I am currently reading a book that was given to me by my good freind Rusty. The book is entitled “Jim and Casper go to Church”….basically the premise of the book is that this former pastor named Jim pays Matt Casper (an atheist) to visit multiple churches with him. They then wrote a book about thier experiences and more specifically what Casper thought about each church, since he has not been exposed as much to our little subculture. They go to everything from megachurch Willow, emerging church Imago, and a house church of 15 folks. So right now I am in the middle and it may be unfair to make a call now but here we go…
First of all I think the concept is brilliant, I love that throughout the book these visits seem to be serving as the context by which Jim and Casper can get into some honest conversation. I also find the book very funny because of many of Casper’s thoughts on church, things like why there are so many “overly happy” people in vests wanting to talk to him and hand him stuff when he walks in., are simply hilarious. I have often wondered what it would be like to go to church, ecspecially a big megachurch, as someone with no prior church history?? I think sometimes in church we have our own language that no one coming in would understand. I am not talking about biblical words like atonement and justification. There are some that in order to be more relevant want to discard these words….stupid. We should explain the richness of these words, but not discard them. I am talking about churchy words such as “Blended service”…in fact one church I know of has a service called “the blend”. As a non-church person I have no clue what a blended service is. I probably do not even understand why you would need to have one or the ridiculous debate over music in the church. So I see blended and think…’are we all getting frappucinos or something?” So that part of the book is entertaining!
One reoccuring them that I seem to have some trouble with is that both Jim and Casper seem to have swung the pendulum and are putting alot of focus on actions over belief. The critique in the book is that churches talk alot about belief but do nothing, which I agree with to an extent. Jim (the Christian) talks about how the church is steeped in beliefism and the worship of beliefs. At one point in the book he says that belief should come after action. He literally says that we should major on the majors (action) and minor on the minors (belief). I could not disagree more on this point. I belief action is vital to a strong believer and community of faith, but I believe action must always be driven by belief. I recall A.W. Tozer saying in his book called Knowledge of the Holy that, ” the most important thing about us is what we think about God.” He goes on to say that it will shape all that we do in life, money, relationships, and social action. He is basically saying your theology or thoughts of God matter. This is why the role of teaching is so important in the church, theology and doctrine matter alot. But doctrine and action are not mutually exclusive, you need both and a good church needs a healthy balance of both. As our buddy James would say we need faith with works!!!
One thing that did bother me a whole lot is when Jim makes a comment that sounds as though he is saying Mark Driscoll has a sexual promiscuity problem, based on the fact he talks about sex alot in sermons. Low blow guys…could it be that he ministers in one of the most sexually promiscuous cities in America and that is where people are living??
So overall the book is entertaining and the idea is great…I will let you know what I think as it wraps up. Have you read this….what are your thoughts???