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Matt & Casper Go To Church (February 03, 2009 - 5:04 p.m.)

Sunday night, I finished a very interesting little book called Jim & Casper Go To Church.

In this book, Jim Henderson, a former pastor (still in ministry, just a different kind), and Matt Casper, an atheist, team up and travel all over the country and rate churches.

On one level, there seems to be something intrinsically wrong with the whole idea, but if you consider that they were not just looking for "wrong" things, but were looking for "right" things, as well, it takes a little bit of the edge off of it.

The other thing that bothered me just a little was the thought that our churches should be trying to appeal to atheists. I am very firm in my convictions (not just opinion, conviction) that "church" is not a place for people who aren't Christians. Ok, let me rephrase that. It's fine if someone who is not a Christian shows up. But we should not be trying to design services to appeal to "seekers" or people who aren't believers in Jesus. What happens in our "church service" on Sunday morning is supposed to be for Christians to worship God. So if an "unbeliever" walks in and feels uncomfortable...well, he should!

That being said, there is a lot of good information in this book. The two guys carried laptops into all of the worship services that they attended (that got them some funny stares, you bet), took notes, asked questions of each other and came up with this short (169 pages) book.

And the churches they picked were mostly what would be considered "megachurches," too. They started at one of the major ones, Saddleback, in California. Others included Lakewood in Houston (that's Joel Osteen's church), The Potter's House in Dallas, Mosaic, several "emerging" churches, and a First Presbyterian, for a more traditional taste.

They also visited a house church, held in the house of the drummer in the band that Matt Casper plays in.

The observations are, in my opinion, very honest. I think that Casper was actually very objective in his comments. He asked good questions. One of the most pointed was, "Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?" in reference to light shows, worship bands, fog machines, etc. Good question. Very good question.

This book is another piece of my ongoing journey that is eventually going to lead to my separation from the "institutional church." I have no time line...I don't know when this is going to happen. But I feel certain that it will, because I am growing increasingly more unhappy in the traditional church setting as I become more convinced that we're just doing it wrong. There's hardly anything going on in "churches" that is in line with New Testament teachings.

Anyway, I recommend this book unless you're totally comfortable with flashy, money hungry, televangelist style preachers, huge buildings, huge budgets, and celebrity ministers. If you like those things, you won't like this book. But if you, along with Jim Henderson and his atheist friends, wonder if this is really what Jesus intended, read it. It won't take a whole lot of your time.

Next book...a little fiction. Princep's Fury by Jim Butcher, book 5 in the Codex Alera series.

TTFN, y'all!

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