I’ve Just Read a Wonderful Book…

Well I am back from a wonderful holiday, all the better for having had the chance to share part of it with some great friends. For some time I’d been planning to read the book, ‘So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore‘, by Jake Colsen (a pseudonym for Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman), and finally was able to do so while away.

What a liberating read.

It wasn’t as if I’d not come across the concepts in the book before, and many of those who’ve read this blog from time to time would be familiar with at least some of them. However, I’ve never before come across such an effective story that brings all these things together in one place, with a powerful effect on the reader. Even before I got terribly far into the book, I found myself relaxing into an enormous sense of peace and freedom about life with Jesus.

The book expresses all sorts of observations about different forms of organised ‘church’, in the form of a story about a pastor whose journey takes an unexpected turn. More importantly, it expresses so much about the love and grace of our Father.

It gives a graphic illustration of a transition from trusting in our own methods to achieve what we think are God’s purposes, to trusting in God’s work in and through us, putting aside religion along the way. It is not about putting aside things for their own sake, or fighting against them, so much as just listening to what our Father says to us on a daily basis and responding to that.

Anyway, it is impossible for me to describe the content of the book and do it justice. It really needs to be read. I intend to read it several more times. My trust in God has been enormously encouraged by the story, and I am experiencing a real peace and rest in Him.

I’d recommend it to anyone who has a sense of disquiet about their church experience for whatever reason, and for anyone who is just seeking a greater understanding of our Father, and His love for and work in us.

Possibly this book may help people heal in their relationship with God where they may have been hurt by religion or religious people in the past.

This book is available online in pdf form or may be ordered in hard copy here.

God bless you all!

RavingPente


13 thoughts on “I’ve Just Read a Wonderful Book…

  1. What’s wrong with Christians these days? All you’re supposed to need is God’s word and the Holy Spirit. Not any of these distracting works written by men.

  2. David you’re reading this blog but this blog is not the bible, what’s up with that?!

    When it comes to being saved you’re right though, all we need to know is what’s in the bible, with our understanding aided by the Holy Spirit.

    Still when I once got appendicitis, I’m glad my surgeon had read more books than just the bible (albeit I would have gone to heaven if I hadn’t survived the operation).

    Likewise I believe there is value in reading books in addition to the bible for psychological health.

  3. “What’s wrong with Christians these days? All you’re supposed to need is God’s word and the Holy Spirit. Not any of these distracting works written by men.”

    Heheh! AMEN! Good words David! That’s why I’ve hardly been on! I’ve learnt so so much! It’s almost hard to fathom until I journal and digest it. To see you post such a cool statement is in total line where I have been for the last few weeks.

  4. cpig – David is our resident atheist (he disappeared for a while there). I’m not sure if he would bother reading the Bible these days, although I suspect he’s had a pretty good exposure to it at some time in the past.

    Anyway, I read lots of books when I get the chance. I love reading!

  5. I’ve read most of the book – still going through the last chapters. It was quite a clear and entertaining account of the way that Religious control structures grow up, partly caused by our own insecurities and the insecurity and desire of others for control.

    The style was that common American literary device of an everyman encountering a wise,successful,spiritual elder and being dumbfounded at all the insights being imparted to him. I was never fond of this style when it was used in things like “The One-minute manager” and similar business books – it has an air of “You have much to learn, young Padawan”. But I guess it makes it easier to read and digest each point.

    Some of the anti-church arguments remind me of the anti-school or homeschooling arguments. Education was never meant to be institutionalised, it is not rote-learning or indoctrination, it is primarily the parents’ responsibility and so on.. But in the end most people agree with these arguments and still send their kids to some kind of school. They put up with the sometimes harmful stuff that goes with the institution because it isnt really practical for most families to home-school. They want the benefits of the education from the institution and they arent willing to give up some of the freedoms and put in the effort to homeschool.

    Most thinking church-goers are in a similar position, I believe. They can see the manipulation and even cultic messages that go with being in a religious organisation, but they are willing to put up with them. They dont want to climb the ladder of leadership, but go along with some of the leadership in order to be part of a Christian community.

  6. I am sure there are many who do as you say, wazza, but I think there are also many who don’t see the manipulation or cultic messages. I used not to. (Maybe I was just more naive than most people 🙂 ) Many people don’t want to believe these things. It might depend on the extreme or otherwise of their church experience.

    Its true that the easiest place to find other Christians is at your local church. I might visit one if I moved areas, to get to know people, but keep my distance from some types of involvement these days. And many people are pretty happy with their local church. I was once, until it took a certain turn…

    It’s nice to hear a point of view validating being a committed member of the body of Christ, and not necessarily participating in an organised church.

    The emphasis in the book that I found most freeing, was the emphasis that we don’t have to perform in some way to be a ‘good’ Christian, or to become more acceptable to God. I also began to see ways in which I’d been judging myself based on my own performance in a whole variety of areas, including those that had nothing to do with church. You can imagine how freeing it is to be free of your own condemnation at times. (Eg: Being a good enough mother and so forth.)

    My electrician visited yesterday, and asked me how church was going. I told him I’d left for now. He told me he left his 12 years ago, and even though he is a committed Christian, he just doesn’t find them ‘authentic’ enough for his liking. Not to his taste.

    Anyway, its all part of a journey for me (sorry to those who don’t like that term), and at some stage I’m sure I will participate in an organised church again in some fashion. A fairly low key one, I suspect. But I really did like the book’s emphasis on just walking with God, regardless of where you are. I think we can all do that, and get better at it as we go. I’ve always felt there are seasons for things – for me, this is a good season to have moved on and not be trying to do anything. I feel relieved to have left where I was. Its good not to be so annoyed once a week on a Sunday.

  7. Since most people on here have been reading ‘Church Beyond The Congregation’, I’m reading that. It is fantastico! It’s so liberating and really insightful.

    I’m glad you have found the book, ‘So You Don’t Want to…’ liberating. After reading CBTC, I’m thinking of not reading for a few months and try to live what the book is talking about; allowing God to give me revelation through his creation and community.

    It’s like he has starting to reveal his characteristics to me already. Had this lovely vision that the world as round and fragile as a dandelion and how is hands prevent the wind from blowing us apart. A nice image showing the tender mercy, wisdom and careful nature of God.

    The more time we allow to step away from man’s rubbish, and the more time we spend with the community or nature, the more we should start to seeing God revealed in his beauty around us. It’s no wonder the proverbs, prophets and psalms are so rich in imagery, metaphor and illustration.

    Thanks RP for finally getting me interested in reading CBYC. I might look at the reviews for ‘So You Don’t Want To…’ and see what revelations people have gotten out of it.

    When I talk to young Christian’s who have just given their life to the Lord, the first thing I tell them is that they are the church whether they like it or not. They are apart of something supernatural with a supernatural being live within them: Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit. I tell them that they are the house of God because they house the Holy Spirit and that they are a living temple and that nothing can separate them from God’s love, nor will the Holy Spirit ever leave them.

    They gogle at the facts, get excited, usually leave high-spirited and then start evangelising with friends. So I allow my friends to save people and I just encourage the newly saved to get out there. I have trouble evangelising. It’s a funky cycle. But it looks as though our church kinda lives what that book is on about RP.

    BTW. We need to catch up again sometime.

  8. Yes, your church seems pretty good, S&P. They really grasp the concept of equipping the saints and seem to have deliberately steered clear of some of the typical organisational traps. They prove to me that you can have an organised church that looks traditional yet still works in a very freeing manner.

    Anyway, CBTC is a _much_ more challenging read than ‘So you don’t want to…’, yet they are very complimentary, I think. There is so much crammed into CBTC that I can’t read much in one go – I’m too busy absorbing what I just read, and its all very interesting. Its an important book I think, but not as accessible as ‘So you don’t want to…’ (Wazza – if you prefer a more challenging read, that one might do!)

  9. Hey guys,

    yes, we should get together again soon sometime, eh Specksnplanks?

    I confess to being a ‘ferocious Christian’- I find myself in love with broad Christendom, and find myself as attracted to cassocked gardening monkishness & Joyful African song & dancing as much as to hard-working Protestantism or strident Charismatic faith-healing ; but I find myself most interested in ‘functional Christianity’ more than ‘mystic preoccupations’; ‘super-spiritual’ prayers & declarations or whatever.

    The church I attend seems to work really hard to stir-up the ‘Presence of God’, [something like the opening day of King Solomons Temple], and we stand up and say/sing “come, Holy Spirit”;…
    – this is kind of okay, though I find myself always preoccupied with peoples functional, or even ‘technical’ ‘knowledge of god’, and feel an intense desire to live in intimate harmony with his ‘Created world’…I’m getting so tired of what appears to be ‘religious egotism’, and almost non-functional behaviours at Church; often what we do in Church does not feel in tune with my own spirit, if I search my own inner being sensitively.

    .I often wonder about how Prayer truly functions; for example when we pray over someone who’s been injured or whatever, as if we were trying to move Gods hand to do this or that; this seems right to do, though it doesnt seem right o try and ‘make God ‘ do anything!

    Ive noticed that I now recognize that no Congregation anywhere is going to all get it ‘right’ doctrinally, but am intensely interested that Christian people are known not by their ‘religious attitudes’ but by their warm love for each other; this is when Im most at home at a ‘church’, or any gathering of believers.

    But the dead giveaway for me is that I dont feel keen to evangelise people to come to ‘our church’ with us on Sundays, and a point of most personal concern for me.

    I wonder how many of you are having similar wonderings?

    Z.

  10. “The church I attend seems to work really hard to stir-up the ‘Presence of God’, [something like the opening day of King Solomons Temple], and we stand up and say/sing “come, Holy Spirit”;…
    – this is kind of okay, though I find myself always preoccupied with peoples functional, or even ‘technical’ ‘knowledge of god’, and feel an intense desire to live in intimate harmony with his ‘Created world’…I’m getting so tired of what appears to be ‘religious egotism’, and almost non-functional behaviours at Church; often what we do in Church does not feel in tune with my own spirit, if I search my own inner being sensitively.”

    I’ve been trying to understand this in my prayer life and in scripture.
    I feel so convinced that we shouldn’t be waiting for the holy spirit to ‘come’. It’s not like he comes and goes as he pleases. He’s friggin’ in us and all Christians know this!

    All this stuff about ‘anointing’ and ‘feeling His presence’ is driving me awol. He speaks to me, but he doesn’t send me cuckoo. I’m so good you’ve got something smart and squishy between yours ears Zepp. We need reality in worship and not some grand facade – and that is generally really hard to get too and approach God with in worship or for worship.

  11. This very hour Ive been examining 1Tim1 & 1Tim6 2Tim3 , 1Cor2 with some bros’…

    1Cor2-“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

    -Clearly, its ‘Gods Spirit+Power that we are to centre our message & preaching in’ from the above text–this [ is for most of us, just a little puzzling, yet] feels completely right & good!

    Most ‘churches’ could so easily move closer to this way, presuming they are doing things like 1Tim1:5 well even more-so!

    Z.

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