Best Seller: What the Church Can Learn from Rachel Hollis

I went on Amazon the other day to look for a new book that had been highly recommended to me.

As I searched for Rachel Jankovic’s book You Who?: Why You Matter & How to Deal with It, several other books that are considered to have similar content popped up on my browser.

Among them was none other than the highly talked about, highly sought after by some, and severely rejected by others book Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.

Tagged above both of these books, of which have two very different and drastically opposed messages, was an icon that read ‘Best Seller.’

It is no secret that Hollis’ book is highly regarded among many…or should I say, Hollis’ books, as in plural. Yes, Hollis has stormed the Christian book industry once again with her recent title, Girl, Stop Apologizing, published on March 5, 2019 and already topping the charts for Christian best seller.

In fact, according to Amazon as of March 6, 2019, the top five most popular Christian products based on sales are 1) Girl, Stop Apologizing Audiobook, 2) Girl, Stop Apologizing Hardcover, 3) Girl, Wash Your Face Audiobook, 4) Girl, Wash Your Face Hardcover, and 5) Girl, Stop Apologizing Kindle Edition.

Girl, it’s time to wake up!

As Hollis’ fame and popularity continues to rise, it is increasingly obvious that women from all walks of life, even Christian, Bible-believing, church-going women are desperate; they are desperate for something and, according to Amazon, they are finding it within the pages of Hollis’ books. Why?

why are so many women buying into hollis’ message?

I’m not going to lie, I don’t want to read Hollis’ books, even if it were for the purpose of writing a review. Therefore, I cut a few corners and decided to read the reviews of real women; women in search of something deeper, more personal, and life-changing.

After reading just one page of Amazon reviews on Girl, Stop Apologizing, I was able to compile the following list of reasons why women are so drawn to Hollis’ message:

  1. Women want to feel deep, personal connection. It doesn’t matter who or what with, women are recognizing a deep need to feel understood, recognized, and validated. Women want to feel assured that they are not alone in their hopes, dreams, and struggles alike, and Hollis assures her readers that they most certainly are not alone.
  2. Women want to do better! Yes, women are actually asking for ‘tough love talk’ and a ‘kick in the butt,’ which Hollis gives will flair, gusto and humor. Women, like Hollis, want to excel as mothers, wives, friends, and businesswomen and Hollis creates an opportunity for them to do that together.
  3. Women are feeling hindered in their pursuit of ‘bigger and better things in life.’ Majority of reviews are applauding Hollis for her ability to help women recognize how much they are hindering themselves and then help them overcome those hindrances.
  4. Women are exhausted. Women everywhere are feeling the strain of daily life, motherhood, marriage, and work, all while trying to self-inspire and be self-driven enough to do what makes them feel fulfilled, successful, and important. Hollis can relate and helps her audience by telling them what she did to create her own fulfilling life.
  5. Women are afraid. Women are fearful of taking steps and leaps towards their dreams and goals, resulting in ignored or ‘shelved’ aspirations collecting the dust of failure, disappointment, resentment, and low self-esteem. Hollis helps them address and overcome those fears by looking to the capable woman within.

Though there are many other reasons why women are reaching for Hollis’ books, one thing can be concluded from all of this…

Women have become satisfied with the temporary, surface-level fulfillment of Hollis’ words. The reason why so many women are flocking to Hollis’ books, to her Instagram board, to her Rise and Rise Together conferences, and her ChicSite is because Hollis is offering what they want – hope (though it is empty and false) for a better, more fulfilling life.

Women everywhere are content with Hollis’ message of self-inspired, self-driven fulfillment and the ‘hope’ that it offers while fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are idly standing by letting it happen.

why is hollis’ message so enticing?

Self. It’s as simple as that. Hollis assures her readers that focusing on self is a good thing; a necessary thing in fact if you’re ever going to become your ‘best self.’ According to Hollis,

“The real you is destined for something more . . . your version of more. This is who you were made to be, and the first step to making that vision a reality is to stop apologizing for having the dream in the first place.”

To get to ‘your version of more’, Hollis encourages her readers to “first learn to love yourself well and give yourself credit; then reach for more.” (Hollis; Girl, Stop Apologizing)

This is the overarching theme of Hollis’ books and the fuel that keeps her fame going. Women keep coming back to Hollis and her message because she has convinced them that there is a ‘real you’ that you were destined to be and right now, you’re not it. That’s where Hollis, with all her charm and humor, steps into the picture.

Hollis claims that the best way to truly become the ‘real you;’ the ‘you’ that you were destined to be is to learn how to love yourself well, which sadly is not a hard message to sell in today’s world.

Hollis helps her readers do what we already do so naturally. Because the bedrock of her platform is that she understands you, she knows you, she can relate with you, and she can speak directly to you, Hollis is able to assure her readers that they are not alone or even wrong in feeling the way that they do and then acting on those feelings, even if they are selfish and egocentric.

Though attractive and glamorous on the outside, Hollis’ message is actually quite dangerous because it encourages and helps its readers look to themselves for their worth and value, when in reality, the only thing that we will end up finding if we look closely enough at ourselves is depravity and insufficiency.

When there is always more; when there is always a better version of yourself out there, then you will never have or be enough according to the world. Hollis assures her readers that there is a pot of gold at the end of ‘More Lane.’ She’s right in saying that we were made for more, but falls short in believing that we could ever find it in this world or within ourselves.

Church, it’s time to wake up

Many of the articles and reviews that I have read in opposition to Hollis’ message are based on the argument that Hollis’ books encourage self-love rather than self-denial.

As accustomed as we are to the concept of self-love within our culture, it is a different story all together when a message promoting self-love and full on faith in self is considered ‘Christian.’

Jesus says deny yourself. Hollis says believe in yourself.

Jesus says take up your cross daily. Hollis wonders if you’ve got time for that.

Jesus says follow me. Hollis says follow yourself—and her.

(Jen Oshman; Girl, Follow Jesus)

I agree 100% with these arguments and believe that everyone, especially Christian women, need to be aware of the dangerous traps that lie within the pages of these books that are so ‘pleasing to the eye.’ However, I also think it is just as important that we recognize why women, even Christian, Bible-believing, church-going women are buying into Hollis’ message.

Hollis actually gets a lot of things right in that she knows what women want and she knows how to relate to and connect with them and meet them where they are at. She’s just giving them false hope in place of the real, life-giving hope of the Gospel.

Perhaps the church, primarily women in the church, could learn something from Hollis’ approach to the rapidly growing culture of exhausted, worn-out, unfulfilled women. If we as the church could better understand why women are paying so much attention to Hollis, then maybe we could better address those same issues but from the standpoint of the Gospel, offering true hope in Christ rather than in self.

“If we as the church could better understand why women are paying so much attention to Hollis, then maybe we could better address those same issues but from the standpoint of the Gospel.”

Women are longing for deeper, more personal connections with other women. Just as Hollis offers empathy and relatability, so too should women within the church be open and vulnerable with one another; willing to go deep with one another and come alongside one another with empathy and grace.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness or compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind (Philippians 2:1-2, NIV).

Women want to do better! Women want a little kick in the butt and some tough love talk. It would be a great dishonor if the church and brothers and sisters in Christ ignored this and allowed one another to remain stagnant, indifferent, and unmotivated in life and in faith. Hollis speaks directly and firmly to her audiences. Perhaps its time we start doing the same.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:23-25, NIV).

Women want to pursue their hopes and dreams; to live out their passions and interests and what they feel called to do. Yet they feel hindered in doing so. Hollis goes to great lengths to encourage her readers to never give up on their hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, she takes it too far and identifies the accomplishment of those hopes and dreams as the source of our identity and worth rather than Jesus Christ.

However, lets not allow the church to be a place where hopes and dreams are diminished or disregarded. Encourage one another in pursuing God-given talents and passions, all the while pointing to Christ as the place where our worth and value lies.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV).

Women are exhausted. Women everywhere are feeling the strain of daily life, motherhood, marriage, and work. Hollis jumps right into the mess of every woman’s life and tells her that it’s okay; that she’s not alone, but that it’s time to wash your face and pick yourself back up. Brothers and sisters, let’s not be a church that ignores the weary, but instead comes alongside to help them, encourage them, build them up in the Spirit, and at times carry them to the ‘spring of living water.’

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2, NIV).

Women are afraid. Even more than they are afraid of taking steps towards their dreams and goals, women are afraid of not taking those steps; of remaining stagnant and unmotivated, stuck in the daily routines of life. That is probably the primary reason why Hollis’ message is so attractive, because it is a welcomed kick in the rear to get motivated and get going.

However, Hollis looks within to her own strength and her own sufficiency for inspiration and hope and encourages her readers to do the same.

Therefore, let’s be a church that acknowledges the deep needs and struggles of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s be a church that comes alongside men and women alike, encouraging them in their hopes and aspirations, helping them surrender their fears to the Lord, and taking steps of faith together towards Him, all the while looking within to find Jesus and not ourselves, for if Christ is in us, then who can be against us (Romans 8:31, NIV)?

Author: Kristin Holl

I am a jeans and t-shirt wearing, passionate, jump-in-with-both-feet, entirely flawed but wholly loved by God kind of girl who is learning to embrace grace over perfection. I am a brand new wife to an incredible man, daughter to two wonderful parents, and sister to three awesome brothers. When I'm not busy writing grants or analyzing data for the local nonprofit that I work for, I like to fill my time with music, writing, reading, hiking and fellowship with friends and family. I have a passion for Biblical literacy and deep, personal understanding of Gospel truth. It is my daily desire and prayer to be consumed and compelled by the cross. As C.J. Mahaney says, "we never move on from the cross. We only get a more profound understanding of the cross."

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