I would probably have put this book aside on the “don’t read stack” had I not seen that the foreword was written by George Barna. While I may not always agree with some of his conclusions and prescriptions, I read Barna’s analyses very carefully and I have learned much. This little book was no exception. Even after reading the book, had not planned to take the space to mention it here; however, as I shared the content with some close friends, they were as intrigued by it as I was. While I would not put it at the top of my reading list, it was very helpful for me to hear what the authors, Henderson and Casper, had to say.
A word of background-Jim Henderson is a long time Christian, who like so many others, had always been very involved in the church. He decided it was time to find out how visitors would react to and interpret the church and what would inspire them to come back or come for the first time to church. To do this he hired professing atheist, rock musician and journalist Matt Casper to help him with the project. The agreement was that Henderson would not attempt to convert Casper during the process.
Henderson and Casper traveled across the country visiting churches such as Willow Creek, Saddleback, Mars Hill, and Potter’s House. They would visit a church, usually sitting in the balcony with their laptops, taking notes on the service. Later in the day, they would compare notes. I was especially impressed by Casper’s comments. One quote from Casper both in the book and on the jacket to whet your appetite reads, “Light shows, fog machines, worship bands, offering plates-is this what Jesus intended? Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?”
What are we doing right and what do we need to do better? These are two very valid questions this book will inspire you to answer. The book is an easy read and often a sad commentary; however, you might pick up some insights on how non-church people look at your church.