Review

Ir-rev-rend: Christianity Without the Pretense. Faith Without the Façade

by Greg Surratt

Greg Surratt is the founding pastor of Seacoast Church, so named as a trend-setting, multisite church in South Carolina. This first-time author preaches the message of authentic Christianity to anyone and everyone who will listen. Coming from a long line of pastors, Surratt (who never wanted to be one) tells about his drive to become a musician and where that little detour on the way to his true calling of being a pastor took him. Surratt (and his life) is full of comedic twists and ironic turnabouts that will have readers identifying with him (as just a regular guy) and as a Christ follower (who messes up and struggles like every other person.) In short, everything Surratt recounts makes him utterly relatable, despite the fact that he is a pastor of a huge megachurch.

"...everything Surratt recounts makes him utterly relatable, despite the fact that he is a pastor of a huge megachurch."

Surratt offers lots of asides to the life of faith in general, particularly from his point of view. Even the opening title page tells readers what they might expect to find within the scope of this text.
 
“ir-rev-rend” (ear-rev-rund) adj.
 
  1. Christianity without the pretense; faith without the façade
  2. stories of life and love; hope and doubt; politics and money; with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure
  3. my spiritual journey so far
Surratt shares how he had to overcome several obstacles to becoming an effective pastor. The first is that he suffers from a severe case of glossophobia (fear of public speaking.) Now that alone could cause a problem given that pastors are expected to stand in front of their congregation at least once a week to teach. It’s a good thing that Surratt discovered a three-step plan for working through this phobia. 1) He faced the fear and does it anyway, knowing that God will give him what he needs every time he’s expected to speak. 2) He lowered the bar of expectation, shared his struggle, and his congregation laughs with him and roots for him. 3) He asks himself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” and if what you fear doesn’t result in the world ending or losing a loved one, you’re good to go.
 
Surratt also admits that he struggles with not sounding like anyone else he knows when he teaches. Unlike his elder family members who preached firebrand style and got people filling the altars, Surratt didn’t feel that people felt much of anything when he spoke. But at the wise counsel of a college professor, he realized there must be a group of people out there somewhere who needs his brand of preaching/teaching. No worries. Finally, Surratt recounts how he was fired from his first three jobs in ministry: first by his father, then by his grandfather, and finally by a stranger. Good for Surratt that he never gave up, and neither did God. After all, he now pastors one of the largest churches around, and his influence (like his sense of humor) knows no bounds.
 
Insightful, witty and full of wisdom, Surratt can now add “author” to his vocational success story.
 

Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 10, 2011

Ir-rev-rend: Christianity Without the Pretense. Faith Without the Façade
by Greg Surratt