Of high interest is Jim & Casper Go to Church, published by Tyndale, 2007, a Barna Imprint. The premise is simple. Casper is an atheist from San Diego and Jim, who runs a ministry titled Off the Map contracts with Casper to visit a number of churches, discuss them, rate them, and produce this book. In spite of the fact that the book essentially supports Barna’s thesis in Revolution, and probably Jim Henderson’s thesis as well, the book produces great insights and profound challenges. Every pastor should read it.
What I like is the Q & A at back.. It seems to be a Q & A with Henderson, but it picked up some of my challenges and thoughts as I read through.
The book caused me to consider the following.
Is the imitation rock concert that we call a worship service, really a worship service? Casper wants to know if Jesus told us to buy those fog machines. I can see that if rock concerts are the culture of today, then we need to worship in that culture. But, has this picked up the same deadness as the Hammond organ worship service of the mid-twentieth century?
More deeply, what is a worship service?
Then, is our preaching nearly as relevant as we think it is? Casper is really difficult to challenge with a sermon. After hearing a sermon he counters with questions relating to overall biblical context and application to life. His critiques make me think more deeply about my sermons, and make me want to do way better.
And, in total resonance with Barna, both Casper and Jim want to deconstruct the church to what my son calls a pre-ecclesiology. Virtually echoing Barna, they want to know if the main mission of Jesus was to establish a church.
In this I hear a faint echo of Kierkegaard’s question: “how in Christendom can one be a Christian?” Is it really what God wanted – that we should all gather every week, sing, take an offering and listen to a sermon – and the Eucharist in some churches? Or was being a disciple intended to be something else? That is the challenge that Barna, and now Casper, are throwing down to us.
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