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Church of The Small Things is the latest book from blogger and author Melanie Shankle. I’ve read two out of three of Shankle’s previous books (Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room) and have found them to be delightful, hilarious and very relatable. Like her other books, Church of the Small Things is autobiographical and unlike her other books, it contains more of her personal life philosophy, which is from whence she derives the title of the book.
Philosophically, Church of the Small Things is about being faithful in the little things and how much good can come from the small moments even though we often think, and long for, what comes of big ones. It’s also about how it is the small moments that, when strung together, form a life, rather than the big ones.
Shankle is a Christian so her philosophy is shaped by her beliefs, but as you will read in Church of the Small Things, not all of these beliefs are Biblically accurate. In this book I also noticed that she mentions some of the female Christian teachers she knows and has learned from which was a minor concern for me (minor because the book isn’t a theological expose at heart, but still worth mentioning because wrong theology is dangerous). I’m not about throwing out the baby with the bath water but I desire for women to really know who God is and to do that, we must look to His word, the Bible.
Here are some of the minor concerns I have with Church of the Small Things:
- There are many pages in the book in which Shankle mentions receiving direct revelation from God by feeling and hearing His voice. We know from Scripture that God doesn’t speak to us outside of the Bible (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18). Additionally, no where in Scripture are believers instructed to learn how to hear God’s voice.
- Pg. 25, “He used those jobs to get me to San Antonio, which is where I learned to hear his voice when I was all alone, met my husband, figured out I loved to write, and am now raising my family. “
- Pg. 146, in reference to listening to the song Oceans, by Hillsong United, Shankle stated, “As I listened – really listened – I felt God say to me, ‘You feel like this is too much because you’re trying to figure out how to do it in your own power, and none of this is about you.'”
- Pg. 213, “At that moment, I felt God speak to my heart, saying, ‘You need to quit asking ‘Why?’ and start asking me ‘Where?’ I knew immediately it was God because I wouldn’t have come up with anything that profound.”
- Shankle uses The Message paraphrase of the Bible (Pgs. 53, 106) along with other versions. These are the reasons why I have great concerns with The Message. Additionally, when I see The Message used it is often because the paraphrase fits well with whatever is being communicated but doesn’t actually remain true to the context the verses were originally written in, or the author’s intended meaning of those verses.
- On page 143, Shankle mentions she taught a workshop on blogging at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference. Proverbs 31 Ministries is headed up by Lysa Terkeurst who has authority teaching over men in her church, which is unbiblical, and she also claims to receive direct revelation from God (see more here). This was a concern to me because what I’ve seen produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries and Lysa Terkeurst has been, thus far, unbiblical.
- On page 216, Shankle uses the unbiblical means of Scripture translation known as eisegesis to explain Zechariah 2:4-5. Reflecting on the passage, she states, “I believe God wants to make our city – our lives – so big that walls can’t contain it. His idea of big is so different from ours.” When reading Zechariah 2:4-5 in context of all of Zechariah Chapter Two, it is clear that the verses aren’t referring to the greatness of the lives of individual believers but God’s care for His people, specifically Jerusalem. We can know from this verse, God’s character in that He cares for those who have turned from their sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation. The term “walls” isn’t a metaphor for our lives, it is referencing actual city walls.
The bulk of Church of the Small things is the retelling of small moments in Shankle’s life that left a big impression and have shaped her into who she is today. As I read these, I laughed, I (almost) cried and often thought, “Me too!” If you are looking for a book that is clean, relatable and laugh out loud funny, look no further than Church of The Small Things (as well as Shankle’s other works). Overall, I truly enjoyed Church of the Small Things and apart from the theological inaccuracies, I look forward to reading more from Melanie in the future.
Church of the Small Things is available at all major booksellers on October 3rd.
I received Church of the Small Things compliments of Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.