Book review: The Vertical Self

The Vertical Self

Mark Sayers latest book takes an analytical approach to the current state of the church, calling for a return to a way of life which he characterises as ‘vertical’ – removed from the fame chasing, image obsessed ‘horizontal’ way of conventional living.

Essentially Sayers is calling for a return to discipleship and holiness, and all that these concepts entail. He bemoans the widespread practise of duplicity, people living different lifestyles according to whom they are with at any one time.

But as well as calling for individuals to reclaim their roles as disciples, he calls the church as a whole to account, pointing out the futility of trying to make Jesus ‘cool’ – as if finding out how to do so will somehow fill our churches, and stop us being picked on in the playgrounds. This is what Sayers describes as ‘The mistaken belief that millions of non-Christians are waiting for Christianity to get hip enough, and then they will convert.’

Sayers writes with insight and intelligence, coolly picking over contemporary culture and providing a helpful tonic to all of us who are too easily drawn into a way of living which has all the depth of a teaspoon.

He combines engaging stories with a canny ability to explain the spirit of the times. His writing comes has been born out of years of experience as a pastor and cultural commentator, and The Vertical Self is a welcome addition to the growing body of contemporary literature which is advocating a rediscovery of a deeper way.

His solutions for our present maladies are drawn from ancient sources, from Judaism and early Christianity. He points out the need for us to engage with one another in accountability and comradeship, and provides practical suggestions for ways to do so. This is a book which individuals, small groups and larger churches can absorb and use with ease, and with great profit.

Disclaimer: I received ‘The Vertical Self’ free from Thomas Nelson, as part of the blogger review program.


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