to respond to the Gospel by doing things that are seemingly contradictory to our traditions. Instead of saying, “judge the sin not the sinner”, Halter says that Jesus would say, “Don’t judge the sin or the sinner.” The reason is that Jesus will take care of both sin and sinner.
Halter makes the revelation that the average church spends 85 percent of its income on itself on things like salaries, buildings, and programs. He defies this practice by challenging churches to go out to their communities—even on Sunday mornings—to serve the poor and needy. “Our religious rhythms must be to the neighborhoods, communities, and cities we worship in,” says Halter.
This book challenged me to view my Christian mission through the eyes of Jesus. I would encourage you to read Sacrilege and began acting in “sacrilegious”, Jesus-formed ways.