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So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey Paperback – September 2, 2008
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This is an exceptional story that will make you laugh, cry and be in awe of the love that Father has for all his children! It will challenge you to rethink what church is all about! Chris, Student, East Tennessee State University --Lifestream.org
I left my church after 12 years and felt I needed to be in a church until I read your book and discovered it was not about going to church but being the church. And that is to be done everywhere I go and in everything I do. I am now fellowshipping in a small house group and feel at home. This book will definitely inspire you to be the church and not just go to church. Ronda, Mother and care-giver, Canby, Oregon --Lifestream.org
About the Author
Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman are longtime friends, former pastors, and current ministers in the name of Jesus. Formerly a contributing editor to Leadership Journal, Wayne has written numerous books on Christianity. You can find his other books, blog, and articles at lifestream.org, and his weekly podcast at thegodjourney.com. Wayne lives in Moorpark, California, with his wife, Sara. Dave Coleman is a retired hospice chaplain who continues to teach and counsel people on how to live closely with Jesus. Dave lives in Visalia, Caifornia.
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In my 30 years of being a born-again Christian, I've lived in several places, and with that, I've served as a youth pastor, men’s pastor, worship leader, and an adult Sunday school teacher. Additionally, I’ve preached from the pulpit in front of many denominations, and, because of what I do professionally, I’ve been contracted by churches to assist with their “strategic alignment.” Suffice it to say I’ve seen the modern American church from many different angles.
Sadly, in each church – and in each denomination – I’ve seen too many on the pastoral staff lying and manipulating, usually just to exercise control. In fact, while helping a large church with their strategic alignment (a church I also attended), I finally decided to “quit” the brick & mortar church scene after seeing the senior pastor deliberately lie to the board on multiple occasions just to get his way! I could go into detail on all the deception and manipulations I witnessed, but the point here is to review the book. I state the above merely to provide a platform for my opinion.
1. I loved this book the first time I read it six years ago, and I love it even more now that I’ve read it a second time. I continue to recommend it to people as the most Christian book they’ll ever read, outside of the Bible itself. I even buy copies and give them away.
2. Yes, the recurring “chance” meetings of John and Jake (the main characters) are pretty far-fetched. If I were reviewing the book only for its reality factor, it would not get five stars. But by using a fictional setting, the authors are able to convey their message in a way that attracts more readers. As I mentioned earlier, the book is essentially a comprehensive Q & A about the inevitable shortcomings of institutionalized church. If this book were written as a non-fictional Q & A, my guess is it would have less than 1/10 the readers, and wouldn’t make anywhere near the impact. It was wise of the authors to use this approach (conveying their points in a 'story').
3. No, Jake’s circumstances will not apply to all Christians. It would be impossible to pen a readable book that tries to accomplish that. Instead, the authors do a great job of addressing many of the common problems that occur in institutionalized church. So don’t get caught up in the details of the illustrations – stay with the theme, which is to make you aware of the problems likely to appear in the institution of modern church. If nothing else, people who choose to stay in an institutional church would be wise to recognize the likely pitfalls spelled out in this book, and work to keep Jesus at the center of things. Too many churches put Jesus at the center of various programs, but eventually Jesus becomes only the wrapping, while the inner core becomes something very different.
4. Jake’s journey in this book takes about four years. I think this underscores the fact that a shift in one’s perspective about “church” won’t necessarily happen overnight. Among the people I know that have moved away from institutional church, the three or four years of transition rings pretty accurate.
5. As the character John says in the last chapter, “I never told you do to one thing. I simply made some observations, asked some questions, and gave you some options. The choices were all yours.” This needs to be highlighted. Never do the authors instruct anyone to do anything. Any choices made by anyone reading this book are their own choices. I know that was true of me and my wife as we made our way away from “traditional” church. We are only doing as we feel the Lord so leading.
So that’s my review of the book. I would give it more than five stars if I could, and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a deeper relationship with Christ – and especially deeper relationships in the Body of Christ here on earth. For those who might wonder how my family “does church” at this point, I have outlined that as a separate entry in the comments section of this review.
The book is a story about a pastor who ends up leaving his church to follow Jesus in intimate ways he never thought possible.
Wherever you are at in your Christian journey, if you have the nagging feeling that there must be something more, this is a book you should read which will confirm your suspicions, and give you some inspiration to follow Jesus wherever He leads, even if it is away from "church."
Sometimes we have to leave church as we know it so that we can truly become church as Jesus wants it to be.
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