hits counter Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation about Faith, Churches, and Well-Meaning Christians - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation about Faith, Churches, and Well-Meaning Christians

Availability: Ready to download

Jim Henderson pays people to go to church. In fact, he made national news when he “rented” a soul for $504 on E-Bay after its owner offered an “open mind” to the highest bidder. In Jim & Casper Go to Church, Hendrson hires another atheist—Matt Casper—to visit ten leading churches with him and give the “first impression” perspective of a non-believer. What follows is a star Jim Henderson pays people to go to church. In fact, he made national news when he “rented” a soul for $504 on E-Bay after its owner offered an “open mind” to the highest bidder. In Jim & Casper Go to Church, Hendrson hires another atheist—Matt Casper—to visit ten leading churches with him and give the “first impression” perspective of a non-believer. What follows is a startling dialogue between an atheist and a believer seeing church anew through the eyes of a skeptic, and the development of an amazing relationship between two men with diametrically opposing views of the world who agree to respect each others' space. Foreword by George Barna. FEATURES: Unique perspective of both Christian and atheist on the church and Christians in the USA Intelligent and respectful, seeking dialogue between key characters Helps the Christian understand the change in attitudes and actions required when shifting from defending the faith to defending “sacred space”—from talking to listening, from strength to weakness, from debate to dialogue, from manipulation to intentionality


Compare

Jim Henderson pays people to go to church. In fact, he made national news when he “rented” a soul for $504 on E-Bay after its owner offered an “open mind” to the highest bidder. In Jim & Casper Go to Church, Hendrson hires another atheist—Matt Casper—to visit ten leading churches with him and give the “first impression” perspective of a non-believer. What follows is a star Jim Henderson pays people to go to church. In fact, he made national news when he “rented” a soul for $504 on E-Bay after its owner offered an “open mind” to the highest bidder. In Jim & Casper Go to Church, Hendrson hires another atheist—Matt Casper—to visit ten leading churches with him and give the “first impression” perspective of a non-believer. What follows is a startling dialogue between an atheist and a believer seeing church anew through the eyes of a skeptic, and the development of an amazing relationship between two men with diametrically opposing views of the world who agree to respect each others' space. Foreword by George Barna. FEATURES: Unique perspective of both Christian and atheist on the church and Christians in the USA Intelligent and respectful, seeking dialogue between key characters Helps the Christian understand the change in attitudes and actions required when shifting from defending the faith to defending “sacred space”—from talking to listening, from strength to weakness, from debate to dialogue, from manipulation to intentionality

30 review for Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation about Faith, Churches, and Well-Meaning Christians

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I was so excited about this book when Rick & I first decided to read it together. I loved the concept of looking at the church through the eyes of someone who doesn't already love Jesus. In the end, I was very disappointed. It wasn't long before I discovered that Jim & Casper had their own set of prejudices and judgements - something they ridicule most Christians for. While I still love the concept of trying to see our churches through fresh eyes and remember what it's like to be an "outsider", I was so excited about this book when Rick & I first decided to read it together. I loved the concept of looking at the church through the eyes of someone who doesn't already love Jesus. In the end, I was very disappointed. It wasn't long before I discovered that Jim & Casper had their own set of prejudices and judgements - something they ridicule most Christians for. While I still love the concept of trying to see our churches through fresh eyes and remember what it's like to be an "outsider", I didn't appreciate their quick in-and-out take on the churches they visited. As well, their tone seemed to mock the churches they visited as if each one was guilty until proven innocent - especially those that were situated in wealthier areas. In reality, they know nothing about the broad-reaching ministries of some of the churches and the work they do day-in and day-out. Unless it happened to be mentioned during the church servive that particular Sunday - assuming Jim & Casper even stayed for the whole service, which they often did not. As well, one of Casper's main critique's of evangelical churches was that they speak with certainty about the truth of the gospel and that they focus too much on grace and not enough on good deeds in their communities. Yep. Guilty as charged. Those are cornerstone pieces of the Christian faith. And, in that sense, we don't take our cues about the important pieces of church life from an athiest. Of course, he doesn't see value in any kingdom work but the work done now in the physical realm - he's an athiest. We take our cues from the instruction of our Lord and the early apostles. They had both the physical and the spiritual realms in mind. The authors also confounded issues by assuming that certainty meant no dialogue could ever take place - only debate. That's just not true. I can be certain about the resurrection of Jesus and still engage in true dialogue with my friends who would disagree. I wanted to like this book. I really did. But, in the end, I cannot recommend it. Two things I did learn: 1. We need to remember what it feels like to walk into the church for the first time. And then we need to be genuinely senstive to that person. Not with manufactured smiles and official greeters but with a real heart to love people and take the initiative with them. Like hosting a newfound friend in our home for dinner. 2. We need to continually be asking ourselves what our mission is and how our Sunday worship service fits into that mission. We dare not assume a formula and just go through the motions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Chinnici

    I had mixed feelings on this one. The concept was incredibly interesting and it was a quick and easy read but I wanted it to dig a little deeper.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rod Horncastle

    Hmmm, a five star idea for a Christian book. I eventually reduced it to one star - But then the last chapter slightly attempted to deal with some of my concerns. So an atheist and a somewhat failed X-Pentecostal "try anything to fill them pews" Pastor (church consultant?) go and critique a whack of church services. Now we have their non-theological opinions to fuddle through. It seems X-Pastor "Jim" does a fair bit of mocking and zero Biblical theology. Here's how he see's God functioning in toda Hmmm, a five star idea for a Christian book. I eventually reduced it to one star - But then the last chapter slightly attempted to deal with some of my concerns. So an atheist and a somewhat failed X-Pentecostal "try anything to fill them pews" Pastor (church consultant?) go and critique a whack of church services. Now we have their non-theological opinions to fuddle through. It seems X-Pastor "Jim" does a fair bit of mocking and zero Biblical theology. Here's how he see's God functioning in todays world: "We aren't called OFF THE MAP for nothing. We invite people to travel to new places in their spiritual thought life and explore the margins where God is often secretly at work creating the next big idea." Sorry Jim, Just ONE BIG IDEA back in Genesis. "...to provide us with information we need in order to see how important it is for us to become more NORMAL if we hope to truly connect with the people Jesus misses most." YES, Normal Just like Moses, Jesus, Paul and Peter and Elijah. NO matter what these great Bible folks did: people generally hated them. God guarantee's us that. But Jim seems to think if we adjust a few things then we can do a better job than Jesus or Paul OR JONAH. You do remember Jonah right? That guy who had the most successful revival in human history. Zero seeker sensitivity, and he most likely didn't greet people with a sanctuary inviting smile. Just to jog your memory: Jonah 3 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. To be fair: it does help to be the guy who was recently spit out of a whale. I wonder if Jim tried that technique in his quest to fill his churches? __________________ This book is a great useful read - just not for the answers the authors might have intended. And it will also save you the insanity of visiting T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and a few other crap religious and spiritual money machines. So here's the meat of the problem: Are Jesus' church services supposed to make atheists comfortable or busy applauding religious humanism? NO. Church is FOR and ABOUT Christ and the Godhead. Not necessarily US (but it always leads to our LOVE for others). And that is the author's confusion throughout. He seems to think a Christian worship service should include all of our goody deeds and humanistic outreaches. I can go to a pub and hear a bunch of atheists boast about that stuff. I go to a church service to Worship/Learn and Celebrate/commune with my God and with the other Body Of Christ "Saints". The service is NEVER for atheists. Go see Billy Graham in an arena if you want an atheist gathering geared for them. Outreach can happen the rest of the week - but the gathering of the saints is that hourly moment we reach IN. While reading this I kept thinking about the biblical Israelite Temple and THEIR services. Would a liberal and an atheist ever dare to critique those? Remember the 3 people God killed in the Old Testament: 1 Chronicles 13 10The anger of the LORD burned against Uzza, so He struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God.… Leviticus 10 1Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.… I know, I know - God doesn't seem to work like that anymore. God also gave us a complete Bible and removed himself from our services, and then removed the prophets TOO. (we do get the Holy Spirit on occasion). The point is that God was very specific about his worship services. We, of course, have thrown almost all that out the window - in the name of filling pews and paying for Joel Osteen's smile. (I only say that because Tammy Fay Bakker isn't around anymore). Thanks to Jesus we are no longer cooking up all our livestock at church anymore. YES, the Temple curtain was torn when Christ died. Now we have a great deal of freedom (and abuse) in our weekly gatherings. We don't go to hell for simply standing in the wrong spot or picking a boring un-theological hymn. But as this book shows us: there are still a lot of folks dancing around the Golden Calf. Just for fun: and for T.D. Jakes: Here goes the classic Exodus 32 21And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” Yes, i'm sure Jakes, and Osteen are going to attempt the same lame excuse. "Give me YOUR gold...out came this calf?" My perfect church service would probably be horrifically boring to most atheists and liberals AND charismatics: Gather to Sing the Bible, Read the Bible, Teach the Bible, Pray and inspire others in the place to continue to do the same with a relational Jesus. God gave us HIS word (Christ AND scripture). Dwell on both. It is interesting that there's a constant theme of humanism throughout this book. Atheists keep insisting that we Christians would impress them if we did 99% JUST THAT. My bite back is: I thought empathetic Atheists were doing it all? Apparently NOT. They're at the pub assuming us Christians are taking care of it with our soup kitchens and thrift stores and St. Mary's Hospitals and World Relief organizations... and orphanages... prison meetings and schools. Apparently, the minute we fail to do these things the whole church of Jesus crumbles instantly. But Atheists and Liberal Social Humanist church goers have it backwards: Jesus FIRST... then looking after widows, orphans, poor, soldiers, prisoners, sick. I'm still waiting for atheists to pick up some of the slack in these areas... I may be waiting a long time - unless it's government funded and has health benefit packages for the atheists (cuz it's ALL ABOUT EMPATHY). And yet I hear atheists daily insisting they take away church funding and Government assistance. And that would be fine: as long as they look after their own rubble. ____________ I fully enjoyed the atheist "Casper" and his opinions. He's also a musician like myself - so we know how to view a musician and an entertainer's honesty and integrity. A few comments hit on how churches fail to greet visitors. This is a strange challenge in my church as well. Jim and Casper don't seem to clue in on the reality of it: Many churches have about 15% dedicated healthy core members. The other 85% are needy lonely attenders who desire to be loved and included. This means those core people have very little time for visitors --- I have this challenge every week. There's a lot of lonely left out people that love to chat with me. How I wish these folks would connect with the NEW visitors. But they DON'T. Everybody wants to feel special: long term members and NEW. And when we meet folks with laptops - we assume they're from the denomination headquarters and we should spend our time somewhere else. Why didn't they visit John MacArthur's church? Maybe they tried and he told them to leave... go play on your laptops somewhere else: we're here to WORSHIP GOD. It was interesting that they made it to a small variety of churches. The L.A. style one was amusing. quote: (pg. 18) Jim said, "...as far as I understand it anyway, Jesus never intended for the institution we call Christianity to form into a religion." I don't think Jim does understand it. WE need to connect the Old and New Testament. Recall the Jerusalem Temple with a Heavenly one. Know that God expects certain religious obedience's from us. I wonder what does Jim do with this bit of New Testament Jesus' Religion: Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphira being put to death by God: 1But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. 7After an interval of about three hours his wife came in... When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. I wonder how Jim and Casper would deal with this in their laptop assessment? This was very much Jesus' Church. God's not fooling around. I'm Surprised Jakes and Osteen haven't had churches full of dead people from wrong motives. Although, God doesn't necessarily deal with churches that ARE NOT His own... they can do whatever the hell they want - for now. Jim lovingly says, "Jesus came to start a movement that would advance his mission of bringing reality, sanity, and love back to planet Earth..." Is that why God allowed almost all the disciples to be put to death? Actually, the Bible says the goal is to take sanity and LOVE >>> OUT of the Earth and into Jesus Kingly paradise. This Earth certainly isn't getting better... Jim showed us that by all the church chaos he experienced. This place is going to the dogs - and God's wrath is coming. I must compliment much of Atheist Casper's concerns - everything from fake healings, to money grabs, and insincerity. He even notices a lack of Jesus and theology in some places. How the hell do these churches not notice these issues from within>>> I just assume there might not be any actual Christians attending those services, not for long anyway. A real Christian will hunger for the Word of God - and hopefully have at least a smidgen of discernment. Quote: (pg. 51) Helen the almost atheist - "I knew I wasn't a Christian. But OFF THE MAP has helped me understand that I don't have to be a Christian to be a follower of Jesus. Maybe I am still a follower after all!" What the CRAP?! It appears this OFF THE MAP organization has a problem defining the term "Christian". After reading this book i can see HOW. They have no discernment or Biblical standard. Just a typical Social Gospel Humanism. YES, Atheists everywhere are applauding. So what IS a Christian? Similar to what is a Saint? Also similar to Who's in the Body Of Christ? Another group desperate to hide the doctrine of Heaven and Hell - lest anyone come to a Biblical conclusion about what side they are REALLY on. Quote: (pg. 53) When the hymn was over, Casper (the atheist) sat down with a smile. "Ahhhh... feels like home, Jim!" Yes, a fair bit of this book is about how Casper and Jim >>> FEEL. Best not to make religious doctrine or theological assumptions based on your emotions. Often God disagrees with our humanistic insistencies and altruism. Even God occasionally didn't do what He felt... and neither did Jonah, and we know King David shouldn't have done what he felt. ___________ This book gives us a few examples of poorly understood doctrine causing havoc. For instance: Casper said, "...the Catholic church my dad's family belonged to had just stopped doing baptisms in Latin. So my dad got to hear the words loud and clear. And when he saw this innocent little baby and heard the priest talking about casting sin out of this beautiful, harmless creature, he just couldn't see the sense in it." (I'll deal with this baby: Is it really innocent? Did they really cast sin out of it? Does God send babies to hell? Are they harmless? There was no Biblical sense in what the priest was doing. Now if you want to discuss making this infant an Israelite -- that's another issue.) This shows the horrendous theology of most atheists (and Catholics, as well as your typical church goer). For this, I look forward to reading Jim and Casper's other book. It's amazing how many people think they are leaving a Christian church because of some issue they never properly understood. Or in the case of this books journey - they never even realized they weren't EVEN IN A CHRISTIAN CHURCH. OR they were being taught by a lazy humanist non-biblical theologian. Quote: (pg. 65) Jim - "...that they are obeying what Jesus told us to do: Bring the kingdom of God to Earth." I wish Jim would have posted some Bible verses to justify his claims. Giving a homeless guy a donut doesn't equal bringing the Kingdom to Earth. Neither does any other secular materialistic need necessarily. Okay, I know what everyone is saying: "How dare somebody question another's claims to abstract Jesus' following." Or in street-slang "Jesus following is whatever I want it to be!" Here's the problem: many differing religions and do-gooders claim a claim on Jesus. Mormon's have a polygamist Jesus, J.W.'s have a Michael the Archangel in a Jesus suit, every cult has a Jesus that speaks their babble. Catholics have a distant Jesus...better to ask His Mom. Buddhists and Hindu's have an Avatar Jesus that spoke some Cosmic truth. Muslims have a Jesus that was born of a virgin but can't match up to the Prophet Muhammad. And Christians have the Jesus of THE BIBLE. (then there's the endless Jesus confusion from Charismatics and liberals). It seems Jim has a Jesus partially from the Bible. The parts he likes anyway. Does He agree with the Biblical Jesus putting Anannias & Sapphira to death (as the foundation of the New Testament church?) I'm not so sure. I hope so. This IS All about His church after all - isn't it? Okay, last issue. Page 103 was somewhat horrifying. From Beliefs To Spirituality. ..."Today...people are more and more comfortable talking about their spirituality and less and less comfortable talking about beliefs or religion... since Jesus had no interest in religion other than his cultural connection to it. Jesus was constantly relating with people who did not hold his beliefs or practice Jewish religion... focused on spiritual realities without playing the religion/beliefs card." YES, Jim applauds people being comfortable. Don't recall that bit in my Bible. Jim constantly forgets THE ENTIRE BIBLE is a doctrine of religion >>> From Genesis to Revelation, Baptism to the lord's Supper, Jesus being the ONLY way AND TRUTH, and the specifics of Heaven and Hell and Judgement. Sorry Jim, but there's a whole lot of religion around Jesus. Even the Thief on the Cross had some serious correct religious doctrine in his relationship with Jesus. Simply confusing love and sin and claiming to be spiritual does not equal entrance into Jesus' Kingdom. Most spiritual people I meet don't appreciate the idea of a Biblical Jesus actually having His own Kingdom. That's just selfish and doesn't agree with their open-minded Jesus spirituality - you know, that stuff Jim seems to applaud. Okay, done. This is still a fun book to read. Lots of insights and a few good laughs. AS long as pastors don't take it seriously and start reformatting their churches> Unless theologically required.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christa

    I will say I was interested in what Casper had to say about his experiences (even if I didn't like what he said) so the book kept my attention. I thought they went to too many large churches which is not really representative of the majority of Christian churches in America. I think the average American Christian attends a relatively small church every Sunday and I don't think that was adequately covered in the book. Some of the complaints that Casper had are, quite frankly, things that cannot and I will say I was interested in what Casper had to say about his experiences (even if I didn't like what he said) so the book kept my attention. I thought they went to too many large churches which is not really representative of the majority of Christian churches in America. I think the average American Christian attends a relatively small church every Sunday and I don't think that was adequately covered in the book. Some of the complaints that Casper had are, quite frankly, things that cannot and should not be changed about church. There will be talk about the blood of Jesus because that is the only thing that redeems us and salvation is a gift that you don't have to do anything to earn. It seemed the only thing Casper wanted to see was people talking about all the wonderful things they did in the community. I'm sure many of the Chritians in those churches do those wonderful things but the Bible says to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so I don't think that is something that should be proclaimed from the pulpit every week. One thing I found interesting is that Casper appreciated the Pastor that preached straight from a section of the Bible and didn't just choose verses that supported his chosen topic. He felt, and I agree, that if we claim to follow the Bible and hold it in high esteem then we should use that as our source of material within the right context. This book should be taken for what it is; one man's opinion. Others may really like the things he hated.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    Readers can figure out pretty quickly what they are getting with this book (the shtick stays the shtick throughout the book), and while it is now a bit dated I found some parts of it helpful. I came away with two ideas to ponder raised in the course of the book. First, when it comes to schools and other learning communities, it is often taken to be a good thing that people have a *low* teacher to student ratio whereas in churches, success is often measured by having much high ratios. Perhaps man Readers can figure out pretty quickly what they are getting with this book (the shtick stays the shtick throughout the book), and while it is now a bit dated I found some parts of it helpful. I came away with two ideas to ponder raised in the course of the book. First, when it comes to schools and other learning communities, it is often taken to be a good thing that people have a *low* teacher to student ratio whereas in churches, success is often measured by having much high ratios. Perhaps many churches should re-think their stance on this. Of course, the Church should grow in numbers but that doesn't entail that your church should grow in numbers. Dorothy Day emphasizes it regularly in her writings on what Christians should be up to, and I think it is for good reason. Second, the book suggests that churches regularly invite insiders and atheists or skeptics to visit (even if it means paying them to do so) and write some substantive remarks about what they observe and how they are treated, possibly posting these remarks online for the congregation and the community to consider. Taking up that role themselves, the book's authors demonstrate just how bizarre some church's practices can seem to Christian visitors and non-believers. As other reviewers have rightly noted, several of the conversations between people are pretty wooden, and the reviews of the churches they provide are more sketchy and impressionistic than I was hoping for (so choose your professional Christian and atheist visitors carefully!). I also can't say that I enjoyed the company of both of the authors, though if one did then the book would be more enjoyable. That said, it was a fairly gentle and well-meaning tract that prompted some reflection, and I think that many pastors and other church leaders could benefit from breezing through this, taking note of some family resemblances they might find to their own communities.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    I don’t know why, but my niece Gabi is interested in religion, thus she and I are visiting a different church every Sunday (well, almost every Sunday). We had only been to two or three churches when a friend brought Jim & Casper to my attention and it’s been the perfect book to accompany Gabi’s and my own little project. The introduction is by far the richest part of the book, where Henderson explains his growth from a Three B’s pastor (buildings, budgets, and butts in the seats) to an evangelist I don’t know why, but my niece Gabi is interested in religion, thus she and I are visiting a different church every Sunday (well, almost every Sunday). We had only been to two or three churches when a friend brought Jim & Casper to my attention and it’s been the perfect book to accompany Gabi’s and my own little project. The introduction is by far the richest part of the book, where Henderson explains his growth from a Three B’s pastor (buildings, budgets, and butts in the seats) to an evangelist trying to “help convert Christians, to provide [Christians] with the information we need in order to …truly connect with the people Jesus misses most.” He eventually hires Casper to attend a wide cross-section of churches in different parts of the country and to provide his impressions of these churches from an atheistic perspective. I share many of Casper’s sentiments. For instance, at Willow Creek he says “Did I just hear him say that he landed an interview with Bono because people were praying for it?... it seems like a gaudy use of the power of prayer. An interview with Bono?” Again, at Saddleback, Rick Warren’s mega-church (or what Jim calls the Super-Bowl of churches) Casper asks “Where is the call to action? The challenge to make this world a better place? Even when Tom told the story of his father coming to Christ, it was not about what his father did or how he emulated Jesus’ example. The message was that you don’t have to do anything. Just say a prayer, use the magic words and you’re in.” Casper isn’t “saved” in the end, but he does help Jim formulate a plan to “make the church a more welcoming place to the people Jesus misses the most.” And even though Casper remains “lost”, he has forced Jim to consider the pestering question of “is this what Jesus told you guys to do?”

  7. 4 out of 5

    LeAnne

    Jim (a Christian) hires Casper (an atheist) to go to church with him and give his honest reaction. They visit a variety of churches all over the US and evaluate friendliness, music, message, etc. Very informative. Although there are a couple medium sized churches and a house group, most of the churches are mega-churches. However, those are the churches whose methods most of us are trying to emulate (if it worked for them [as in thousands of members], maybe it will work for us), so that is probab Jim (a Christian) hires Casper (an atheist) to go to church with him and give his honest reaction. They visit a variety of churches all over the US and evaluate friendliness, music, message, etc. Very informative. Although there are a couple medium sized churches and a house group, most of the churches are mega-churches. However, those are the churches whose methods most of us are trying to emulate (if it worked for them [as in thousands of members], maybe it will work for us), so that is probably fair. Some of Casper’s conclusions were surprising, like too slick a show doesn’t communicate heart. The most staid First Presbyterian was the service that moved him the most because it reminded him of his childhood when his mother used to take him to church sometimes. In all their visits only one or two people approached them voluntarily. Official greeters with big smiles don’t count. The suggestion was to do away with the greeters and tell everyone to greet at least three people they don’t know every Sunday. The question that came up time after time was “Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?” Casper wanted to see more of a call to make a difference in the world, even though he admitted that he probably didn’t have time for it himself. Even the churches with huge outreach programs failed (in Casper’s eyes in that particular service) to communicate a challenge to the individual in the pew to make a difference today. I was struck by the contrast between outreach and “in-reach.” Outreach seeks to draw people into our group. In-reach seeks to infiltrate their group with what I (not Casper) would call “salt and light.” Quick read, full of humor, but very thought provoking, although I admit, I as put off by the frequent use of each other's name sin dialogue. The difference in their comments was quite sufficient to let us know who was talking.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I suppose it shouldn't have surprised me, but it still did: in a book advertised as a balanced, open discussion about church between a pastor and an atheist, the pastor did most of the talking. He certainly was more respectful to the atheist viewpoint than most Christians, and for that, I'm thankful. But I think he told a pretty big fib near the beginning of the book. Before they embarked on their Churchapalooza tour, Casper the Friendly Atheist said that he would be open minded about what he exp I suppose it shouldn't have surprised me, but it still did: in a book advertised as a balanced, open discussion about church between a pastor and an atheist, the pastor did most of the talking. He certainly was more respectful to the atheist viewpoint than most Christians, and for that, I'm thankful. But I think he told a pretty big fib near the beginning of the book. Before they embarked on their Churchapalooza tour, Casper the Friendly Atheist said that he would be open minded about what he experienced, and leave the possibility open that he might change his views. He asked Jim-the-Preacher if he could approach the project with an equally open mind. Jim asserted that he could, and would-- and I didn't believe that for a nanosecond.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Stringer

    I enjoyed reading this and experiencing Sunday morning worship, something that is completely normal for most practicing Christians, through the eyes of someone who does not believe in Jesus. Casper is the kind of person most of us would be encouraged to bring to church so that he could be saved, but what does he see when he looks at us? Not much that makes him think Jesus is worth following. Whether you agree with Casper's conclusions or write him off as someone who's never going to 'get it' bec I enjoyed reading this and experiencing Sunday morning worship, something that is completely normal for most practicing Christians, through the eyes of someone who does not believe in Jesus. Casper is the kind of person most of us would be encouraged to bring to church so that he could be saved, but what does he see when he looks at us? Not much that makes him think Jesus is worth following. Whether you agree with Casper's conclusions or write him off as someone who's never going to 'get it' because he's not a Christian, this book is thought provoking.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Krisula

    for the atheist: Interesting insights into the lives of your churched friends. For the Christian: Directions on "how not to be a jerk" and insight into how your world view might seem wierd to those who believe differently from you. For my friends - Guess which category I fall into - if we haven't talked recently you might be surprised. for the atheist: Interesting insights into the lives of your churched friends. For the Christian: Directions on "how not to be a jerk" and insight into how your world view might seem wierd to those who believe differently from you. For my friends - Guess which category I fall into - if we haven't talked recently you might be surprised.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Jim, a former pastor, and Matt Casper, an atheist, travel around the country to several famous and not-so-famous churches to determine how the church environment and service feels/looks to an atheist.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    It's not that this book tells you new things about contemporary church that might need re-thinking. It's that it confirms the things about church that bothered you already... It's not that this book tells you new things about contemporary church that might need re-thinking. It's that it confirms the things about church that bothered you already...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark Oppenlander

    Jim Henderson is a pastor who wanted to understand how non-believers viewed his church. So he paid atheists $25 to attend a worship service and then write a review. In 2006, he took the concept one step further and put out an ad. He wished to recruit one bona fide atheist to accompany him on a road trip to a number of churches across the country and to engage him in conversation about what they experienced. He got Matt Casper, a marketing copywriter from San Diego, California, who was willing to Jim Henderson is a pastor who wanted to understand how non-believers viewed his church. So he paid atheists $25 to attend a worship service and then write a review. In 2006, he took the concept one step further and put out an ad. He wished to recruit one bona fide atheist to accompany him on a road trip to a number of churches across the country and to engage him in conversation about what they experienced. He got Matt Casper, a marketing copywriter from San Diego, California, who was willing to take him up on the challenge. Over the course of a summer, the two of them visited Rick Warren's Saddleback, an emerging church in Portland, Joel Osteen's Lakewood, a surfer house church in San Diego and more. They attended mainstream Protestant churches, Pentecostal churches, small churches, mega churches and everything in between. This book chronicles the visits and their conversations. I work with college students at a faith-based University, but in a very secular city. One long-standing trend I see with this demographic is that many young people today are skeptical or even outright disdainful of organized religion. The observations made by Casper in this book will come as no surprise to them. His main points can be summed up in two brief statements: Christians should be more real and authentic and Christians should actually do the stuff Jesus told them to do. That's it. Fortunately, Casper is an entertaining conversationalist and raconteur and Henderson is a decent interviewer and a congenial and humble tour guide. Each of them brings a point of view to the church visits, and their dialogue is actually quite entertaining. They critique the music, the messages and the ministries of the various churches they go to, and often find themselves in alignment. For never doubt: Just because Casper doesn't believe in God does not mean he hasn't read the Bible or doesn't understand what Jesus said. And his clear-eyed observations of Christian behavior, church lingo and more are often spot on and very, very funny. It's as if a cultural anthropologist from another part of the world came for a visit to American churches and started making field notes. I found myself reading aloud passages to my wife on a number of occasions, mostly just because they were funny or insightful. It's that kind of book. I don't know if I agree with my friend Chris that "every Christian should read this book." For a number of my friends who are committed to an authentic and gimmick-free Christianity, they might find this redundant or even a bit grating. By the latter half of the book, Matt and Casper's observations become a bit more predictable and pedantic. Still, it's a great reminder that what a Christian sees when they walk into a church on a Sunday morning and what a non-believer sees are very different. And if we want to make the spaces safe for both types, we Christians may need to adjust our behaviors. This is a quick, fun read for anyone who has ever questioned whether the way we "do church" works or not.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donna Craig

    This book was enjoyable and insightful. I appreciated the atheist’s perspective on each of the churches they visited. I recommend this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Todd Wilhelm

    Great read. I really liked the book. I appreciated the honesty of Matt Casper. "Casper asked me how I could follow someone who’s not around, and I told him that Jesus is around—he’s everywhere. “I’ve heard that before,” said Casper. “And I’m sure that Pastor Appel would say the exact same thing. So let me be more specific: If Jesus is everywhere, and everyone here is following him, what do you think this enlightened, impassioned, and above all, humble carpenter from Galilee would say about Plexig Great read. I really liked the book. I appreciated the honesty of Matt Casper. "Casper asked me how I could follow someone who’s not around, and I told him that Jesus is around—he’s everywhere. “I’ve heard that before,” said Casper. “And I’m sure that Pastor Appel would say the exact same thing. So let me be more specific: If Jesus is everywhere, and everyone here is following him, what do you think this enlightened, impassioned, and above all, humble carpenter from Galilee would say about Plexiglas dunking tanks, millionaire pastors, camera cranes, and music coming straight outta Branson? Is this what Jesus had in mind for church?”" -page 45-46 "After finishing his report from the conference, the pastor asked the deacon and elders who had just been elected to come forward. Helen listened as the new leaders pledged their allegiance to God, the church, and the congregation. “How can they possibly keep all these promises?” she asked. She told me that it reminded her of the promises she had made to various churches over the years. At the time she thought nothing of it. Now she was wondering why she had so unquestioningly given virtual strangers such authority over her." -page 53 “There are a lot of those kinds of decisions and rituals that make up the fabric of what has come to be called Christianity in our country. It’s sometimes difficult to separate what’s Christian from what’s simply American.” -page 57 "As a Christian, I’ve often wondered how churches can use the same words, claim the same beliefs, and declare themselves to be totally committed to Christ and yet be so different in the values they present and the practices they undertake." -page 61 “This isn’t just a group of people trying to be nice, or talking about doing good, or even simply doing good works to earn a spot in heaven. The people of Lawndale seem to really believe that when they build a home for a low-income person in an abandoned neighborhood—or when they build a health clinic or a day-care center or a school—they are obeying what Jesus told us to do: Bring the Kingdom of God to Earth.” -page 64 “Churches using technology to communicate better doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. “What was bothering me at those churches was the amount of money that was clearly being spent on technology and equipment, which I see as vain at best, hypocritical at worst. How are you helping others by spending your offering money on a Hollywood stage show?" -page 67 "An ironic thing about churches like Lawndale is that because they have chosen to pour their limited resources back into the local community, many outside of that community have never heard of them." -page 71 "We often forget the restraint Jesus exercised and the weakness he exhibited. Jesus spent the first 90 percent of his life living an ordinary existence so that no one could ever accuse him of not being able to identify with all of us ordinary types. Yet this is rarely mentioned. We skip right to Calvary and the Resurrection. It’s as if his first thirty years have nothing significant to teach us. The final ministry years are the tip of the Incarnation, the visible interaction of humanity and divinity, but the first thirty years are just as vital to understanding what God looks like when he is living a life more like the one we live. Defending the space involves embracing the ordinariness of our lives instead of pretending to be something that we’re not. When we practice leading with weakness rather than strength, we let God be the strong one." -page 72 "How do you differentiate between Christians you do respect and those you don’t?” “Jason doesn’t have a big church or a million bucks or ten trips to Africa under his belt, but I see firsthand—almost every time we speak or get together—that he walks the walk." -page 75 "Although we had arrived late, we hadn’t missed the main attraction at Mars Hill, Pastor Mark Driscoll. ...Apparently, in his pre-Christ days, Mark was something of a pugilist, which makes it easy to understand his approach to preaching. He appears to have simply replaced his fists with his words." -page 97-98 “I understand that Christians believe Jesus was free of sin, but my impression is that he didn’t focus on that. He wasn’t like, ‘Look at me! No sin at all! Be just like me!’ Based on what I’ve read, his main thing was going out and helping the poor in spirit and those who were suffering, and instructing others to do the same.” -page 100

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Willis

    Great premise and some interesting (but not surprising) insights into the state of the modern church. Overall, it was a little disjointed and a little repetitive, never really reached anything beyond passing first impressions.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    I have two very strong, opposite opinions on this book. First, I think the idea is brilliant (a former pastor and an atheist visit and candidly review various churches) and the unfiltered perspectives from Casper are invaluable to all followers of Christ. I was personally affected in the ways I'm thinking about what's important and what's not regarding the church I am part of, and in how I can genuinely connect with those that don't share my faith. Second, I am very disappointed that Jim and Barna I have two very strong, opposite opinions on this book. First, I think the idea is brilliant (a former pastor and an atheist visit and candidly review various churches) and the unfiltered perspectives from Casper are invaluable to all followers of Christ. I was personally affected in the ways I'm thinking about what's important and what's not regarding the church I am part of, and in how I can genuinely connect with those that don't share my faith. Second, I am very disappointed that Jim and Barna felt that including the names of the churches and pastors that they visited would be better than keeping them anonymous. I personally see this as disrespectful and irresponsible. While Jim and Casper lambasted various churches and pastors by name for a vast array of transgressions, I believe that Jim (Casper is immune, he just did what he was paid to do, and quite well) transgressed most grievously. One of the most insidious practices infecting the Church today is OUR tendency to analyze high-visibility churches, pastors, and ministries and wag our heads at all that they are doing wrong or for the wrong reasons. Although I certainly agree with much of what I read, I was truly aghast at some of the incredibly critical and insulting statements made about churches and individuals that are MAKING A DIFFERENCE. I understand that the point of this book was to have a no-holds-barred look at how an atheist views churches. I am fine with that. I don't feel the need to justify all that Casper saw, or even censor his perspectives so that people don't find out that the Church isn't perfect. I think that reading a completely unedited account of his experience is richly invaluable. BUT, out of respect for churches and pastors that are serving, leave the names out- what would be lost by that? I am just getting started in ministry, but if in twenty five years I decide that being a pastor isn't for me, I hope that I don't decide that the best next step for me is to publish a book about all the things that get on my nerves about the most successful churches and pastors in America BY NAME, and then hide behind an atheist to make it cool. I think that's a cheap shot, and does more damage than good to the Church that for whatever reason Jesus decided to build with imperfect humans.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike Paschal

    This book is a very quick read. I felt like I was walking right through the churches along with Jim and Casper. I knew that what I was about to read would make me re-think alot of my typical ideas and assumptions of "first time guest", but what I found was what I describe as disturbing. I finished the book about an hour ago and already had a 30 min conversation with my wife about its content, yet there is one thing you must remember when reading. This is one man's opinion and he attended one ser This book is a very quick read. I felt like I was walking right through the churches along with Jim and Casper. I knew that what I was about to read would make me re-think alot of my typical ideas and assumptions of "first time guest", but what I found was what I describe as disturbing. I finished the book about an hour ago and already had a 30 min conversation with my wife about its content, yet there is one thing you must remember when reading. This is one man's opinion and he attended one service. There are many observations that were made that I did not make when I attended church for the first time. Although, don't push the observations to the side because most people visit your church once and never come back. This book is packed full of the reasons why and we have the choice to ignore them and continue on each and every week with out typical order of service. Quotes that Stuck Out: "If you're going to be a 'community' church, serve your community." "I realized that 'get saved' evangelism was designed for suburban folk. It had little meaning in an urban context... People in the city are not encumbered primarily with feeling of guilt. Their deepest feelings are of hopelessness." "Inbreaking is joining an existing community in action, while outreaching is inviting them to join yours." "And the lyrics? 'Hope Changes Everything'? What does that mean? Hope changes nothing expect your own feelings. Action changes everything." I think the light show and all that, for me anyway, does less to attract and connect me than to disconnect me." "Rather than talking down to people we're trying to influence, we'd be wise to remember that just because they don't have God, it doesn't mean they have no soul." But check out the people here. No one moving, a few people clapping in time-sort of. This stuff doesn't seem to be doing anything for anybody. And they played a U2 song!"

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    So far I find this very interesting hearing the perspectives of both gentlemen, the Christian and the atheist. I have to agree with the atheist, that at times there are too many self-professed Christians that do not actually practice what I would call Christianity. I like that they have included the names of the churches because, there shouldn't be anything to hide at those churches and this is, after all, just the perspective of two people. Many, many others may have different opinions. Now tha So far I find this very interesting hearing the perspectives of both gentlemen, the Christian and the atheist. I have to agree with the atheist, that at times there are too many self-professed Christians that do not actually practice what I would call Christianity. I like that they have included the names of the churches because, there shouldn't be anything to hide at those churches and this is, after all, just the perspective of two people. Many, many others may have different opinions. Now that I am close to finishing the book, I would like to say that I don't think one visit to a church gives the visitor a complete and accurate picture or representation of what the church is like. Everyone has off days. I am not a regular church goer, although I do consider myself to be spiritual. I have to say that I watch Joel Osteen on occasion and I find his self help messages to be uplifting. Both Jim and Casper describe him as being quite innocuous with his sermons. They do not believe that his sermons do anything to either offend or to enlighten anyone. I disagree to a point. I am not a regular follower of Tony Robbins, but it sounds like Jim and Casper are as they compare Joel Osteen's preaching to Tony Robbin's self help seminars. Perhaps these things do not have to be mutually exclusive. Perhaps one can be taught self help as well as being taught the teachings of Christ. After all, wouldn't it be a better world if we all cared enough for ourselves and others to stop some of our derogatory behaviors? In the end, I liked this book, but I found it interesting that the Christian author had such a strong affiliation to what he called 'black' churches and not so much with 'white' churches. I agree with the 'athiest' again on this one. Why are we so segregated when it comes to church? Shouldn't Christians be the first ones to do away with such actions? I am still wondering who really 'walks the talk?'

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shauna

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I don't usually go in for the spoiler reviews. However, as a Christian who attends a Pentecostal church, though I am NOT Pentecostal, I feel I have to get this out there. I have regularly attended services in several denominations and the "line up" or agenda seemed pretty much the same. As I read the book, I found myself relating to Casper (the atheist) and wondering why I attend church at all as he and I share the same issues with the American Christian church: Contemporary worship music is dev I don't usually go in for the spoiler reviews. However, as a Christian who attends a Pentecostal church, though I am NOT Pentecostal, I feel I have to get this out there. I have regularly attended services in several denominations and the "line up" or agenda seemed pretty much the same. As I read the book, I found myself relating to Casper (the atheist) and wondering why I attend church at all as he and I share the same issues with the American Christian church: Contemporary worship music is devoid of meaning. The sermons are also lacking in content. The whole staff looks so polished that it is hard to believe that anyone is sincere. And, they all want your money and these "requests" are often couched in a way that it seems that the only way to be blessed by God is to give the church tons of money. There is a serious disconnect between what Jesus asked His church TO DO and what it currently DOES. The insight that brought the most impact to me was when Casper says, "Blood, blood, blood. Imagine if Christians heard a Muslim singing about blood all the time. I bet they'd get kind of freaked out." I mean, having been raised in church, this is just the essence of why we gather. I never really stopped to think how someone else might view it. However, to a non believer, I can see that it would be disturbing to hear about death, blood, drinking blood, and eating flesh described in the awed tones that it is I can see that could cause a freak out barrier to be built. In short, I understand now why believers turn away from the church and, it turns out, the reasons do not differ all that much from the atheist who does not desire to attend at all. If we are turning our own people off by the droves, is it any wonder that we cannot reach the "lost" and bring them into the fold?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    You're not going to like or agree with everything in this book. That's why you should read it. If you love the local church, that's another reason to read it. Long story short, Jim, a believer, and Matt Casper, an atheist, travel to several different churches and give us their feedback and perspective. Granted, it's a little dangerous to make conclusions after one church service, but then again, most first-time visitors do just that. Here are some takeaways -- "Hidden in every new idea are the se You're not going to like or agree with everything in this book. That's why you should read it. If you love the local church, that's another reason to read it. Long story short, Jim, a believer, and Matt Casper, an atheist, travel to several different churches and give us their feedback and perspective. Granted, it's a little dangerous to make conclusions after one church service, but then again, most first-time visitors do just that. Here are some takeaways -- "Hidden in every new idea are the seeds of its demise. While defending the faith started out as a good idea, most Christians know that when you start defending the faith, you start losing friends... We don't need another book on defending the faith. We need a book on defending the space -- the sacred relational space that occurs when two people trust each other. When two people begin to trust each other, they can learn to like each other. And when that happens, the rules change - and then people change. " "The shift from defending the faith to defending the space shifts when we move * from talking to listening. * from debate to dialogue * from manipulation to intentionality." "Imago Dei church is not trying to get you to join them, they are trying to join you." I was also reminded that we have to constantly watch our insider language. Often, Casper, the atheist, had no idea what people were talking about. Casper also wasn't interested in what we believed. He was more interested in what we are doing. At the end of most of the church services, Casper would ask Jim, "Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?" Thought-provoking question. Again, you won't agree with everything but it will challenge you in a very helpful way.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I am a spiritual but nonreligious person. I'd be one of those "non-christians" that the book refers to. I believe in greater things than myself, but I'm not so sure that those greater things necessarily care if we believe in them, but more that they would want us to live good lives. I think that the point of this book is something similar, at least the last part of that sentence. The basis of the book is that Jim (christian) pays Casper (atheist) to attend churches with him in order to get an out I am a spiritual but nonreligious person. I'd be one of those "non-christians" that the book refers to. I believe in greater things than myself, but I'm not so sure that those greater things necessarily care if we believe in them, but more that they would want us to live good lives. I think that the point of this book is something similar, at least the last part of that sentence. The basis of the book is that Jim (christian) pays Casper (atheist) to attend churches with him in order to get an outsider's perspective. To a certain extent, the book is limited in it's ability to portray churches, since they are mostly in the Western part of the country and attending a certain type of church. However, I think many of the points that Casper makes is what Jim is trying to show to fellow Christians: churches as a community need to be more open minded about the way things are done and the way people live their lives. I think I enjoyed the book so much because Jim isn't trying to convert the atheists or the reader (though most readers would be Christian, or is assumed to be by the author). Jim is saying "yeah, it'd be great if they joined the flock, but isn't it better to listen to what they have to say and see if you can improve their lives? And maybe that way they will find God and Jesus, but that shouldn't be the reason you're listening. You should listen because it's the best thing to do." The writing was mediocre and had a nasty habit of them referring to each other by name, even when it was obvious who was talking, but otherwise an easy read (I read it in 2 days). I may even attend a church group's book discussion on it. That would be interesting!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mitzi

    A veteran preacher invites an atheist to visit 12 churches with him over a two-month period. The intent is not to convert him, but to hear with an open mind how a skeptic views churches and the Christian faith. This move from "defending the faith" to "defending the space" of open dialogue is refreshing. Many times in response to seemingly non-sensical aspects of some forms of worship (fog machines, light shows, etc.), Casper the friendly atheist asks, "Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?" It A veteran preacher invites an atheist to visit 12 churches with him over a two-month period. The intent is not to convert him, but to hear with an open mind how a skeptic views churches and the Christian faith. This move from "defending the faith" to "defending the space" of open dialogue is refreshing. Many times in response to seemingly non-sensical aspects of some forms of worship (fog machines, light shows, etc.), Casper the friendly atheist asks, "Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?" It's a haunting question. I give the book 4 stars because it made me rethink how we discuss faith with one another and gave me a better understanding of how non-church-goers interpret the church experience. The dialogue often seems contrived -- as if rewritten from memory and not from actual recordings or diligent note-taking. This is annoying, but does not detract from the importance of the ideas. My other complaint is that Jim and Casper mostly vist extremely large churches such as Saddleack, Mars Hill, LA's Dream Center, and Osteen's Lakewood in Houston (which gets skewered by both.)They only visit one traditional church (which suprprisingly is the favored one by Casper who belts out the age-old hymns.) If you're curious about how to better discuss your faith or lack of it with others in a way that engenders genuine respect, read this. I'd liek to see a better-written versin that delves a little deeper and is more inclusive but this light read is a good start.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    My life group and church WANTS to look crazy. We want to look completely nut-so, giving our money, time and things away to people who need them. We don't always do these things. Unfortunately "outsiders" see Christians doing the same thing that other Americans are doing. They are buying fancy cars, bigger houses and going for that great career. This is not the picture of God's Kingdom on earth. We need to look completely head-over-heels in love with the Creator. Our churches should be welcoming, My life group and church WANTS to look crazy. We want to look completely nut-so, giving our money, time and things away to people who need them. We don't always do these things. Unfortunately "outsiders" see Christians doing the same thing that other Americans are doing. They are buying fancy cars, bigger houses and going for that great career. This is not the picture of God's Kingdom on earth. We need to look completely head-over-heels in love with the Creator. Our churches should be welcoming, inclusive to those who come in our doors and we need to be transparent, revealing that we are not perfect: we need help, we need a Savior. That kind of surrender and complete worship of the Lord will show people, atheists, unbelievers what God wants to see. Love. Compassion. Mercy. This book helps bring this to sharp focus for us. Christians need to know how they look to the outside world. There's a saying in my church, "You might be the only Bible that someone reads." That's a hefty responsibility. We need to take seriously the yoke of Evangelism. I'm eager to read more of Henderson's work. There were some things in this book I did NOT agree with, but the book as a whole got its point across: that the Church needs to be a Church of integrity.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Gorgone

    A few nights ago I watched a 60 Minutes look at a certain celebrity pastor. The more I watched him say just the right things and answer the questions with just the right amount of savvy I realized how glad I don't attend this persons church. Even the reporter noticed that this person managed to take Jesus almost entirely out of the equation. To which this pastor replied: "I use some scripture to back up my claim." And it was amazing to see this huge impressive building, rennovated with about $100 A few nights ago I watched a 60 Minutes look at a certain celebrity pastor. The more I watched him say just the right things and answer the questions with just the right amount of savvy I realized how glad I don't attend this persons church. Even the reporter noticed that this person managed to take Jesus almost entirely out of the equation. To which this pastor replied: "I use some scripture to back up my claim." And it was amazing to see this huge impressive building, rennovated with about $100 million dollars with light shows, waterfalls, stadium seatings, a podium (not a pulpit), and no cross. With all its impressiveness the building looked so cold and uninviting. A place where a Christian can go to hide, get cotton candy preaching, and never have to spend any real time with any member of his church. I am grateful for the church I have. An insightful look into the modern evangelical movement. Definitely worth a read. He looks at all the biggies like the emergent movement, Saddleback, Olesteen, etc through an atheists eyes. And throughout he asks the question, "Is this what Jesus taught?"

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I hardly ever write reviews, but I was so annoyed after only 58 pages that I couldn't keep reading. Here's a taste of the dialogue from a SINGLE page (notice a trend?): "I bet a lot of those people would be relieved to not have to be nice every Sunday, Jim." "That's where the 'just say hi' part comes in, Cas." "What's that, Jim?" "Just say hi, Casper." "Sounds kind of canned, Jim... I see where you're coming from, Jim." I suspect that because no one ACTUALLY talks like that, the use of the other perso I hardly ever write reviews, but I was so annoyed after only 58 pages that I couldn't keep reading. Here's a taste of the dialogue from a SINGLE page (notice a trend?): "I bet a lot of those people would be relieved to not have to be nice every Sunday, Jim." "That's where the 'just say hi' part comes in, Cas." "What's that, Jim?" "Just say hi, Casper." "Sounds kind of canned, Jim... I see where you're coming from, Jim." I suspect that because no one ACTUALLY talks like that, the use of the other person's name at the end of virtually every single sentence was a device intended to let the reader know who was speaking. But you know what? I'm not stupid. I can keep up. I'm capable of following a conversation and keeping track of who's talking, especially when I'm reading a book in which one person spews outdated nonsense (the Christian) and one speaks common sense (the atheist). I fully appreciate the concept of this book, but why don't you leave the writing of the book to someone who can actually write?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Beth Melillo

    Hilarious! I loved this book and thought it was a good jumping off point for a bigger discussion. Definitely recommend. That said, I don't think the churches that Jim and Caspar attended are representative of the entirety of American Protestant/Evangelical Church tradition. They went to mostly big, well known, non-denom churches. Sure, this is a trend in American church attendance, and a good way to introduce someone (especially a "serious" Atheist of a person under the age of 40 to church.) But Hilarious! I loved this book and thought it was a good jumping off point for a bigger discussion. Definitely recommend. That said, I don't think the churches that Jim and Caspar attended are representative of the entirety of American Protestant/Evangelical Church tradition. They went to mostly big, well known, non-denom churches. Sure, this is a trend in American church attendance, and a good way to introduce someone (especially a "serious" Atheist of a person under the age of 40 to church.) But it's kind of like saying to someone "I'm going to introduce you to good American cooking" and proceed to invite them to the most famous American chain stores like McDonalds, Wendys, Panera, ... sure there's variety among those and lots of Americans eat at chains like that, but it doesn't reflect idiosyncrasies, or mom-and-pop chains. Jim touches on why they chose the churches they did at the beginning, but I just wanted to reiterate what I think is really the only issue I had with the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark C

    A good meditation on the state of church (little c) today, and how Christians present ourselves to the world. Interestingly, the primary concerns of the skeptic here were not generally those we worry about as church leaders. He didn't care about "polish" or having a "visitor center" or "coffee time" our a "welcoming committee". (Actually, he was generally put off by these things.) Instead he had two primary concerns (among others): 1. Engagement with the community (What he calls Jesus's "call to A good meditation on the state of church (little c) today, and how Christians present ourselves to the world. Interestingly, the primary concerns of the skeptic here were not generally those we worry about as church leaders. He didn't care about "polish" or having a "visitor center" or "coffee time" our a "welcoming committee". (Actually, he was generally put off by these things.) Instead he had two primary concerns (among others): 1. Engagement with the community (What he calls Jesus's "call to action"), and 2. Christian jargon (not the 10-dollar words but things like singing "nothing but the blood of Jesus" without explanation) The author had his own drum to beat, and it was primarily that Christians need to do more dialogue and less debate with atheists specifically and non-Christians in general. It is a point well-taken, but seemed defensive and self-serving at times. Overall, a good read and worth your time if you are a Christian trying to understand why non-believers aren't coming out in droves.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Symon Pratt

    I loved reading this book & reckon all Christians should read it too... to see what an objective outsider thinks of our traditions. Better yet, we should take up the challenge & bring an atheist/agnostic to church once a year, and just listen to what they have to say. Some classic lines in it such as "I silently wondered why we Christians seem to believe that it's our God-given duty to appear unusually happy - especially at church." And the constant question "Jim, is this what Jesus told you guy I loved reading this book & reckon all Christians should read it too... to see what an objective outsider thinks of our traditions. Better yet, we should take up the challenge & bring an atheist/agnostic to church once a year, and just listen to what they have to say. Some classic lines in it such as "I silently wondered why we Christians seem to believe that it's our God-given duty to appear unusually happy - especially at church." And the constant question "Jim, is this what Jesus told you guys to do?" And, "If people who had never heard of Jesus wanted to see what Christians were most interested in, they would probably start their search in some of the churches we visited. If that's were they started, they would have to conclude that Jesus' number one priority was that Christians invest the very best of their energy and their money into putting on a huge church service - a killer show, as it were....is this what Jesus told you guys to do?"

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I was not overly impressed with this book. For starters, I don't feel like it was very well written, and I found a particular weakness to be the conversations. They did not ring true and natural and didn't sound like anything real people would say. I was especially annoyed with the authors habit of tacking the other person's name at the end of a sentence - "Where are we going, Jim?" "Why, to church, of course, Casper! " And on and on like that. I was also disappointed by the subject matter of th I was not overly impressed with this book. For starters, I don't feel like it was very well written, and I found a particular weakness to be the conversations. They did not ring true and natural and didn't sound like anything real people would say. I was especially annoyed with the authors habit of tacking the other person's name at the end of a sentence - "Where are we going, Jim?" "Why, to church, of course, Casper! " And on and on like that. I was also disappointed by the subject matter of the book. I was under the impression that the two were going to travel to churches of many different religions-Catholic, Protestant, Mormon etc. and then they would compare and contrast them. I think it would have made for much more interesting reading than the series of mega churches they did visit, which all had a sort of sameness by the end. It would have been even more interesting, had they visited temples, mosques and other non-Christian faiths.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.