So you don't want to go to church anymore

So you don’t want to go to church anymore

I discovered a freely downloadable book by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman written under the name Jake Colsen. I read "So you don’t want to go to church anymore" in a couple of days. It is nice being able to read and review a book that I really enjoyed and it wasn’t sent to me by a publisher.

I was challenged by this book because it takes a completely different track than the typical emerging church fare I’ve absorbed in the last few years. The central theme is less about church and more about our relationship with Jesus. Most of the book is written as conversation between two people, not unlike MacLaren’s "A new kind of Christian." I’ve always enjoyed this style of writing as it puts theology in a real world context and it presents more than one point of view at the same time.

I believe the authors make several good points in this book. They do a good job revealing how seemingly innocuous practices can manipulate people in to religious performance. These methods mould us in to performance driven people pleasers. We get subtly deceived in to playing a game rather than building God’s kingdom.

Every time we use an external system to motivate people towards a spiritual end we run the risk of obscuring the spiritual reality. For many spiritual growth isn’t much more than establishing positive habits based on biblical principles. We use awards and social approval to reward these good habits. Unfortunately when we do this people end up serving the ideals of a sub-culture when they think we are serving Jesus. When circumstances become difficult or the influence of that sub-culture is removed the whole framework comes down like a house of cards. Given this pattern it is easy to see how a church culture can become hypersensitive about certain kinds of sin but completely complacent about others.

The book keeps pulling the reader towards a more sincere and substantial relationship with Jesus.

The authors view church organization as a huge culprit in distracting people from a real life giving relationship with Jesus and others. They even deconstruct some of the unhealthy motives behind the house church movement. While I enjoyed the book I see a disconnect between the picture of church they paint with that I see in scripture. There does seem to be a little more organization in the New Testament than the completely relationship based fellowship they present in the book.

The challenges I’ve taken from the book are found in the following to questions: When I structure things am I facilitating sincere devotion to Christ or am I steering people to perform religious exercises to meet others expectations? Will people come out of this with a sincere devotion to Christ and a pure love for others or will they be motivated by guilt or fear?

I recommend that people read the book. I enjoyed the freshness of the perspective. They keep bringing things back to Jesus and I really appreciated that. It can be downloaded for free from here.  One of the authors can be heard regularly at "The God Journey" podcast.

  1. #1 by Jeri McKelvie on May 28, 2007 - 12:01 am

    Hi Leighton,

    This is such a God thing. I found Lifestream and The God Journey a couple of months ago and have been listening to the podcasts. Currently Greg and I are working through the Transition series. I was going to send you and Randall an e-mail about it because I was interested in hearing what you had to say about it. I love it but I know what you mean about needing a little more structure. However, it has been 8 months since we left our former church and we were so addicted to being in church Sunday morning and everytime the doors opened that we joined the first home church we found, knowing that God didn’t want us to put down roots there but that it was a good place to transition to what he had for us. It never ever occured to us that what He had for us was not attending a church even thought God was saying “I need you all to my self for a time. I want to teach you some things that are necessary for fruitfulness.” We left and it has been a very rich time with God. It has brought some healing and wholeness to our family and a fresh love for people. We do strongly desire companionship but haven’t found like minded people as yet but I am confident that God will provide that too. I should take that back because he has provided another person to walk this journey with but not in a way I expected.

    My cousin called us in March. His wife of 18 years had decided to leave him for another man. He felt quite alone because he was working up north. So he picked up his Bible and started reading and asked God to reveal Himself through His word. It has been so interesting to talk with a virgin christian, untainted by the politics and manmade rules of church. He has been a mirror to see myself better in and I really didn’t like what I saw. I made a comment about God preparing a place for him in the place of his enemy (aka the other man) and my cousin said “No don’t say that. I want you to pray that this man will be healed.” SMACK! I was humbled. So a little pruning and a little training for a fruitful season. God gave me Isaiah 5 and 6 for an entirely different problem we were facing but over time I have come to realize that He was making reference to me. My Christian walk was unfruitful in myself, my family and in my community. God said “Trust me. I need to tear down what has been built and start fresh with you so that your life will be fruitful.” I could go on and on about how all the dots in my life have started to connect during this time and I am feeling much more grounded in my beliefs. Greg and I meet over the word on Wednesdays and it is usually such a great time but on occassion I work him up by challenging him to “show me where it says that in the Bible.” Would love to have another visit sometime with you and your wife.


  2. #2 by Anonymous on May 28, 2007 - 3:28 pm

    I’m gonna read this. It sounds like something I need to hear.

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