15 October 2010

Book Review: So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen & Dave Coleman

There are quite a number of issues with this book, which I will deal with in order of increasing severity.

The first one is the editing. The book is littered with spelling and grammatical mistakes which should have eliminated before going to print. I hope later editions have this sorted out, as it made the reading unnecessarily difficult.

Secondly, there was a noticeable lack of characterisation. Everyone spoke with the same platitudinous two-dimensional turn of phrase. The authors often embarked upon long dialogue, which would have been more at home had they been writing a play, rather than a novel. Given their reluctance to say who was speaking, and the fact that everyone was the same, I was often left having to flick back several pages and count alternate statements in order to determine who said what, which made the reading of the book needlessly wearisome.

Now that we’ve got the style issues sorted, we can finally get onto the content. This is not really a book, so much as the authors’ fantasy sermon. Only it’s not quite a sermon, more of an interactive seminar. There is clearly a long list of things that the authors would love to be asked about but never are. The main character, Jake, is a concoction of sycophantic questioning invented as the foil against which the authors (through “John”) can reel off their opinions on what is wrong with the church and how to fix them.

There is nothing in here that hasn’t been said before:

Being a minister and running a local church is tough.
You can’t please everyone all the time.
Be Christ-focussed.

The above three lines above sum up the whole book, but they’re truths that just about every local pastor knows.

For a more coherent, insightful and relevant story, read The Visit by Adrian Plass.

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