“Unlearning Church” by Michael Slaughter Critique


Churches have doctrines that define how activities are conducted. This has been carried on for years and is considered a predictable culture. Churches have therefore depended on tradition for constancy that guarantees continuity. Change that welcomes innovativeness and passion is not easily welcomed. Michael Slaughter wrote a book that encourage unlearning of the church. Unlearning church implies that the church should abandon the ritual and practices that have been carried on yet they are wrong and inappropriate (Slaughter, 2008, p. 9). Michael Slaughter has served in the church as a leader for thirty years in Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church. The author notes that the postmodern world needs to be approached with innovativeness to effectively deal with the congregation in the postmodern world. Due to the changes in the post-modern world, the church may embrace technology as they continue the work of God. This paper will give an overview of the book and discuss the purpose and the major components of UnLearning Church by Michael Slaughter. The paper will also state and critique the strengths, weaknesses, and application of the ideas in the book.

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UnLearning Church by Michael Slaughter challenges the doctrines of the church that have been carried on for a long. The author indicates that the church can unlearn church and change to articulate the mission of the church effectively. He encourages the church to welcome high-tech technology and the new media together with small groups in the church. The word of God does not change but the change is in how the word is delivered.

Purpose of UnLearning Church by Michael Slaughter

The author intends to make known that it is necessary to detach from activities that the church has subscribed to since time immemorial and become innovative. Innovativeness will effectively address the church today than the old ways. This is because undesirable habits have been carried forward and practiced due to a lack of change.

Times are changing and the church should be willing to go ahead and embrace the technology of today and not that of yesterday. He encourages the participation of the church leadership as an example and believes that the leadership will be taken over by those who are spiritual and follow God’s instruction. Living life as an example to others and showing love as Jesus commanded is what he encourages Christians to adopt.

The main area that needs change is not the Gospel as it is in the Bible but rather the way Christians conduct their lives in worshiping God and spreading the Gospel. According to the author, the meeting together in the mega-churches is being taken over by online churches and groups.

Another area of importance that the author emphasizes is the significance of the relationships created in the church community. The relationships defined have an impact on the expansion of the church as well as the firmness of the church.

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The author’s main aim is to sensitize the congregation and the leadership of the church to make the church mission and doctrines speak the same meaning. Thus if the church doctrine differs from the church mission, then changes are to be made so that the doctrine fits the mission.

Major components of UnLearning Church

The postmodern world is characterized by developments in technology which the author advocates for. Thus, the church should unlearn the church and embrace technological development as well as the new media. Another development that they must be prepared to welcome is the increased access to information and the transformation it has brought. Moreover, the church should welcome the questions about life by giving them space. As a result, the church will embrace high-tech technology in an environment where Christ’s followers become dynamic and transformed. By doing so the church does not abandon the teaching of Christ but rather adopts creativity in carrying out the teachings of Christ.

The church community follows the mission which has been coined by the church. To achieve this doctrine of the church should enable the mission to be realized. Some of the activities the church does and the ideas it subscribes to are of the past hence unlearning them would lead to the success of the mission. The author insists that this is a post-modern era and the old ways should be unlearnt.

The author insists that congregational health should be the main focus of the church. The expansion of the church may be necessary but what is of more significance is engaging the congregation to participate in church activities.

The church today, like in many other aspects of the postmodern world, is in need of experiences. People engage in activities that stimulate their senses and keep them engaged when changes occur. People have welcomed high-tech technology and will accept to be part of it. Christ works through the people in the church. Christ is an example for the congregation. People are more focused on getting an experience that will transform their lives rather than the traditional way of going to church.

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The book is composed of information for both the congregation and the church leader. The congregation is given information concerning God’s plan. The church leaders receive incitements on what God has given them as a mandate. The author insists that the people must unlearn ways they thought were right by trying a different direction (Slaughter, 2008, p. 9).

The church that the author talks about has a different organization when compared with the traditional church. The unlearning church has a less formal approach and fewer rituals as has been the case. The church has reviewed the approach of giving a sermon, for instance. It advocates for a situation where the preacher can talk to the congregation while sited, via the internet, record the preaching in a tape or even give the sermon in an interactive meeting. The main aim of giving the sermon is to pass on the message and the method of passing it across may not be very important. What may be of great importance is impacting the life of the congregation.

The mission of the church must be able to meet the needs of the congregation. Different congregations will have different needs and for this reason, some churches may formulate their mission to meet the needs of the congregation.

Strengths of the book and the model

One of the strengths of the book is that the author’s ideas and conclusions on the dynamic postmodern world and the emergence of modern technology are hand in hand with the methods of drawing attention from the people. In the post-modern world, people get stimulations. People get transformed by engaging in multisensory experiences. For this reason, acoustic guitar, speakers, and other high-tech instruments are used in music. For the worship experience, the congregation would be more actively involved in the scenes that are stimulating and the music is in line with the intentions of the worship.

The book reveals what God requires from the congregation in the post-modern world. It reveals that God’s obedience is more important than anything else. To obey God, the congregation and church leaders must use what is available to follow Christ’s instruction. While explaining, the author uses examples from the Bible and others from real life (Slaughter 2008, p. 8).

The strength of the book is that the author of the book has been a church leader for more than three decades. He leads by example and has dedicated his life to serving in a church. The book also receives motivation from the author’s own church. He gets to explain the importance of having small groups in the church. The church grew from a small congregation, has become a megachurch, and now unlearning the church.

The book is easy to read and does not involve deep doctrinal ideas that the reader must have prior knowledge of. The author uses language that is understandable by new and old believers as well as church leaders.

The model of the church encourages more followers of Christ to become engaged. The church advocates for interactions and relationships that are formed from small groups. They follow the example of Christ.

Weakness of the book

The book has adequate information concerning how the church in the postmodern world should be. It gives guidelines and points out at the elements that have been successfully worked in the past and wouldn’t work in the present. However, the book limits its information on what must be done and fails to talk about what has been done. The author may have introduced an example of the church congregation that has subscribed and achieved success. More so, the book gives information on instructions that must be followed and hardly talks of people who have been sent to do as it pertains with the instruction. This is because the book enlightens the reader that Christ works through people (Miklovic 2011, p. 1).

The book reveals Christ as an example to the Christians. It fails to put into consideration that Christ is the one God sent. The author also assumes that just like God sent his Son, then the followers of Christ are sent as Christ commanded.

The book does not provide information about the needs of the people in the congregation yet such needs are never ending. This means that sending the congregation may create another problem because those in the church have unmet needs.

Application of the subjects and the implementation

The idea of unlearning church has been embraced by some churches. This has gone a long way in incorporating modern musical instruments into the church. The worship is also phenomenal as most practices that were in used like songs have been modernized.

The use of new media has also been incorporated in the churches to reach out to many and has many followers. Some churches record their sermon and give them to those who miss the sermon. The churches have programs broadcasted on television. Sometimes, the sermon is posted on the website hence more can hear the word of God.

The word of God does not change and so what might change is how it is delivered as pointed out by Knight (2008 p.1). Churches may consider embracing the postmodern ways of spreading the Word of God. The post-modern world is considerably paying more attention to the things that create stimulation which is most of the time high-tech technology.


Michael Slaughter writes the book intending to persuade churches to unlearn church practices that have been carried on and begin to use creativity in carrying on their mission. The unlearning church requires the church to begin using the use of new media, making use of accessible information, and embracing small groups in the church to create an impact on the members of the congregation. The book provokes the leaders of the church to abandon the doctrines of the church which are contrary to the mission of the church. The book is written to the congregation as well as leaders of the church. The changing post-modern world has embraced technology and the members of the congregation can access online sermons, for instance. The book gives a sincere approach to effectively arriving at the church mission and spreading. The book is also relevant for the congregation and helpful to the leaders in the postmodern world and widens their worldview. The author also gives reference to examples in the Bible and has been a church leader for three decades. The book has given limited information on the practice and what has already been achieved. Churches have embraced small groups and new media.


  1. Knight, Steve. 2008. Unlearning the church: engaging the whole person.
  2. Miklovic, Jay. 2011. UnLearning Church. On-line. Web.
  3. Slaughter, Michael. 2008. UnLearning Church. America: Abingdon Press.
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