I am probably the last person left on the planet who had not read So You Do Not Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen aka Jake Colsen. I finally tackled it in its entirety last weekend. In case there are one or two of you left who have not read it, it is available online free here.
Jacobsen’s tour de force is his ability to deliver crushing blows to religious systems. He may not always give us clear direction into the Promised Land, but he certainly helps free us from the Egypt of religious and institutional thinking.
Here are a couple of excerpts.
On religious institutions:
“Once you build an institution together you have to protect it and its assets to be good stewards. It confuses everything. Even love gets redefined as that which protects the institution and unloving as that which does not. It will turn some of the nicest people in the world into raging maniacs and they never stop to think that all the name-calling and accusations are the opposite of love…
It’s love with a hook. If you do what we want, we reward you. If not we punish you. It doesn’t turn out to be about love at all. We give our affection only to those who serve our interests and withhold it from those who do not.”
“Institutionalism breeds task-based friendships. As long as you’re on the same task together, you can be friends. When you’re not, people tend to treat you like damaged goods.”
On living in the Father’s love as more important than church models:
“Nothing we as believers can ever do together will make up for the lack of our own relationship with God. When we put the church in that place we make it an idol and others will always end up disappointing us.”
“No church model will produce God’s life in you. It works the other way around. Our life in God, shared together, expresses itself as the church. It is the overflow of his life in us. You can tinker with church principles forever and still miss out on what it means to live deeply in Father’s love and know how to share it with others.”
On living free of dependency on leaders:
“That’s where religion has done the most damage. By making people dependent on its leaders, it has made God’s people passive in their own spiritual growth. We wait for others to show us how, or even just follow them in hopes that they’re getting it right. Jesus wants this relationship with you and he wants you to be an active part in that process.”
“But can we do it on our own? Don’t we need some help?” Marsha asked.
“Who said you’re alone? Jesus is the way to the Father. As you learn to yield to his Spirit and depend on his power, you’ll discover how to live in the fullness of his life. Yes, he’ll often use other people to encourage or equip you in that process, but the people he uses won’t let you grow dependent on them. They wouldn’t dare crawl between you and the greatest joy of this family—a growing relationship with the Father himself.”
On developing a healthy community:
“People learning to live in relationship to Father in freedom from shame is the core of body life. Find out how to share that life and you’ll be the body.”
This book also has an excellent chapter on children… take a look for yourself if you’re interested.