My book came in the mail today. A few months ago I got to read five chapters of it while it was still being written, and it drew me in.

Jim and Casper Go To Church is the joint work of a devout Christian (Jim) and an atheist (Casper). Over one summer they visited several churches around the U.S. The book contains observations about 11 of those visits.

Churches that are defensive probably shouldn’t read the book. It best serves those that genuinely want to be a more effective witness to the world. It is not necessarily true that churches want to know what outsiders think about them, and sometimes the book can be painful.

Nor should those who want to stereotype others read the book. One of the things that Jim has championed through Off the Map is to create respectful conversation between people who often have diverse opinions about faith and life. Such conversations occur when people are willing to abandon their assumptions about each other and listen.

In the Foreword, George Barna writes,

…consider the fact that few religious leaders or churches have any idea what it’s like for an outsider to try to break into the holy huddle. Most churched people have been so immersed in the church world that they have completely lost touch with what it is like to come through the church door and try to fit into a place that has very distinct habits, language, goals, events, titles, architecture, traditions, expectations, and measurements.

I’m thankful for people like Jim and Casper who force us to think differently. It’s too easy to become settled, close-minded, and comfortable, thereby cutting ourselves off from meaningful conversations with those who do not share, at the moment, our beliefs and values.

If you have the courage and openmindedness, read Jim and Casper Go to Church. As a friend of mine says, “It will make you a better person.”

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