web site hit counter So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey

Availability: Ready to download

Jake Colsen, an overworked and disillusioned pastor, happens into a stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance (in manner) to the apostle John. A number of encounters with John as well as a family crisis lead Jake to a new understanding of what his life should be like: one filled with faith bolstered by a steady, close relationship with the God of the universe. Facing his o Jake Colsen, an overworked and disillusioned pastor, happens into a stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance (in manner) to the apostle John. A number of encounters with John as well as a family crisis lead Jake to a new understanding of what his life should be like: one filled with faith bolstered by a steady, close relationship with the God of the universe. Facing his own disappointment with Christianity, Jake must forsake the habits that have made his faith rote and rediscover the love that captured his heart when he first believed. Compelling and intensely personal, So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anything relates a man's rebirth from performance-based Christianity to a loving friendship with Christ that affects all he does, thinks, and says. As John tells Jake, "There is nothing the Father desires for you more than that you fall squarely in the lap of his love and never move from that place for the rest of your life."


Compare

Jake Colsen, an overworked and disillusioned pastor, happens into a stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance (in manner) to the apostle John. A number of encounters with John as well as a family crisis lead Jake to a new understanding of what his life should be like: one filled with faith bolstered by a steady, close relationship with the God of the universe. Facing his o Jake Colsen, an overworked and disillusioned pastor, happens into a stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance (in manner) to the apostle John. A number of encounters with John as well as a family crisis lead Jake to a new understanding of what his life should be like: one filled with faith bolstered by a steady, close relationship with the God of the universe. Facing his own disappointment with Christianity, Jake must forsake the habits that have made his faith rote and rediscover the love that captured his heart when he first believed. Compelling and intensely personal, So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anything relates a man's rebirth from performance-based Christianity to a loving friendship with Christ that affects all he does, thinks, and says. As John tells Jake, "There is nothing the Father desires for you more than that you fall squarely in the lap of his love and never move from that place for the rest of your life."

30 review for So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I received this book from a friend. I had seen it around and was very interested in reading it because it looked like just what my family needed. when given this book, the sister of my friend told me that "it wasn't what we expected, but it was what we needed." I think that is a good description of this book. Maybe you've felt unsatisfied in your church family and have considered leaving. Or maybe you are perfectly happy where you are. Either way, reading this book isn't a waste of time. Unlike so I received this book from a friend. I had seen it around and was very interested in reading it because it looked like just what my family needed. when given this book, the sister of my friend told me that "it wasn't what we expected, but it was what we needed." I think that is a good description of this book. Maybe you've felt unsatisfied in your church family and have considered leaving. Or maybe you are perfectly happy where you are. Either way, reading this book isn't a waste of time. Unlike so many books out there that feel like just a list of to-do's that will supposedly fix all your problems, this book guides you through it's story to realize that the "to-do's" and displays of Christianity in the church often fail to supply what we need because, in the end, what we need is a deeper, personal relationship with Christ and the people He puts in our lives. I highly enjoyed listening to this book and while it may be controversial to some people, I found that it was "just what I needed" and found so many wonderful little gems of wisdom in this book. We will never have all the answers for life, but we can grow in a closer relationship with The One that does.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This is an incredibly powerful book - and is available free as an e-book as well as being buyable in printed form. It gently looks at why so many Christians are discouraged, or fed up with structured church life, but without in any way criticising the Church as such. Jake, the main character, relates a series of conversations with an unusual person called John who appears in his life now and again. As he comes to terms with what John is saying, he experiences many struggles in his life until he This is an incredibly powerful book - and is available free as an e-book as well as being buyable in printed form. It gently looks at why so many Christians are discouraged, or fed up with structured church life, but without in any way criticising the Church as such. Jake, the main character, relates a series of conversations with an unusual person called John who appears in his life now and again. As he comes to terms with what John is saying, he experiences many struggles in his life until he begins to find a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God. Not everybody will relate to Jake, and not everybody will reject all forms of structured church... but I still highly recommend this to anyone as probably the most thought-provoking short novel I have ever read. I enjoyed just as much on re-reading five years later, finding the theology (such as it is) even more helpful and encouraging. There isn't much of a story from the 'novel' point of view, but the life changes that happen - and which can happen to anyone, whether or not they have had enough of structured church - are incredible. Definitely recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    This was one of those books that I wasn't sure what was wrong with it until I nearly finished it, mainly because it's written as a journey & you're not quite sure of the final destination 'til the end... There's a bit of wheat among the tares, but overall it has the potential to do much harm - encouraging frustrated people to just leave 'the institution of church' (which is to blame for pretty much everything) & just love & be loved by God. & love others. It's not particularly well written & is This was one of those books that I wasn't sure what was wrong with it until I nearly finished it, mainly because it's written as a journey & you're not quite sure of the final destination 'til the end... There's a bit of wheat among the tares, but overall it has the potential to do much harm - encouraging frustrated people to just leave 'the institution of church' (which is to blame for pretty much everything) & just love & be loved by God. & love others. It's not particularly well written & is more of a polite rant than a novel. It correctly identifies many problems with 'the modern' church (an obvious one would be that it's made up of sinners...) but provides a solution that is less than satisfactory, let alone Scriptural.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Throughout this book, I was blown away by the depth of insight that John, one of the characters, offers. I didn’t keep a list of memorable quotes as I went, because I felt like I’d be writing out most of the book! So, I had to flip back through the book to pick out some passages to quote here, and really, it wasn’t difficult to find several- - there are great quotes on almost every page! I’ve listed some good ones at the end of my review. My situation at the moment is different from the main char Throughout this book, I was blown away by the depth of insight that John, one of the characters, offers. I didn’t keep a list of memorable quotes as I went, because I felt like I’d be writing out most of the book! So, I had to flip back through the book to pick out some passages to quote here, and really, it wasn’t difficult to find several- - there are great quotes on almost every page! I’ve listed some good ones at the end of my review. My situation at the moment is different from the main character, Jake’s, situation, but there were many aspects which I could relate to in his concerns and how he tried to deal with his concerns with unhelpful patterns of thinking. I guess I loved this so much because it was so patently the right book at the right time for me - very much of a God-incidence. I can’t say I agree entirely with the main concept of the book - that, for the most part, churches are institutions where structure and commitment often replaces the free and easy nature of relationship with God and with others (we meet together because we feel obligated to “do” church, rather than because we want to spend time with God and each other), although I do agree that this can happen. I know there are churches like this, but I hope the other churches - where meeting together helps us to grow and draws us closer to God in an intimate relationship and also to each other so that God’s love and grace shines from us in all our interactions with other people - are in the majority. The article at the end of the book makes some valid points, and I think if people are finding an alternative to structured church that keeps their faith living and active, and if this book helps them in finding their way in that, then that is great as well. But despite that, some of the minor concepts have been immensely challenging to me. I think this is a book that I could read through again and pick up different things on subsequent read-throughs. “We don’t get [God’s] love by living up to his standards. We find his love in the most broken place of our lives. As we let him love us there and discover how to love him in return, we’ll find our lives changing in the relationship… Walking toward him is walking away from sin. The better you know him the freer from it you will be. But you can’t walk away from sin, Jake. Not in your own strength! Everything he wants to do in you will get done as you learn to live in his love. Every act of sin results from your mistrust of his love and intentions for you. We sin to fill up broken places, to try to fight for what we think is best for us, or by reacting to our guilt and shame. Once you discover how much he loves you, all that changes. As you grow in trusting him, you will find yourself increasingly free from sin.” “I’ll admit your circumstances seem much worse now. But that’s not the only place to look. You’re on a new road with your eyes on old road signs. I think what God wants you to know is that those old road signs are nothing but myths to prop up a dying system. They don’t really work, as you’re finding out.” “God will provide for you. He always has, except you don’t know that. The fact that you don’t have insurance or a job to lean on doesn’t mean he will forsake you. The fact that others are destroying your reputation doesn’t mean they’ll have the final say. God is not a fairy godmother who waves the magic wand to make everything the way we want it. You won’t get far if you question his love for you whenever he doesn’t meet your expectations. He’s your Father. He knows far better what you need than you know yourself. He is a far better provider for you and your family than you yet know. He is bringing you into his life and rather than saving you from these things you are enduring, he has chosen to use them to show you what true freedom and life really are.” “Part of the journey involves doing what [God] makes clear to you. If you’ve submitted it to him, then let him sort it out. If he were asking you to leave today, I think you’d know that, even in the face of your fears. If he hasn’t made it clear to you, then wait. Just keep loving him and following him every day. I’m learning the joy of resting in him, doing what I know to do and not doing what I don’t know to do. It’s been one of the hardest lessons to learn, but also the most freeing.” “You had this incredible hunger to know God and follow him. But you also wanted to be circumstantially secure and well-liked. Those just aren’t compatible with following him. We are safe because he is with us, not because our circumstances are easy, and trying to get everyone to like you only made you less a person than God made you to be. When you started following what God put in your heart, the other kingdom had to collapse. It was inevitable if not enviable.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bart Breen

    Not What you Might Expect This is likely one of the best books I have ever read and I'll tell you why. I've been all about the Church for most of my life. I've been a pastor, a denominational official, a Church Administrator, an Elder, a Chairman of the Board and while I'm not currently in a formal Church Ministry role, I'm finishing up a Master's degree in Organizational Leadership and writing a Master's Thesis on Leadership Styles and impact within the organization of the Church. On some levels, Not What you Might Expect This is likely one of the best books I have ever read and I'll tell you why. I've been all about the Church for most of my life. I've been a pastor, a denominational official, a Church Administrator, an Elder, a Chairman of the Board and while I'm not currently in a formal Church Ministry role, I'm finishing up a Master's degree in Organizational Leadership and writing a Master's Thesis on Leadership Styles and impact within the organization of the Church. On some levels, I'm sick and tired of the organization of the Church. Many of the criticisms leveled at it for being impersonal, political, manipulative, disingenuous and full of petty people are unfortunately true. There are literally millions of people who comprise the walking wounded who have brushed paths with many Churches and have sworn that they are never going back to such a place because it is full of hypocrites and toxic people. I understand that. I'm reminded of the man who said all the things above to his wife and ended up with the comment, "And I'm never going back there again." His wife responded, "But you have to go back. You're the Senior Pastor ......" For all who have felt this way, this book is for you. Through the masterful use of dialogue in the context of a fictional setting with a pastor who has been wounded, this book touches on all these themes and brings the reader through to the end with an alternative view of Church. It's not about the organizational Structure. Some imagine that if we just structured the Church right the problems would be solved. I can vouch from a level of involvement that exceeds many, that sadly this is not the case. The church will never be perfect in this age because I am not perfect. What is needed is a new view and understanding of the Church. This book does an excellent job of illustrating where hope lies. I recommend it highly! 5 Stars. Bart Breen

  6. 5 out of 5

    Loraine

    Jake Colsen, an overworked and disillusioned pastor, happens into a stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance (in manner) to the apostle John. A number of encounters with John as well as a family crisis lead Jake to a new understanding of what his life should be like: one filled with faith bolstered by a steady, close relationship with the God of the universe. Facing his own disappointment with Christianity, Jake must forsake the habits that have made his faith rote and rediscover the love that Jake Colsen, an overworked and disillusioned pastor, happens into a stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance (in manner) to the apostle John. A number of encounters with John as well as a family crisis lead Jake to a new understanding of what his life should be like: one filled with faith bolstered by a steady, close relationship with the God of the universe. Facing his own disappointment with Christianity, Jake must forsake the habits that have made his faith rote and rediscover the love that captured his heart when he first believed. I will be the first to admit that when a friend gave me this book and I saw the title I wondered if I really wanted to read it. But after reading it, I will say that I found it very thought provoking in that it made me really look at myself and what I thought about organized church. The emphasis is on developing a personal relationship with God through Christ that affects everything we think, say and do. So that we are "being Jesus" rather than "doing church." It in no way condemns organized religion but rather encourages all that our faith shouldn't be "all about church" but rather "all about God and Jesus." Focusing our lives on God's Word and the central message of the Gospel and that "organized church" should just be a miniscule part of that. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is involved in a church and wants to take a fresh look at what their faith is really about.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    *sighs deeply* I don't know what to say about this book. I found it sitting on the shelf in a St. Vinny's and the title piqued my curiosity. After seeing that the audiobook was on Hoopla I decided to try it one evening with Devin and I don't want to say "it changed everything" but I honestly hope it has. I figured with that title it could go any direction, but I honestly wasn't really expecting the direction it DID go. A fictional exploration of what it means to be the body of Christ and to follo *sighs deeply* I don't know what to say about this book. I found it sitting on the shelf in a St. Vinny's and the title piqued my curiosity. After seeing that the audiobook was on Hoopla I decided to try it one evening with Devin and I don't want to say "it changed everything" but I honestly hope it has. I figured with that title it could go any direction, but I honestly wasn't really expecting the direction it DID go. A fictional exploration of what it means to be the body of Christ and to follow Jesus, it made me realize the origins of some of my more "pharisaic" tendencies, and was really convicting. It's not the type of book that will leave you with a list of things you need to do, which causes people like me, who have an "achiever" strength, to struggle. For people like my husband, who is most content "being" and has a strength of inner belief, it seemed to verbalize and explain things he's always felt but never really knew why about how church is usually done. There were definitely a couple things that made me slightly uneasy in phrasing, but the number of absolute convicting revelations about how I've lived FAAAAAAR outweigh any tiny things I had concerns about. The writing isn't anything special imo, but the content was really powerful to us, and we would love to discuss it with others.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cherie Hill

    Have you ever wanted to have a sit down conversation with one of Jesus' disciples? Chances are....none of us will get that opportunity this side of eternity. But, through this book and in this message, you will take an unexpected journey and discover truths about the body of Christ and your walk of faith that will change the way you live. You will not want to miss out on this opportunity to hear answers to some of your most desperate questions about "the church." Should you feel guilty about not Have you ever wanted to have a sit down conversation with one of Jesus' disciples? Chances are....none of us will get that opportunity this side of eternity. But, through this book and in this message, you will take an unexpected journey and discover truths about the body of Christ and your walk of faith that will change the way you live. You will not want to miss out on this opportunity to hear answers to some of your most desperate questions about "the church." Should you feel guilty about not going to a church on Sundays? Are you supposed to be working in a full time ministry? Is it important to have a "membership" to a particular church body? The answers to these questions and many more will yield insight into what the TRUE body of Christ is supposed to be. Most people would admit that the "body" is broken, but what we can't seem to do.....is mend it. This book will lay out the blueprint that Jesus gave us in His life, and through His teachings, and set us on the path that the "body of Christ" was meant to follow.....there is no other way to "be the body," than to "follow Him." The message within this book will help you look at your walk of faith in a whole new light ..... You will not want to miss this "unexpected journey!"

  9. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Gibson

    This should be titled, "So you don't want to go to church anymore... Good neither do we!" Because no one in this story went back to church. I like what one reviewer (Christine) said, "This was one of those books that I wasn't sure what was wrong with it until I nearly finished it, mainly because it's written as a journey & you're not quite sure of the final destination 'til the end..." I really read it thinking it was to help people go back to church and heal those wounds, but this book is just t This should be titled, "So you don't want to go to church anymore... Good neither do we!" Because no one in this story went back to church. I like what one reviewer (Christine) said, "This was one of those books that I wasn't sure what was wrong with it until I nearly finished it, mainly because it's written as a journey & you're not quite sure of the final destination 'til the end..." I really read it thinking it was to help people go back to church and heal those wounds, but this book is just the opposite. If you read that last 2 chapters you will understand why they say some of the things they do... Why one star? 1. I didn't like the fiction writing Now I am no fiction reader, but I could not figure out who was who. It never really said, "John said, Jake replied." I thought that's how fiction is wrote (Just my opinion, lol). 2. The book is against church And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near" (Hebrews 10:25). This book, in the last chapters, John one of the main characters says (ultimately) that you don't need to meet up regularly... This totally contradicts Hebrews 10:25.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robbie

    Over the past year our family has started participating in a house based church instead of a traditional building church. We have really enjoyed the freedom that has come in doing that. This book really confirmed my discontent with what "church" should look like as well as provoked other thoughts on my personal relationship with God. Over the past year our family has started participating in a house based church instead of a traditional building church. We have really enjoyed the freedom that has come in doing that. This book really confirmed my discontent with what "church" should look like as well as provoked other thoughts on my personal relationship with God.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rod Horncastle

    This is a poor title for the book. It's more about HOW to go to church: Relationally - with people and with God. A strange little book that I tried to hate. And did for a bit - but then it seemed to redeem itself. It's a novel with a huge message. More to come... This is a poor title for the book. It's more about HOW to go to church: Relationally - with people and with God. A strange little book that I tried to hate. And did for a bit - but then it seemed to redeem itself. It's a novel with a huge message. More to come...

  12. 4 out of 5

    LadyCalico

    What do I think about this book? I don't know. This book contained the Christ-focus I felt The Shack sorely lacked and it did not push the Universalist beliefs that made me so uncomfortable with the Shack. How now shall you live? I still don't know what is the answer, but I do know for sure that the teachings of my denominational church are not the answer. I needed to read this book now, since I have spent a dreadfully painful two-years wrestling with doubts about the big business that is my chu What do I think about this book? I don't know. This book contained the Christ-focus I felt The Shack sorely lacked and it did not push the Universalist beliefs that made me so uncomfortable with the Shack. How now shall you live? I still don't know what is the answer, but I do know for sure that the teachings of my denominational church are not the answer. I needed to read this book now, since I have spent a dreadfully painful two-years wrestling with doubts about the big business that is my church, which I dub Methodism, Inc., and never before have seen my struggles described so clearly in words. It pains me to tithe and see the money go for salaries, benefits, housing for the church's wealthy CEO's--just politicians by another name--while the local soup mission needs that money for outreach to the physically and spiritually hungry. The author's are certainly asking the same questions I am, but I am just not sure about the answers. It has inspired me to spend reading time on Wayne Jacobsen's websites to further explore and think about "how now shall I live?" I had pretty much made up my mind to leave the church after the end of the year, but oddly enough, reading this book changed my mind. I made several decisions, however, which involve trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. My one reason for staying--the people. The church is full of hurting needy people and the church is the vehicle that connects me to them. Possibly Christ still sees the institutional church as a mission field and is leading me to serve there--as long as I don't get confused and buy into the institutional garbage. So I am going to try that approach first. I needed this book to remind me that just like a Christian can be in the world but not of the world, a Christian can also be in the institutional church, but not of the institutional church, if it is through the church she finds the people who need what Christ is offering. This book helped me find the clarity and courage to leave committees and the administrative clap-trap the church bureaucracy forces on the local congregations and focus on prayer and mission, and to quit tithing to church buildings,salaries, etc. and instead give to charities and missions that appear to be following the leading of the Holy Spirit in their outreach. If in spite of these decisions, the church still proves to be a stumbling block that interferes with my following Christ, I am out of there. I do not love and need the institutional church of man's traditions and ceremonies, what I love and need is the Lordship of Christ.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    Liking this rec from Nate. I'm in Chapter 4 or 5 right now (tough to keep track on an audiobook) Definitely a great source for some ongoing conversation, thought, and ongoing discussion about the often power-hungry, spiritual guilt wielding "institution" of the church vs. the purpose that God intended. So far I've really liked and been encouraged by the emphasis the author is placing on a thriving, authentic, organic love relationship w/ Jesus that also results in community. It's so easy to beco Liking this rec from Nate. I'm in Chapter 4 or 5 right now (tough to keep track on an audiobook) Definitely a great source for some ongoing conversation, thought, and ongoing discussion about the often power-hungry, spiritual guilt wielding "institution" of the church vs. the purpose that God intended. So far I've really liked and been encouraged by the emphasis the author is placing on a thriving, authentic, organic love relationship w/ Jesus that also results in community. It's so easy to become cynical about the present state of our American, little "c" church. But, as Shane Claiborne says in one of his books that I'm currently reading, we must become "a generation that stops complaining about the church it sees and becomes the church it dreams of," the Church that manifests God's Kingdom in the here and now. Rather than try to change everyone and everything else that we observe is wrong, we must allow God's movement in our own lives to change us first. Reading Claiborne's Irrisistible Revolution at the same time as this was a good pairing. Lots of parallel thoughts and perspective on the church. After finishing So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore, here are some notes and quotes that I jotted down: "U will never be able to follow Jesus' principles unless u r following Him first" Following principles didn't produce the early church's life together "Our life together expresses itself as the Church" Community is a gift, not an obligation; Father creates & provides it to those seeking Him. It's not about being more right than someone else or trying to change them. It's about letting God change you and in the process becoming more fully alive in Him. "Every time people see God moving someone has to build a building or start a movement." (NOT supposed to be this way) It is GOD who builds His Church, not us. Religion is a shame management system. "Equip people to live in Him first...Discipleship always comes before community." Elders and pastors are to equip followers, not "manage machinery." "Truth has its own time."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Interesting book about how church can interfere with our relationship with Jesus. Thought-provoking read that I would recommend to anyone. My only problem with it was that initially it seemed to blame all our spiritual problems on the organized church, which takes no responsibility on ourselves. Otherwise, had good insight into what churches often do wrong.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    Got this book based on good Amazon reviews. It drew me in but then it became increasingly annoying. This is the second fiction book I've read about a disillusioned Christian who's getting advice from a mysterious character who seems to know everything. I'd strongly prefer an honest memoir about the authors' real life experiences. This is just really bad fiction. Not believable. Weird. Boring. Got this book based on good Amazon reviews. It drew me in but then it became increasingly annoying. This is the second fiction book I've read about a disillusioned Christian who's getting advice from a mysterious character who seems to know everything. I'd strongly prefer an honest memoir about the authors' real life experiences. This is just really bad fiction. Not believable. Weird. Boring.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Box

    As always this is not a book report or a critique. Rather, it is some thoughts that stuck with me while reading “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” by Wayne Jacobsen. Rethinking Church Without digging through my calendar, I cannot remember the last time I was in a church. I am sure it was for someone’s wedding. It is almost always for someone’s wedding. Yet, I pick up books like these because I want to be challenged. For over a decade now, I have been wearing the title of agnostic like a b As always this is not a book report or a critique. Rather, it is some thoughts that stuck with me while reading “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” by Wayne Jacobsen. Rethinking Church Without digging through my calendar, I cannot remember the last time I was in a church. I am sure it was for someone’s wedding. It is almost always for someone’s wedding. Yet, I pick up books like these because I want to be challenged. For over a decade now, I have been wearing the title of agnostic like a badge of honor. In the last year, I have been exploring Buddhism. Still, I have some thoughts on how the modern church should function. As a kid, we attended Trinity Baptist Church in Frederick, Oklahoma. We were there for Sunday school, Sunday service, Sunday evening worship service, Wednesday night youth group, and occasionally my brothers and me would tag along to business meetings. Our lives revolved around church. All our friends were there. We socialized outside of the church with people from church. I spent 18 years inside that building and went through three different leaders. Each one had a different idea about how things should function. The last pastor I had seemed to be less focused on the business of leading a church and more focused on rethinking what this institution could be. Much like the author of the book, he was focused on creating a congregation not solely focused on the regiments of faith but instead focused on building a relationship with God. Of the three pastors I grew up around, he was my favorite. Then 9/11 happened and my faith began to get shaky. While in college, I would go to churches in Edmond off and on, but as my doubts swelled I found myself longing to be free to question openly and proudly. As I look back and reflect, much of which was initiated by this book, I become disgusted with those business meetings, committees, and deacons. I see men who were standing in the way of truth. I see politics in religion and it disgusts me. While I have chosen a different path than the author, I find it comforting to know I am not alone. My Faith I honestly believe if every follower of Jesus is truthful with you, they can remember moments in their lives when they have had doubts about everything they’ve been taught and/or read. I often hear how their faith saved them from traveling too far down that road. As I said above, I didn’t begin to hear the whispers of doubt until 9/11 and the years that followed. When those seeds were planted in my mind, I decided I wanted to have an honest conversation with myself. If I came out on the other side as a stronger Christian, then so be it. I had to know though. I had to know for myself. I was an adult and I needed to be able to defend what I believed. For me, the only way I could do this was by passionately questioning everything. I questioned the institution, miracles, the Bible, and the very existence of God. Like this book, I read authors on both sides of the argument. I spent time listening to lectures, talking with believers and nonbelievers, and in deep thought. Finally, I came to a simple but complicated decision. There was too much doubt for me to be sure. I could prove nothing and a reliance on faith alone would never work for me. I decided to call myself agnostic. I continued and still hunt for the truth. For me, there is a lot of joy to be found in the hunt. A Need for Community Being agnostic is, at times, a lonely enterprise. I am not spending time with the same people on a weekly basis. We aren’t focused on the same idea. We aren’t chasing the same goal. Instead, my doubts and I are left to our own devices. My questioning of the community to which I belonged left me without a community to belong. The author of this book spends a lot of time discussing the need for community that believed as he did. As I have explored Buddhism, this has become real for me. Sitting alone meditating or reading the teachings of the Buddha is perfectly fine. Still, I have found myself longing for something more. I have found myself longing to be around people on the same journey. Perhaps it is man’s communal nature, or maybe we need to draw close when we ponder life’s great mysteries. Whatever it is, the need for community written about in this book connected with me deeply. A Passion Other People Can See I think we are drawn toward the aura of passionate people. Like moths drawn to the light of a midsummer evening’s light, we move toward thinkers and doers spilling over with a love for their purpose. We want to emulate them, learn from them, and walk beside them. To be stuck in an institution without this kind of leadership is disheartening and demoralizing. It will leave you looking for the exits. I say this as a cautionary tale. As followers, we must ensure that we are drawn to the purpose, not the person. As leaders, we must keep those in our presence focused on the bigger picture. To do otherwise is idol worship and conquers nothing. This is true both inside and outside the church. Be good to each other, -Nathan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Very challenging to the status quo of church life. Many great one line zingers, but all not completely Biblical. For example, on page 41 they write, "Do you remember what Stephen said right before they picked up stones to kill him? 'The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands.' That's when they turned on him." But if you double check in Acts 7, there's 10 verses, many more words between that proclimation and their picking up stones. Also, on page 56, the books gives the impression Very challenging to the status quo of church life. Many great one line zingers, but all not completely Biblical. For example, on page 41 they write, "Do you remember what Stephen said right before they picked up stones to kill him? 'The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands.' That's when they turned on him." But if you double check in Acts 7, there's 10 verses, many more words between that proclimation and their picking up stones. Also, on page 56, the books gives the impression that there are no Bible verses for accountability. While the word or phrase, "hold each other accountable " is not in the Bible, the concept still is. Heb 10:25 exhort one another, James 5:16 confess sins to one another, Matt 18: 15-17, Prov 27:17, Eph 5:21. on and on. I think perhaps the point they were trying to make is to be sure we are exhorting and holding accountable to the things that God has asked us for and not are man-made religious rules. So while this book is excellent, it does need to be read with a prayer of discernment so that you can effectively chew on the meat and spit out the bones. I I'm told this book is very popular in the home Church movement but I do not get that impression at all. It is just as biting and cutting to a improper home church as it is to the institution of church. It is trying to get us to realize location does not matter. The body of the church is relationships not structure or format- and the most important relationship is the individual with Jesus himself not relationships with each other!! I think the best way to sum it up is a paragraph towards the end on page 169: "You think of gatherings as meetings to go to and trying to craft the perfect format that will guarantee results that no meeting can guarantee. But you don't see yet that Jesus is always Gathering his flock to himself. People from all over the world are finding their hunger for him eclipsing their hunger for anything else and that every substitute they try only adds to their restlessness. As they keep their eye on him, not only do they grow closer to him with each passing day, but they will find themselves alongside others who are headed that way too. Geese fly together not because they are obligated to do so, but because it lightens their load and lifts them closer to their goal." I am thankful to be reading this book with several others in my church family as we are in a time of transition and seeking the Lord for Direction.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joey Kaching

    4.7/5.0 A Christian autobiographical allegory with a heavy punch. It’s not often I read any fiction, let alone Christian fiction. However, I’m very glad I gave this one the time of day. The narrative of a story has a way to dig beneath your presumptions like no other as you come to see the world through the lens of the characters. And this book will certainly do just that as it challenges your view of “church” - what it means to follow Jesus and love His people. On the whole, this is an excellent, 4.7/5.0 A Christian autobiographical allegory with a heavy punch. It’s not often I read any fiction, let alone Christian fiction. However, I’m very glad I gave this one the time of day. The narrative of a story has a way to dig beneath your presumptions like no other as you come to see the world through the lens of the characters. And this book will certainly do just that as it challenges your view of “church” - what it means to follow Jesus and love His people. On the whole, this is an excellent, probing, gentle yet poignant book that will challenge your view of “church”. Whether you think it broadens your view or shrinks it will depend on whether you agree with the underlying premise of the book’s arguments. Arguments that are somehow both controversial and cliche, familiar yet radical. Though I may want to add some emphasises in places (e.g. the centrality of the word of God), when you appreciate the full nuance of the book, I for one thinks main premise is generally spot-on. It is a call back to church first and foremost as the New Testament family of God: people over programmes, service over ego, freedom over shame, partnership over performance, honesty over honour, relationships over politics, authenticity over organisation, love over legalism, fellowship over membership, transformation over obligation. The book still has a few weaknesses to note. The writing style and the story is basic, odd and sometimes hard to follow. Although the arguments are generally finely balanced, there is more than a hint of: anarchist, anti-authority, moral relativism and ecclesiological isolationism. A helpful reminder of the priority of church life: authentic fellowship that seeks to build God’s kingdom and not our own. Highly recommended.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shiloh

    This book came highly recommended by a couple of people. One of the authors had helped to write The Shack and I could see simialarities. It was written as a story, which I wasn't expecting, but very effective. There were a couple comments that I felt were not Biblical (as in the Shack), such as "We can't love what we fear." Considering how much the Bible talks about the fear of God being integral to our walk with Him, perhaps even more emphasized than the love of God, I felt this comment was in This book came highly recommended by a couple of people. One of the authors had helped to write The Shack and I could see simialarities. It was written as a story, which I wasn't expecting, but very effective. There were a couple comments that I felt were not Biblical (as in the Shack), such as "We can't love what we fear." Considering how much the Bible talks about the fear of God being integral to our walk with Him, perhaps even more emphasized than the love of God, I felt this comment was in strong error. It was 2 things like this that I struggled with, not just things that were opinions, but not Biblical. The rest of the book was inspirational, not causing division or church bashing but pointing us toward the Father and full of wisdom.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Donna Craig

    I really liked this book. My husband and I read it together. We both enjoyed it, finishing it much faster than we normally finish the books we read together. We didn’t agree with everything the authors said, but that’s normal. We were challenged to think and rethink the way we think about church and Christian living. The book is formatted like a story, and the points are made in conversations between the characters. This book pushes hard against current church structure, but it’s never condemnin I really liked this book. My husband and I read it together. We both enjoyed it, finishing it much faster than we normally finish the books we read together. We didn’t agree with everything the authors said, but that’s normal. We were challenged to think and rethink the way we think about church and Christian living. The book is formatted like a story, and the points are made in conversations between the characters. This book pushes hard against current church structure, but it’s never condemning. I recommend it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Boggs

    I finally finished this but I’m still chewing on all of its ideas. I know the title seems extreme, but the book is a narrative about an assistant pastor who gets burned by the religious institution of “church.” So many truths are written in the book that really have me thinking. Personally I’m not going to quit attending weekly meetings at my local organization, but I am looking at it with a fresh new perspective and expectation. I highly recommend this read if you have ever felt disappointed/co I finally finished this but I’m still chewing on all of its ideas. I know the title seems extreme, but the book is a narrative about an assistant pastor who gets burned by the religious institution of “church.” So many truths are written in the book that really have me thinking. Personally I’m not going to quit attending weekly meetings at my local organization, but I am looking at it with a fresh new perspective and expectation. I highly recommend this read if you have ever felt disappointed/confused with the institution we call church.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This book explains my personal views of Christianity to a "tee". I loved every page of it and recommend it to everyone. This book explains my personal views of Christianity to a "tee". I loved every page of it and recommend it to everyone.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mike DaVoice

    Not the best written, but what an important subject. I can suggest this book on the title, alone.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Great book and engagingly written. By another writer, the plot would have seem contrived, but by these two I felt drawn into the story. About halfway or a little more than halfway, I was really drinking it all in and couldn't wait to get to the end to see how everything worked out. Here are some of the passages that spoke to me (my notes in italics): "It seems like everyone I've talked to lately is running on empty--even Christians I've known for decades. I met with one of our elders yesterday, w Great book and engagingly written. By another writer, the plot would have seem contrived, but by these two I felt drawn into the story. About halfway or a little more than halfway, I was really drinking it all in and couldn't wait to get to the end to see how everything worked out. Here are some of the passages that spoke to me (my notes in italics): "It seems like everyone I've talked to lately is running on empty--even Christians I've known for decades. I met with one of our elders yesterday, who I've always thought to be a rock. Davis is pretty disillusioned with it all these days. He told me he often wonders if God is even real or if this whole Christianity thing is just a crock. What did you tell him? I tried to encourage him. I told him we couldn't live by sight but by faith; that he's done a lot of wonderful things for God and he'll honor that someday. We just have to be faithful and not trust our own feelings. So you told him he didn't have the right to his feelings, or his questions? No, that's not what I said. Are you sure? The question was gentle, not accusing. Taken back, I replayed what I had said to him. Understand something, Jake, this life in Jesus is a real thing. It's not a game. When people sense something's wrong, you know what I've discovered? Something usually is." (p. 27) "Today it's convincing people to cooperate with the church program. It doesn't matter what leads people away from God's life. Anything will do, as long as it preoccupies them enough to serve as an adequate substitute for the real thing. It's easier to see the problem when the standard is circumcision in Ephesus than when it is Sunday morning attendance in Kingston. But both can lrad to the same thing: bored and disillusioned believers, no longer embracing Father's life." (p. 31) "Well, I don't know about this place, but in others there are some sins that aren't allowed at all--usually sexual sins or teaching something the leaders don't like. But others just as destructive are ignored, such as gossip, arrogance, or condemning others. Sometimes these are even rewarded, because we can use those to get people to act the way we want them to. Even our sense of sin was selective. I could see it now. I knew people who were able to exploit the system for their own gain, even if it hurt others. I'd done it myself. Isn't it interesting how a group of people who get together regularly will eventually develop an esprit de corps, even down to how people dress and talk, what reactions they allow, and what songs they like to sing? Isn't it pretty clear hear what being a good Christian is, and isn't a big part of that not to make any waves or ask questions that make people uncomfortable? He got that right. One of the most significant lessons Jesus taught his disciples was to stop looking for God's life in the regimen of rituals and rules. He came not to refurbish their religion, but to offer them a relationship. Was it just a coincidence that he found more sick people on the Sabbath? Of course not! He wanted his disciples to know that the rules and traditions of men get in the way of the power and life of his Father." (p. 43) "...just because people abuse something doesn't make it wrong." (p. 46) "Jake, when are you going to get past the mistaken notion that Christianity is about ethics?" "I've lived my whole life in Christ thinking this was all about ethics. And that is why you're missing it. You're so caught up in a system of reward and punishment that you're missing the simple relationship he wants to have with you." "We don't get his love by living up to his standards. We find his love in the most broken places of our lives. As we let him love us there and discover how to love him in return, we'll find our lives changing in that relationship." (p. 52) "...don't use our conversations to change others. Until they are looking for the same things you are, people will not understand and you'll be accused of far worse. You're trying to live what I said without letting God make it real in you." "It's natural for us to deal with our own emptiness by trying to get others around us to change. That's why so much body life today is built around accountability and human effort: if we could just get everyone else to do what's right, everything would be better for us." (p. 55) "If we hold people accountable, they will never learn to live in love. We'll reward those who are better at putting on a front and miss those who are in the real struggle of learning to live in Jesus." (p. 56) "I'd never seen a group of people treat one another with such hostility and deceit while working so hard to appear sweet and innocent." (p. 58) I experienced this firsthand. "Why are we trying to save everyone else's kids when we're losing our own? The whole place was filled with hoodlums." A common mindset among some religious folk when it comes to outreach. Let's face it, outreach can be messy and inconvenient and some people are just not ready for that. "...that's the problem with institutions, isn't it? The institution provides something more important than simply loving one another in the same way we've been loved. Once you build an institution together, you have to protect it and its assets to be good stewards. It confuses everything. Even 'love' gets redefined as that which protects the institution and 'unloving' as that which does not. It will turn some of the nicest people in the world into raging maniacs and they never stop to think that all the name-calling and accusations are the opposite of love." (p. 60) "Every difference of opinion becomes a contest for power." "We've had this underlying tension between people who think our fellowship is too ingrown and those who worry that bringing in a lot of new people will spoil what we have." (p. 61) "When we're so afraid we can't make it without the institution, then right and wrong go out the window and the only thing that concerns us is our own survival." "Religion survives by telling us we need to fall in line or some horrible fate will befall us." (p. 64) "We even use things like 'doctrinal unity' to control people by stifling any disagreement." (p. 65) "...truth has its time. If you tell someone the truth before they're ready to hear it, you can push them further away, no matter how well intentioned you might be." (p. 142) "It made me wonder if this was why Jesus spoke in parables and metaphors--to help hungry people see without unnecessarily hardening those who were not ready." (p. 143) "We are safe because he is with us, not because our circumstances are easy, and trying to get everyone to like you only made you less a person than God made you to be. When you started following what God put in your heart, the other kingdom had to collapse." (p. 148)

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Szatkowski

    There is no reason to recommend this book. It is poor theology, poor use of scripture, poor psychology, poor sociology, need I go on? And of course, it thrives on moral relativism and triumph of ego mascaraing as theological insight. There are a few decent thoughts in the novel, but are so obscured by bad theology as not to make it worthwhile.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Honey

    It's not what you think! This book led me to realize how I've bought into the merit system, praise and shame enforcing right behavior and playing within the lines to please people instead of God. It's all about relationships, living close to the Lord and connecting with the people He puts you in contact with, all in the love, leading and freedom in Christ both inside and outside the building we call a church. Definitely focused on Christ's definition of His Church United for His plans and purpos It's not what you think! This book led me to realize how I've bought into the merit system, praise and shame enforcing right behavior and playing within the lines to please people instead of God. It's all about relationships, living close to the Lord and connecting with the people He puts you in contact with, all in the love, leading and freedom in Christ both inside and outside the building we call a church. Definitely focused on Christ's definition of His Church United for His plans and purposes.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Becki

    An allegory of sorts that seems to have some autobiographical content from the authors.\n \nThe title alone drew me to this book about fictional character Jake Colson. Jake meets a mysterious man, John, who challenges his views of himself, God's love and acceptance, and his concept of the church body. This book chronicles many encounters as Jake walks through months and even years of coming to terms with his 'need' to 'earn' God's love, his craving for acceptance, and his disillusionment with th An allegory of sorts that seems to have some autobiographical content from the authors.\n \nThe title alone drew me to this book about fictional character Jake Colson. Jake meets a mysterious man, John, who challenges his views of himself, God's love and acceptance, and his concept of the church body. This book chronicles many encounters as Jake walks through months and even years of coming to terms with his 'need' to 'earn' God's love, his craving for acceptance, and his disillusionment with the church 'machine.' He comes out the other side with his priority fully centered on connecting with Jesus and following Him every day and experiencing true fellowship with other believers outside the church walls and organization.\n \nWhile I disagree with the premise of that can be assumed from the book - all churches are evil, we don't need them, don't go - I think that assumption is also wrong. I believe that John made it clear that true fellowship and focus on living with and following Christ and growing in that relationship *can* be found in a traditional church body. However, it often isn't because we all get so caught up in our programs and activities that we lose sight of Him...and each other. I know tht I have experienced that personally and even know struggle with the lack of authentic connection to other believers in my life...even though I regularly attend and am involved in the ministries at a church.\n \nFrom the appendix in the back, one of the authors says that no where in the Bible does it say that you have to attend church. Which I guess is valid in and of itself if you view church as a certain way. But Hebrews 10:25 does state: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another�and all the more as you see the Day approaching.\n \nIn our culture that most likely means traditional church. But I understand that it doesn't have to. It is just the most likely way to meet people who are hungry and pushing after Jesus to join along with the journey.\n \nA lot of the points in the book DID hit home with me, though, and echo some of my thoughts and feelings. So it has given me a lot of fodder to think and pray on. I will continue to attend church but with God's help my focus will shift more from the tasks and programs and to do lists and the superficial relationships to really delving into what Jesus has for me to do there and for the connections that He can make through the leading of the Spirit so that I can experience authentic fellowship and relationships that help me (and I can help others) along the path. Because, really, isn't that where it's suppose to be at anyway: focus fully on Jesus and doing what He is calling you to. And the church is purely a mechanism to help that process and to help others come to know Him and be on that journey as well.\n

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I was rather intrigued by this book until I realized it was a fiction. Fake author, fake stories, and little more that another pulpit to preach a final sermon from (as is included at the end of the story by way of a 'found' expository from the main character's mentor, who had been found deceased). I can't honestly say that I relate to this book or that it shares my views of church, God, the ensuing Kingdom, or even what the purpose of faith is. What I can relate to is that I hate church. I have I was rather intrigued by this book until I realized it was a fiction. Fake author, fake stories, and little more that another pulpit to preach a final sermon from (as is included at the end of the story by way of a 'found' expository from the main character's mentor, who had been found deceased). I can't honestly say that I relate to this book or that it shares my views of church, God, the ensuing Kingdom, or even what the purpose of faith is. What I can relate to is that I hate church. I have my reasons, on which I will not expound. I feel that the title does more for faith and God's Kingdom than the book itself ever will. Taking a good, hard look at why going to church is so painful can give astonishing insight to the person who is willing to accept the resulting burdens of lost relationships, side-long glances, and open hostility to questioning the seemingly inherent assumptions of modern day faith. Real faith does not have anything to do with a building or a particular group of people, regardless of the oft quoted verse indicating that we should not give up gathering together. Real faith seems to have more to do with the UNspoken, UNsubstantiated, UNproven, motivation to act in a way that seems contrary to the natural order in which we have been raised. Inoculating yourself with a weekly church service will do little to encourage the sort of action that God seems to have in mind. Just ask the 1st century Jews what they thought of Jesus. Read on!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amy Wright

    Very great book. I love how it's still a fictional story, therefore easy to get engrossed and follow it 'till the end. Like the Shack, I followed the story and with almost each chapter, was strongly reminded or learned for the first time, a human tendency we tend to have that we NEED to be reminded of to STOP IT. Great book if.you have never set foot in a church, or if you go to a church now or if you decided a long time ago you no longer want to attend a church. I think you'll find healing here Very great book. I love how it's still a fictional story, therefore easy to get engrossed and follow it 'till the end. Like the Shack, I followed the story and with almost each chapter, was strongly reminded or learned for the first time, a human tendency we tend to have that we NEED to be reminded of to STOP IT. Great book if.you have never set foot in a church, or if you go to a church now or if you decided a long time ago you no longer want to attend a church. I think you'll find healing here in the realizations that this book brings. And don't worry, it won't guilt you to go back to church. Please note though, that some have taken this book as their new "bible" for home churches, and I don't necessarily think that's what it meant to do. It's supposed to open our eyes to what's in many church's today and what doesn't have to be there. Depending upon the type of church you currently attend, this books' message isn't necessarily "stay home instead". Of course, if you go to an institutionalized, religious, political type of church... then by all means this book will give you the freedom from guilt of trying something new. But again, let it be your decision.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ned

    OK, so you don't want to go to church anymore, don't expect this book to replace several thousand years of church teaching and make you guilt free. This is a book written by two former pastors who were upset with the "institutionalization" of the modern church, and they have a point. Problem is they use the vehicle of a disgrunteled pastor and the mysterious Apostle John, 2000 years after his most likely death to make thier point. I would love to discuss the points made about true worship and fel OK, so you don't want to go to church anymore, don't expect this book to replace several thousand years of church teaching and make you guilt free. This is a book written by two former pastors who were upset with the "institutionalization" of the modern church, and they have a point. Problem is they use the vehicle of a disgrunteled pastor and the mysterious Apostle John, 2000 years after his most likely death to make thier point. I would love to discuss the points made about true worship and fellow ship, but this gets mixed in with too much Kum by ya feel good stuff. So why did I give it 3 stars? Because their are points here worth discussing whether they are well made or not. No matter where you are in your life journey with God you will have questions about how the formal "church" fits into your personal relationship with Him. So if this book gives you the tools to begin the discussion with others, or to delve deeper into your own understanding it becomes worth the read. just don't expect great literature...

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.