This is the premise of "Jim and Casper Go To Church." Author Jim Henderson paid an atheist writer Matt Casper to accompany him to several American churches to rate them. Their whirlwind tour took them to several megachurches, including Saddleback, Willow Creek and Lakewood. But they also stopped in several smaller churches, some community-based and even a house-church.
Let me warn you immediately: This book is hard to read for people who have grown up in church!
I found myself getting defensive several times, but I also found myself being convicted. Casper asks some very perceptive and penetrating questions about church culture:
- Why should a church have to tell their people to greet visitors?
- Why do churches preach inspiring messages like "Don't give up" to people who already have everything?
- Does God want churches to use their money to build huge buildings and pack them with expensive fog machines, lighting, computers, and state-of-the-art A/V equipment?
- Why don't churches build more health clinics, day cares and schools?
- Why don't churches highlight what they are doing as much as what they believe?
- Why do churches want unchurched folks to come to them instead of going to the unchurched folks?
Well, that's a FEW of the hard questions presented...don't wanna spoil the WHOLE thing for those of you who might read the book!
Sometimes, it's good to hear what an "outsider" thinks of church. It might hurt when you process what they are saying, but it's good.
So, how would someone "rate" YOUR church if they came to visit? (By the way, this is not necessarily a question for you to answer and BASH your church! Of course you may answer, but also keep in mind that YOU are a part of your church's culture! This reflection is for you, too.)