Saturday, February 06, 2010

Reading Recommendation

Last night I finished--in one day, really--the book "Jim and Caspar Go to Church." Jim, a Pentecostal who has pastored, run businesses, and studied and written books about evangelism and marketing, hired an atheist, Caspar (his last name) to go to churches with him and critique/discuss what he saw and experienced. He goes to a good mix of megachurches, traditional churches, emerging/emergent churches (two different things, although many people use the words interchangeably), a house church, inner city churches, all-white, all-black, etc. Everything from Mark Driscoll to Joel Osteen (who gets the worst rating, no surprise; I would give him the worst as well). It was fascinating reading, and anybody who does church work should read it.

Not that I agreed with everything in the book, but that's not the point. If you only read books you agree with, why read? It helped me define some issues I've been struggling with for a long time, such as how we do church, why is evangelism or witnessing so hard, and how are we to relate to "outsiders" (there really aren't any nice ways we have to refer to those who do not come to church or believe like we do. Every word we use is a negative, a nullification, or a "non"--unbelievers, nonChristians, unchurched, or worse, pagans. All those words are correct but carry baggage.)

The atheist fellow insists that, in his eyes, what matters is what Christians do, not what they believe or what prayers they make. He also says, frequently, "What does this have to do with Jesus?" I have to ask the same question. On the other hand, Jim's theology is a little amiss at times. He is a marketer, so his concern is what sells, what works, and he doesn't want to get into arguments with Caspar, since he knows Caspar isn't all that open to it. I have to say that what we do in the church is not about whether an atheist likes it or not, but whether it glorifies God. I don't think a lot of what we do in the church glorifies God.

I will be the first to admit I am no good at witnessing. I am ok with stating my faith, making it clear what I believe, living it, and I hope showing I have Christian ethics and lifestyle, but no good at saying to people, especially at work, "Where would you be if you died in the next five minutes?" (a question, by the way, the atheist really, really hated.) I'm no good at saying to people, "your problems would be solved if you accept Jesus as your savior" because I know that's not true.

And I believe that ends do not justify the means. We are supposed to focus on the means, obedience to Scripture, not the end, lots of so-called conversions (which often aren't.) So we have it backward most of the time. Businesses are end-driven, yes; the church is obedience and glorifying God-driven. Atheists will never like what we do; it is an offense to them. But it is valuable to see what we do from a different perspective.

12 comments:

drgregb said...

Thanks for the recommendation. Your comments are good and I appreciate your easy style of writing.

Barbara Tucker said...

You're welcome.

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Anonymous said...

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