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So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore

April 16, 2008

Long time no blog.

I’ve been reading this book by the same title as the post. It is by Jake Colsen and is a fiction book about a pastor who encounters a guy who helps him see the dangers and ways religious systems rob people of relationship with God. At least that is how I sum it up. Those of you who have read it chime in. Donna recommended it and Kim was insistant that I read it. So I am almost finished and wanted to post this quote. It isn’t the best quote of the book but one I thought might help some people. It comes in a discussion about a house church, Marvin is a guy in the house church and John is one of the main two characters.

After a few moments Marvin let out a frustrated sigh. “I don’t know, John. I always thought the institution I left wasn’t working because it had the wrong principles. I thought we were getting the right ones in place so we could finally experience real church life.” Murmurs of agreement buzzed around the table. “But you don’t see it that way?”

“No, I don’t. If it helps, I think you’re finding better principles–onesthat reflect more accurately the life of the early believers. But keep in mind that following priciples didn’t produce their life together. We can observe what happened as they followed Jesus, but copying that won’t produce the same reality.

“Jesus didn’t leave us with a system; he left us with his Spirit–a guide instead of a map. Principles alone will not satisfy your hunger. That’s why systems always promise a future revival that never comes. They cannot produce community because they are designed to keep peoeple apart.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because they keep the focus on services or rituals, principles turn most people into spectators. By holding up standards and motivating people to conform to them they only encourage people to pretend to be what they are not, or to act like they know more than they really do. Questions and doubts are discouraged and people can’t deal with the things they are hiding. Thus they only let people see the shadow they want them to see, not who they really are. Feeling isolated, they only become more focused on their own needs and what others aren’t doing to meet them. They fight over control of the institution, however large or small, so that they can make others do what they think is best. It is a story that has been repeated for a couple of thousand years.”

Following a pattern or copying whether it is 2000 years ago that you copy or if it is the group whose conference you went to just doesn’t produce the same reality. I love that line about he gave his Spirit instead of a map. And I know the part about people pretending is so true. So whether you are in a big church, little church, house church, fluid church, coffeehouse church or whatever, Here’s to everyone, following the Spirit’s leading and to seeking God’s guidance on every decision.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2008 6:35 pm

    ahhh…I’m glad you finally read it. It is chock full of those types of quotes. and the idea of how principals are designed to keep people apart. I was discussing this with my brother today. Thanks for this reminder.

    So, you see why it had me stirred up?

  2. April 16, 2008 8:20 pm

    Sounds very interesting. I’ll have to check it out — thanks for the heads up!

  3. April 17, 2008 6:16 am

    i liked your conclusion, tom. i agreed with what you said. i, too, liked the comment about what Jesus left us. however, i do find myself looking at what we do in our services and asking, “would this have been done 2000 years ago?” i also sometimes wonder if the resistance to anything that is done during services that is different than what has been done in the last 100 years is given the same question, but with a twist, “would this have been done 100 years ago?”

    we are creatures of habit, and if something is done that is out of our comfort zone, we complain. our shepherds at port city want to not offend members of our congregation by going “too far, too fast,” but in my opinion, not offending others offends me. i have asked myself many times, “why do you want to do this, ken?” and my answer is usually something like this, “well, there’s against it in the bible.”

    i wish we could all see in what “spirit” we do things, and not focus on action, and whether there is a precedent.

    great post, tom!

  4. April 17, 2008 3:48 pm

    Hey, Tommy –

    I’ve been checking on you every day and have been missing you. Glad you’re back here!

    This is a really good post and I love the quote.


    Cheers & Blessings to you all today!


  5. April 18, 2008 6:34 am

    Thanks for letting us know about the book.
    I am going to order mine today.
    We don’t have a book store in town.
    The closest is San Antonio.
    I hope you have a great weekend.

  6. April 20, 2008 12:30 pm

    Several months ago my wife and I visited friends in a Texas city and went to church with them on Sunday a.m. before driving back home. When we got on the highway, my wife asked, “What did you think of the church?” My reply was, “If I lived in xxxxx I would drive 100 miles to attend someplace where they are not just going through the motions”.

    What many call worship is not and what many would say is not worship is. Jesus said to the woman at the well in part “worship in Spirit and in truth..”. When it comes to what happens on Sunday morning I fear we are way heavy on “truth” and very light on “Spirit”.

    His peace,
    Royce Ogle

  7. April 22, 2008 10:45 pm

    I hope you have a wonderful earth day! 🙂

  8. April 25, 2008 10:43 pm

    I want to read this book, too. You always beat me to the good ones!! But your reviews are so good, maybe I don’t need to read them after all. 🙂

  9. April 27, 2008 5:31 pm

    I finally read The Shack. Although it affected me deeply, I didn’t cry. I’m just tough like that, you know? 🙂

  10. May 12, 2008 8:01 am

    I love your blog.
    It is definately one of my favorites.
    I was wondering if you and your readers could take a few moments of your time and stop by my blog and leave a prayer for a family who is hurting beyond imagination. I know God says he won’t give us anything we can’t bare or handle. It would make a difference in the lives of an entire family. So please….take a few minutes of your time and make a difference.

    God bless you brother this week and may all of God’s richest blessings fall on you, your family, your minister and every aspect of your life.
    In HIm,
    Kinney Mabry

  11. December 19, 2008 1:14 pm

    great blog/review,

    also really liked the book especially fond of the part you qouted.
    Jake Colson is a made up name from the names of the two authors: Wayne Jacobson and Dave Colson. Wayne has another book “he loves me” which is really good as well. Hope to come back and check out more of your blog

  12. Becky permalink
    April 29, 2009 2:58 pm

    I just happened upon ur page here when searching for “so you dont want to go to church anymore” to find the author (telling a friend about the great book i just finished reading)… i am on my way to the bookstore to get “he loves me” by wayne jacobson. can you suggest anymore books like these? i love them!

  13. Paul Giles permalink
    June 12, 2009 9:32 am

    This is an amazing book. I listened to the audio book and was so impacted I bought 10 more and gave them to people who the Lord put on my heart to give to. I believe it is truth that a lot of people can relate to. It is so easy to get cought up in the religious activity and doing things for God that we miss the relationship with him. I highly recommend this book!!!!!!

  14. Katherine permalink
    March 20, 2010 9:45 pm

    My husband and I have read the profoundly freeing ‘The Shack’. Now that I have read these positive reviews and comments on ‘So you don’t want to go to church anymore’ we look forward to this book as well. Thank you and God continue to bless you in relationship with Him.

  15. DIANE permalink
    July 24, 2010 8:59 pm

    I am sad that this blog is so old and so that no one will probably read this. But This book changed my life. I have struggled with what I have seen going on in church for as long as I can remember. Ever simnce I have known my husband he has been stronly involved in the church one way or another. His dad was an Elder as he was growing up. His brother is a Minister and my husband is currently a Deacon and they have wanted him to be an Elder and he would be if I would support him. I have unfortunately been privvy to men with feet of clay. Liars, gossips, and at the risk of sounding hypocritical…. a load of judgemental people. When I read the Shack. I thought it was way out of the box that I had come from, but then I understood it wasn’t about gender or race but about pure love. I could imagine God and the definition of pure love and understand. When I read the book
    So you don’t want to go to church anymore…. I understood more and yet was even more confused if that made sense.
    I have watched my husband struggle with his own heart. Seen him send e-mails that another elder has said he never received. My problem is… just tell him… he didn’t feel like reading it… don’t lie and say you didn’t recieve it type of thing… and that is the type of small thing that happens over and over. We have recently lost our worship leader who was also the young college pastor. He would lead worship like no other I had ever seen and it would bring me to tears the way he loved The Lord so deeply and I would feel so inadequate in how I loved the Lord in comparisim. And if I were to have to name any person in our congregation it would never have been him…. but he was caught by one of his daughters to be having an affair with someone who had once been in the college groups several years earlier. It blew our church away.
    I am stuck. Not so much spiritually. I love the Lord. I understand that people and God are totally different. I do have a problem in going to church though. My husband has a problem with me not going. I have talked him into reading the book.
    We have decided that he will finish the book and talk about it.
    I am too scared to give the book to anyone else at this point in the game. I understand that not everyone has my advantage from my view point and I am glad for that because it isn’t the greatest place to be.

  16. DIANE permalink
    July 25, 2010 2:19 pm

    Wow. I have to say I am amazed and touched that someone actually found my letter and replied to me! I think perhaps Divine Appointments still do happen!

  17. Melissa permalink
    January 21, 2011 1:36 am

    Diane, Just finished the book, loved it!! I didn’t grow up in the church but for the last 23 years have gone with my husband and children! My story is very similar to yours! Church people are rude and judgmental! We play the “game” we don’t love each other like Christ loved the church we simply go through the motions! We can’t even agree in my church on the music! Honestly, I don’t think Jesus appreciates any of it!

  18. January 21, 2011 9:48 am

    Thanks for your reply!
    Funny, I am still very effected by the book! But crazily just recently I have joined a Sunday night Bible Study and we are doing the Truth Project. It is a small group from our church but still not church… but THEN…. I have relented to going to a Monday night something that a man very similar to the John in the book is heading for the leaders and their wives of the church… we shall see… and at the same time… a series called Laughing Your Way to A Better Marriage has started so I have totally been swooped back in in full force just in the matter of a few weeks! The last time I went to church though was Christmas Eve when my daughter was home with my husband and in-laws. (They actually came to a Baptist church!) Lol… they do from time to time… Anywaaay, I was just thinking of that book. Maybe God is using you!
    Thanks again for replying… in all my e-mails I have to go through… yours peeked my interest!
    I’d love to keep in touch!
    Have a blessed day!!!!

  19. January 21, 2011 9:51 am

    Melissa…. by the way you put it perfectly in a nut shell!!!!
    If you click on my name…I have a blog I’d love to share with you! I feel we are souls out there that “get” each other!
    My e-mail is

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