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A Lifetime of Church [Paperback]

By Tom Speicher (Author)
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Item description for A Lifetime of Church by Tom Speicher...

A Lifetime of Church chronicles the author's deep involvement in two very different churches. The church of his youth was maintained by a strict social order and a set of predominant customs and traditions. From his earliest memories the author recounts what it was like to grow up in this conservative context, while it brought misery to his mother and was the life passion of her father. A series of extraordinary events culminated in the author becoming a lay minister in this church as a young adult. At the same time, a personal Bible study brought about a new set of beliefs. Following a long and agonizing spiritual struggle, the author helped found an independent community Bible church. For thirteen years the author served this church as the senior pastor, reared his family, operated a community pharmacy, and learned a lot about faith and life.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Xulon Press
Pages   600
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.12" Width: 6.16" Height: 1.44"
Weight:   2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 25, 2004
Publisher   Xulon Press
ISBN  1594673357  
ISBN13  9781594673351  

Availability  94 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 25, 2016 10:05.
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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Ministry

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > General

Reviews - What do customers think about A Lifetime of Church?

Disappointing  Jan 27, 2008
Please note that this review is based completely on what is told in Tom Speicher's book, I do not know him or his family. Tom Speicher was born to parents forced to wed after having a child out of wedlock. His mother was the daughter of a prominent minister and elder (senior pastor) of the small local Apostolic Christian Church and his father was from a family outside of the church. Both of his parents later joined the Apostolic Christian Church, mostly it seems, out of a desire to please Tom's maternal grandparents. However, both of Tom's parents privately railed against the church's doctrine and practices and many times openly and publicly defied it's teachings. However, these things were generally overlooked by the church elder, apparently for the sake of keeping peace in the family.

When Tom decided to join the church on a whim, he was worried that his girlfriend, who did not attend his church, would not follow him. Through a strange set of circumstances, his girlfriend was convinced to join as well and his grandfather (the church elder) helpfully saw to it that her continuing in a beauty pageant during her supposed repentance and conversion would be overlooked. Only a few weeks after the pair were baptized in the church, the same elder married Tom and his girlfriend, even making allowances for her to wear "worldly" clothes to her wedding (traditionally eschewed by the denomination). The decision for them to secretly wear wedding bands, however, was totally theirs (the church does not allow wearing of jewelry).

As a member of the church, Tom admits that he was strongly opposed to most of the church's doctrines, yet he usually pretended otherwise when among church members. He also admits not taking his faith in Christ very seriously, even when he was drafted into the Army. While stationed in Germany while in the Army, he and his wife busied themselves going to movies, playing cards, even visiting one of Germany's largest brothels (though not using its services) and doing just about every other thing their church regarded as worldly. He admits to very reluctantly attending church again after being released from the service.

Amazingly, his pious act in church and his family ties convinced enough church members to elect him into the ministry. However, he fought with the new church elder (his grandfather had retired from the ministry) and became irate when the church dared to discipline his own brother and sister-in-law, also members of the church, after it was discovered that they were sexually active before getting married (both were church members when involved in the premarital sex). While a minister, he admits he was almost completely ignorant of the scriptural support for the doctrines of the Apostolic Christian Church (which is quite substantial), though it does not appear he was looking for it, he had already condemned most church doctrines in his own mind. Instead, he readily accepted teachings from some evangelical radio programs which endorsed the doctrine often called "cheap grace" or once-saved, always-saved, and the labeling of strict adherence to the Bible as "legalism," as well as some tenets of Calvinism. After two years he dramatically resigned the ministry by reading his grievances from the church pulpit and then left the church, taking a sizable portion of it with him and then immediately started a new church, pastored by himself.

The last 20% of the book is devoted to his experience in his own church, reliving revisions of endless "vision" and "mission statements" and statements of faith and minutia about various building programs that would bore anyone to tears except perhaps, those directly involved. He also recounts the infighting in his own church, charges that his church ignored sin amongst its members (which he denies) which led to half of the church leadership leaving and conflicts with the associate pastor. The associate pastor eventually quit and ironically Tom was worried and angry regarding the very real possibility that the associate pastor might take half of his church with him when he finally quit, however, unlike Tom years earlier, he apparently did not follow through with the threat. Soon after, though less than 50 years old, Tom resigned as pastor of the church he started, apparently burned out by the experience. One of his parting regrets to his congregation was, as he termed it, his members' tendency to "abuse grace" by callously and unrepentantly engaging in sinful practices because they were, as they believed, once-saved, always-saved---sin has no eternal consequences after the instant when one is "saved." When followed to its logical conclusion, this seems to be a fruitless and meaningless discussion--if sin really has no consequences for "saved" people, why waste breathe talking or worrying about it? Of course, Bible repeatedly condemns sin throughout its pages and makes clear that such behavior has eternal consequences, which might make one wonder about the validity of this popular Protestant doctrine.

Much of this self-published book is tedious, filled with childhood experiences that would be of interest to no one other than his immediate relatives and close friends. A great deal of it is devoted to condemnation of the Apostolic Christian Church, though he shows himself amazingly ignorant about its history or the origins of its doctrines. For example, he surmises that the church's traditional stand eschewing sports activities was a scheme devised by A.C. parents to keep their children from straying from chores on the farm! Apparently his is unaware of clear evidence that the early church condemned participating or attending sporting events and that this practice was followed by most Anabaptist and Protestant churches well into the late 1800's until the "muscular Christianity" promoted by some liberal mainline preachers was accepted by most of Protestantism. He unfairly generalizes his experiences with his own (very untypical) family and his tiny church which was made up mostly of just two extended families at the time to the entire denomination. Furthermore, he makes many inaccurate and derogatory claims about the church and what it believes.

One has to wonder what the author's purpose for publishing this book was. It seems to be an effort to justify his past actions and to tout his success in creating his own church, consisting in part of members he took from his former church. If there is anything good to be had from this book, it is the demonstration of the folly of compromising sacred doctrine for the sake of family. Those looking for a truly accurate and representative look inside the typical Apostolic Christian Church would be advised to look elsewhere and those looking for a objective history of the church of his own creation will probably be disappointed.
Well-written and insightful, but ultimately one-sided  May 10, 2006
This book is quite a study in the issues that arise in the establishment and maintenance of sound doctrine and practices in any kind of church that follows the demanding and sometimes unpleasant Biblical directives.

However, the book is full of exaggerations and generalizations that are used to paint the church of the author's youth as something it simply is not. And for what? A plot device? The aggrandizement of his personal journey?

From major points of doctrine to minor details, the church is misrepresented. A minor detail: The author claims that very few youths raised in the church ever become members and are thus turned off of Christianity altogether. This may have been true in his congregation (it probably isn't), but it is absolutely not the case in the church overall. A major point of doctrine that is mangled to create the desired perception is found in the title of the book: "A Journey from Law to Grace." The church is painted as failing to understand what grace is, and of imposing "man-made rules" as doctrine.

What the church does is attempt to exert Biblical authority in applying scriptural doctrine into practices that aid its members in their lives of faith. Often this is not pleasing to the flesh, and often it is not easy to submit to such authority. What the author is reaching out for is not for Biblical truth, but for the way the "rest of the Christian world" does things. The real comparison being made throughout the book is not to the Word, but to common notions of doctrine and how a church should be based on what the various Christian media tell us.

a member responds....  Aug 15, 2005
As a 31 yr. member of the ac church i found this book to be fascinating. although i don't need man to confirm what the holy spirit and the scriptures have taught me to be the truth regarding salvation, it is comforting to know that others have also experienced a "grace awakening." only those who have lived in the "system" can appreciate the difficulty of leaving it. i highly recommend this book to any member who is questioning the beliefs or the leadership. i hope your eyes can be opened and God's truth can be revealed to you.
Simply Amazing  Oct 23, 2004
I just couldn't put this book down. Approximately half of the book relates his experiences in the Apostolic Christian Church, eventually becoming a minister and eventually leaving, and the other half covers his experiences with a group that forms another church.

Tom writes with an amazing amount of depth and packs an amazing amount of detail into 600 pages. This is a must read for those who have an interest in the Apostolic Christian Church or church leadership in general. He is frank and not afraid to outline areas of concern and grief. Highly recommended!!!!
A Lifetime of Church  May 6, 2004
Tom's book provides a rare candid insider's view of the events in one man's life as he struggles in the personal growth of his relationship with Christ, as well with the church of his youth;itself desperately struggling to maintain Purity of Beliefs as well as uncorrupted Unity in Thought within its membership. The documentation of the his struggles as well as those around him will strike a resonating cord with anyone who has called out "Lord, use me". Finally, while recommended for all readers, I think this book should find itself on every ministers reference shelf.
Woody Himmelburger - Indiana

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