Jim & Casper Go To Church is the title of a newly released book by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper. Jim is a Christian writer and Matt is an atheist. Jim and Casper visited dozens of churches across America and then wrote about their experiences. And they are brazenly honest.
Every church leader should read this book. Actually, every Christian should read this book. It blazes light all over how we can come across to those outside of the church. And we need to hear what it says.
With all of that said, there are a couple of cautions. First, Jim and Casper review some very high profile churches; Willow Creek, Joel Osteen, T. D. Jakes, etc. And as I was reading what they wrote I found myself reveling a bit in the criticism. Kind of like, “I knew they weren’t that good.” And then I found myself repenting and praying for God to use those churches and help them be all that He desires for them to be. Secondly, 98% of the people that visit a weekend service at church are invited by a friend or family member. Friends and family members that meet them at the door and walk with them through their first time church experience. Jim and Casper walk in pretty much cold. And because of that, their church “experience” is very different.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Jim and Casper:
“Non-Christians–they’re real people to us, not targets. I think of it like this: They’re just like me, except they’re not currently interested in Jesus to the same degree I am.” –Jim, the Christian
“I can’t really tell what this church stands for, Jim. Is it helping people or growing the organization? Is it community or religion?” —Casper, the atheist
“We need to emrace 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.” –Jim, the Christian
“Giving isn’t really giving until it interrupts your lifestyle.” –Eric from Imago Dei
“People are more and more comfortable talking about their spirituality and less and less comfortable talking about beliefs or religion.” –Jim, the Christian
“I’m not trying to go overboard in ‘keeping it real.’ But tell me why I should join a movement that preaches love and equality and one body but for two thousand years has itself essentially resisted the very change it preaches about? It makes a good case for being an atheist if the very people who claim to be serving God and obeying him aren’t doing what they say he’s telling them to do. What kind of religion is that?” –Casper, the atheist
“The question that just came up for me again and again–having read more than a few pages of the Bible–is this: What does the way Christianity is practiced today have to do with the handful of words and deeds uttered by a man who walked the earth two thousand years ago?” –Casper, the atheist
“I am very comfortable asserting my faith and my hope and my confidence that Jesus is God, but I will not say that I know he is God in the way I say I know there is gravity. I hope the story I have bet my life on is true, but neither Casper nor I will know for sure until both of us are dead. Atheists are very surprised when they hear me say this and wonder why more Christians can’t admit these things.” –Jim, the Christian