The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher by Rob Stennett

Ryan Fisher is a real estate agent who needs a boost in sales. The agnostic Fisher decides to take out an add in the local Christian directory with the Ichthus symbol, the Christian fish we see on cars and signs, prominently displayed and immediately sees results.

The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher
by Rob Stennett
Zondervan
2008

Wanting even more results, he and his wife decide to attend church to mingle with prospective buyers to keep up his new image as a “believer.” Recognizing the opportunity of the Christian market – and the money to be made there – Fisher and his wife relocate to Oklahoma to plant a church. A mega church.

Fisher creates a history for his new mega church pastor image, including seminary and prior pastorates, and sets to work creating his mega church. He hires a local songwriter (who puts Christian lyrics to popular songs) and a band, rents a carnival, and prepares his sermons all without input from God, Jesus or the Bible. His (what some Christians may call) seeker-sensitive style catches on and soon his popularity far surpasses even his wildest dreams. But the limelight is also a spotlight and his false past is quickly catching up to him as the local pastors, the media and concerned churchgoers all begin to take a closer look at the new superstar pastor. Oh, and there is his wife’s growing infatuation with his worship leader.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but suffice it to say it doesn’t end up how most Christian books do. Stennett takes Fisher on a ride that isn’t just almost true, but unfortunately, mostly true and also true a lot. And it never ends well.

Fisher, while not based on any individual, is reminiscent of many preachers today who seem to be after growth and monetary gain instead of spiritual truth. What I loved – and simultaneously hated – was that Fisher’s journey speaks to how gullible Christians can be and how wolf-like preachers can be. (Notice I said “preachers” not “pastors,” which are worlds apart sometimes and especially in this case.) Stennett’s book is a social commentary on how true Christianity is easily usurped by a slick presentation and feel good sermons and how Biblically illiterate believers can have a tough time knowing the difference.

The book is engrossing and engaging; I couldn’t put it down. Not only was it a spot on commentary, but also a hilarious (at times) satire. (See Fisher’s early attempts to be “Christian,” for example.) I recommend it highly for Christians who are interested in a good book with an excellent warning.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on current events and Christianity.

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