Southern Fried Faith

What a sweet privilege it is to grow up in the south, and not just because of the iced tea. Why, if it weren't for the southern church, the south just wouldn't be the same. In fact, with as many church buildings as coffee shops dotting the southern landscape, it's no wonder many use the terms "Christian" and "Southern" interchangeably.

But are those two things truly synonymous? Or is it possible that some Christians in the south have accepted some behaviors as "Christian" when they are, in fact, more "southern" than biblical? Flannery O'Connor once said, "When there is a tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual and make it resident in a certain type of life only, the spiritual is apt gradually to be lost." This is my fear for the southern Christian: that his or her faith become compartmentalized into the culture and is, therefore, lost entirely into the culture.

Writing through the lenses of Scripture and my own experiences with biting humor and refreshing honesty, my goal in the book is to help us see different ways Christians act southern while thinking they are acting Christian, and how these behaviors are harmful to them, the church, the south, and the lost. Discussion questions follow each chapter, making this book a useful resource for y'all (that is, for you or your small group).

They say a fish is unaware of the water he’s swimming in. Many church going southerners are avid attendees who are blissfully unaware of the shallow, murky, man-centered, Christ-marginalized church culture in which they regularly swim. It’s possible to be so immersed in a culture that you don’t see it for what it is. Not only is it possible. It’s dangerous.

Carbon monoxide can’t be smelled, but it can kill you. Having carbon monoxide monitors upstairs where my 5 boys sleep provides me with confidence and calm knowing that alarms will sound at the presence of a the odorless gas in the boys’ rooms.

Believing analysis to be the first step toward solution, Tims serves the Church by providing an examination of a quandary which is too often found in the South—the dilemma of church being a matter of cultural practice rather than a matter of devotion to Christ. In this part of the country where we drive past church signs proclaiming messages like, “JesUSAves” and “If you don’t love Jesus and root for Bama, you’ll Au-BURN,” Southern Fried Faith helps us discern between the true and the trite, between the challenging and the cheesy and ultimately between the culture and Christ.

Through his personal experiences, careful reflections, witty writings and obvious commitment to Christ, Rob Tims helps us all see more clearly the danger of elevating culture over Christ. At your church’s next dinner-on-the-ground or when the ladies in the choir wear their sequin gowns at that annual pageant, Southern Fried Faith may be a good parting gift for all attendees. How’s that for outreach?

Todd E. Brady, Vice President for University Ministries, Union University


One of the biggest challenges for the church today is to see through the clutter of cultural Christianity to the unchanging, biblical gospel that creates a new kind of culture in its place. Southern Fried Faith is written by a pastor who loves the church in the South enough to affirm its beauty where possible and challenge its idolatry where needed. This is a funny, convicting, and hope-filled book. 

Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, author of Gospel-Centered Teaching, Clear Winter Nights, and Counterfeit Gospels


Having grown up in the American south where the ‘behavior modification program’ too often passes for the authentic following of Jesus, Rob Tims brings very good tidings. For hopeless sinners like me, Southern Fried Faith is a welcome disruption and an invitation to freedom for believers from anywhere on the map.

Derek Webb, Artist & Entrepreneur


This book was written by a Southern-fried preacher, alright, but one who understands the priority of the gospel over its cultural encasement. There is nothing mean-spirited or angry in this volume, but much honest probing and candid exploration from one who has thought deeply about the joys and the discomforts of discipleship and ministry in the school of Jesus Christ.

Timothy George is the founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and chairman of the Board of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.


This book, Southern Fried Faith, aims to show that the church of the south can relate to the culture of the south without being absorbed by it. Pastor Tims writes so that the church of the south might be recognized by its allegiance to Christ rather than its attachment to the southern culture. This work is different in its perspective in order to make a difference in its impact.

Dr. Robert Smith is Professor for Christian Preaching at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, and author of Doctrine That Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life.


It's been said that the gospel is a seed that grows in the soil of the culture. But what happens when we confuse the soil with the seed? This book addresses that issue not from the outside, but from inside the religious south, helping pastors and church leaders diagnose those cultural characteristics that so subtly and destructively into the minds and hearts of church members. Rob helps us see with biting insight as well as humor the distinctive challenge and calling it is to shepherd in the south.

Michael Kelley, Director of Discipleship at Lifeway Christian Resources and author of Boring and Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal.


Comfortable? No. Challenging? Yes. Fit your church? You'll have to read to find out. Accurately assessing our culture may be even more difficult than accurately assessing ourselves, because our culture is one of the most powerful things we use to justify ourselves. While you may not agree with everything he says, Rob attempts to raise the kind of questions the Southern church must assess to see if our culture has gotten ahead of our God. Read at your own risk... but neglect to consider this issue at your own risk as well.

Brad Hambrick, Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in Durham, NC.


Sweet tea, football and church are three realities of growing up in the deep south. Southerners want their tea sweet, their football team victorious, and their church safe. In his book, Southern Fried Faith, Pastor Rob Tims treads on the hallowed ground of the church. He does so respectfully and straightforwardly. In doing so, he challenges the reader to move beyond the culture and to move deeper into the gospel. Southern Fried Faith is a must read for anyone from the south. For that matter, it is a must read for anyone serious about their commitment to Jesus Christ.

Ryan Whitley, Senior Pastor at Crosspoint Church in Trussville, AL.

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