Location: United States
Online Status: Offline
Posted: 05/31/2009 at 6:55pm
A Review of Jake Colsonís So You Donít Want to Go to Church Anymore
by Steve Eastman
The title invites a knee-jerk reaction. If you are part of the traditional church system and want to keep it that way, youíll respond one way. If youíve left the system, are living out what it means to be the church, and only do what you see the Father doing, youíll have an opposite reaction. I suspect the target audience is a third group Ė those who are part of the system but feel called to something else, something that may even be difficult to define at the moment. Just as the main character is forced to puzzle over each new discovery, until God makes it part of his life, the seeking reader makes a similar journey.
So You Donít Want to Go to Church Anymore comes from the team that helped edit The Shack manuscript down into a shorter, more effective book. This time Wayne Jacobson and Dave Coleman write alone without the aid of William Paul Young, the credited author of The Shack, but the style is similar. Their names are combined and morphed into a pen name, Jake Colson, which is also the name of the main character. Jacobson and Coleman continue to defy conventional publishing wisdom by putting more emphasis on dialog than narrative. Corporate publishers will also be shocked they give the book away as a free download, competing with the moderately priced print version. Thatís okay with them. Jacobson and Coleman are most concerned with getting out the message.
In the book, Jake Colson transforms from a professional Christian who has it all figured out, to a friend of Jesus who refuses to buy into any system that replaces the need to seek Jesus moment by moment. A mentor, the mysterious John, appears at strategic times over a four-year period. John asks probing questions, avoids telling Jake exactly what to do, and disappears from his life for months at a time. When their paths eventually cross, John seems just as surprised as Jake. The book toys with the idea that John may be the disciple from the first century, but that loose end is never resolved.
Johnís questions hit Jake like a ton of bricks. I confess some of them had the same effect on me. Bit by bit, Jakeís self-assurance crumbles. He eventually embraces each new lesson, and more often than not, gets into trouble. For example, he becomes increasingly uncomfortable with being an assistant pastor at a megachurch, which is more dedicated to keeping the ďmachineĒ running than helping people reach spiritual maturity. He loses his position by refusing to compromise on an ethical matter and suddenly has no income.
Eventually he decides to start a house church and cannot understand why John is less than enthused. But after people stop coming regularly, he realizes commitment to a meeting does not take the place of interacting as a family. A house church can be a system too. Itís more appropriate to do what God wants when He wants it than it is to follow a blueprint.
Toward the end of the book, Jake finds a new level of freedom. He accepts an invitation to speak at a traditional church. Jake realizes only a fraction of the people may respond to the spiritual seeds heĎs planting. He also encourages the pastor who is hungering for something deeper, but isnít sure when to make the change.
I consider So You Donít Want to Go to Church Anymore to be a kinder, gentler cousin of hardcore books challenging the traditional system. It provides a perspective that allows the reader to respect where people are in their present stage of the Christian journey, creates a hunger for total dependence on Him, and emphasizes that progress is neither fast nor painless.
Read Steve and Sheryl Eastman's interview with co-author Wayne Jacobsen.
Visit the book's web site.
Edited by Steve Eastman on 09/07/2009 at 4:12pm