cover image We Were Spiritual Refugees: A Story to Help You Believe in Church

We Were Spiritual Refugees: A Story to Help You Believe in Church

Katie Hays. Eerdmans, $24.99 trade paper (360p) ISBN 978-0-80-287778-9

Pastor Hays recounts the roller-coaster ride of her first four years starting the Galileo Church in Fort Worth, Tex., in her illuminating and animated debut. Hays designed the church as a shelter for spiritual refugees (particularly those who feel alienated by mainline Christianity), and considers it an experiment in the “next church” model—strongly relational and transparent, welcoming to all, and including such modern innovations as tithing through Venmo. As a result, she writes, the church, which opened its doors in 2013, has built a congregation larger and more connected than she ever anticipated. Hays reveals many pastoral failures (and some shining successes) along with the intense spiritual hunger and loneliness of the “spiritual, not religious” people she encounters daily. Believing that “infrastructure follows ethos,” she includes samples of Galileo’s mission statements, grant proposals, job descriptions, and snippets from blog posts, all of which can make this part-memoir, part–DIY church manual feel unwieldy. But those who can look past the clutter will appreciate this endearing introduction to a “church for people who hate church.” (Feb.)