Recently a couple of colleagues recommended Jim and Casper Go to Church.. One of the co-authors, Jim Henderson, recruited Matt Casper, an atheist, to attend churches all over America with him. They hit some high-profile evangelical churches like Saddleback, Willow Creek, and Joel Osteen’s church, as well as smaller places like the Bridge and Imago Dei in my own city of Portland, OR and a house church in San Diego. It’s fascinating to get Casper’s take on his experiences. He asks, “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?”
Jim’s comments are just as enlightening. At one point he comments on something he had noticed among pastors, especially pastors of larger churches: “Sometimes it seems as if the same gift that enables people to become professional orators (a.k.a. pastors/teachers) often disables them from connecting on a personal level.” Hmmm. They both notice how rarely they are approached by someone who is not a designated official greeter.
A quick read, and well worth it.