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So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey

by Wayne Jacobsen

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3711054,390 (3.81)2
What would you do if you met someone you thought just might be one of Jesus' original disciples still living in the 21st century? That's Jake's dilemma as he meets a man who talks of Jesus as if he had known him, and whose way of living challenges everything Jake had previously known. This book is Jake's journal, chronicling thirteen conversations with his newfound friend over a four-year period and how those exchanges turn Jake's world upside-down. With his help, Jake faces his darkest fears, struggles through brutal circumstances and comes out on the other side in the joy and freedom he always dreamed was possible.… (more)
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The author tells a first-person story as a church vicar. The novel is filled with dialogue he has with a stranger who appears to be the Disciple John. The author shows John the Sunday school and church buildings, and John asks "How do you remain a member in good standing here?"

"Consistent attendance, giving, and not living in obvious sin."
"All sins?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well I don't know about this place, but mostly there are some sins that aren't allowed at all--usually sexual sins or teaching something the leaders don't like. But others just as destructive are ignored, such as gossip, arrogance or condemning others. Sometimes those are even rewarded, because we can use those to get people to act the way we want them to."

The vicar realizes "Even our sense of sin was selective. I could see it now. I knew people were able to exploit the system for their own gain, even if it hurt others. I'd done it myself". {48}
  keylawk | Jun 1, 2017 |
This is an incredibly powerful book - and is available free as an e-book as well as being buyable in printed form. It gently looks at why so many Christians are discouraged, or fed up with structured church life, but without in any way criticising the Church as such.

Jake, the main character, relates a series of conversations with an unusual person called John who appears in his life now and again. As he comes to terms with what John is saying, he experiences many struggles in his life until he begins to find a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God.

Not everybody will relate to Jake, and not everybody will reject all forms of structured church... but I still highly recommend this to anyone as probably the most thought-provoking short novel I have ever read.

I enjoyed just as much on re-reading five years later, finding the theology (such as it is) even more helpful and encouraging. There isn't much of a story from the 'novel' point of view, but the life changes that happen - and which can happen to anyone, whether or not they have had enough of structured church - are incredible.

Definitely recommended. ( )
1 vote SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore is a thoroughly irritating book that I read at the request of a friend. The writing is terrible and the surface story is cringeful. There was some interesting content, much of which I agreed with (and some that I questioned), but I didn’t take notes; was absolutely not going to brave the book again to do so; and was not in a particularly receptive mood in the first place, so a lot of the argument was wasted on me. What I came away with in the long run was pretty much what I went in with. ( )
  Sorrel | Oct 7, 2010 |
This book was great! I'd give it 4 1/2 stars if I could! Even though it is a work of fiction, I was skeptical about reading it, thinking it would attempt to talk me out of going to church. Surprisingly, it brought up many valid points that some decisions based on the needs of the church as a building may interfere with the best interests of its members or God. It also made me think a lot about what we, as a society, teach our children.I took away so many amazing messages from this book & haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I read it about a month ago. See for yourself! ( )
  TrishaGer | Oct 5, 2010 |
Challenges the common modern understanding of what is "church" effectively. Reading it might articulate certain frustrations you may have with church but are unable to put your finger on it. I can understand if many reading it will not like it but you must approach it with an open mind and a basic understaning of the Church as it is the body of Christ - not a building, program, or something to do on Sunday but people who share a common faith in the living God who lives in them. I highly recommend pastors and church leaders to read this in order to, if nothing else, at least bring back the focus for which the Church exists.

I placed this book on the same shelf in my library with "The Shack" and "If God Were Real". ( )
  atdCross | Feb 15, 2010 |
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To the Blessed Ones - those today and throughout history who have been insulted, excluded, and lied about for simply following the Lamb beyond the accepted norms of tradition and culture. (See Matthew 5:11)
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At that moment he was the last person I wanted to see.
Quotations
Bingo! Do you know that more than ninety percent of children who grow up in Sunday school leave the congregation when they leave their parents' home? {47}
Can't you see that the trail you're on doesn't go where you've been told it goes? It will make you a good Christian in the eyes of others, but it will not let you know him. {48}
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What would you do if you met someone you thought just might be one of Jesus' original disciples still living in the 21st century? That's Jake's dilemma as he meets a man who talks of Jesus as if he had known him, and whose way of living challenges everything Jake had previously known. This book is Jake's journal, chronicling thirteen conversations with his newfound friend over a four-year period and how those exchanges turn Jake's world upside-down. With his help, Jake faces his darkest fears, struggles through brutal circumstances and comes out on the other side in the joy and freedom he always dreamed was possible.

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