Michael was born in 1956 in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where he was voted the cutest baby in town. By the time he was four, his parents moved to Kentucky, where he lived the rest of his life.
Michael attended public schools in Owensboro, Kentucky. At age 15, he made a profession of faith in Christ at the Hall Street Baptist Church where his uncle, Rev. W.O. Spencer, pastored for many years. Later that same year, he started preaching in churches, and preached for the next 37 years.
In 1974 he graduated from Owensboro High School. He attended Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Kentucky for one year, then moved back home to Owensboro, worked in retail and in churches, then returned to school and graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan College, where he was greatly influenced by Old Testament scholar Dr. Edward Beavin. He graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy, Religion and English in 1978. The same year he married Denise Day, his wife of 31 years.
Michael started working with students in 1976, and worked as a youth ministry specialist in four different Southern Baptist churches over a period of thirteen years. In the same time, he graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1984 with a Master’s degree in Theology. He took every philosophy course available and was much indebted to his time with Drs. Richard Cunningham and Timothy George. He returned for post-graduate study in 1987.
Michael and Denise had two wonderful, talented and funny children. Noel Spencer Cordle, 24, and Clay, 21. Noel, an Ohio State University graduate, married Ryan Cordle and they live and work as teachers in southeastern Kentucky. Clay and his wife Taylor live in Lexington, where Clay is finishing a degree in English at the University of Kentucky.
In 1988, Michael left youth ministry and became a pastor. Michael enjoyed preaching, but the rest of the pastorate wasn’t his game, so he soon figured out that God had something else in store. In 1992 the Spencers moved to Southeastern Kentucky, where they lived and worked in community and ministry for the next 18 years.
Michael started Internet Monk right after the November 2000 elections, and blogged regularly thereafter. Internet Monk is consistently rated in the top twenty Christian blogs in the world. It was recently voted the number 6 blog at ChurchRelevance.com and is rated the #11 blog in the Christian blogosphere. His work has been noted on blogs around the world and published in newspapers and magazines such as The Christian Science Monitor and Modern Reformation. He was featured in the September 21, 2006 edition of Time Magazine for his blogging on Joel Osteen and was chosen as a featured blogger by the Dallas Morning News. He was cited and linked by The Drudge Report, CNN, Glenn Beck, CBN, GetReligion, Out of Ur, Christianity Today, BBC Africa, Yahoo News, Andrew Sullivan, Daily Kos, Rod Dreher, National Review Online and Real Clear Politics, among many others. His analysis of evangelicalism has made him a frequent guest on podcasts and radio programs such as The God Whisperers, Truth Talk and Frank Pastore.
In 2008 Michael was awarded a sabbatical grant from the Louisville Institute to pursue his interest in “Contemplation and Balance in Life and Ministry.” He was a seminar presenter and panel moderator at Cornerstone ’08 and ’09. He wasregular guest at Steve Brown, Etc. and Â appeared on The Frank Pastore Show and The Catholic Guy Radio program. Michael was interviewed on numerous radio programs and magazines.
Michael’s first book, Mere Churchianity, was published by Random House/WaterbrookÂ on June 15, 2010.
Michael was a member of a Southern Baptist church, preached each week at a private school and a Presbyterian church. He frequently worshiped with St. Patrick’s Anglican Church in Lexington, Kentucky.
Michael was much more opinionated on paper than in person. He described himself as a New Covenant, Reformation-loving, post-evangelical Christian in search of a Jesus shaped spirituality. He had great appreciation for the ancient church, missions, Christian community and theological underdogs.
Michael was a libertarian-leaning conservative politically and an adventurous pilgrim theologically. He owed much to Baptists, the Apostles’ Creed, Raymond Brown, Ed Beavins, Eugene Peterson, Paul Zahl, Robert Capon, C.S. Lewis, the Gospel of Mark, Michael Horton, N.T. Wright, Shakespeare, his dad, several pastors and always Martin Luther.
Michael Spencer died on April 5, 2010 after a battle with cancer. His dream was to move to a little church near a pub with a minor league ballpark nearby, work with university students and cook Italian food for the mob. How much better could Heaven be than that?
Editor’s note: At Michael’s memorial service, his life-long friend David Head shared a very touching eulogy, which you can read in its entirety here.