Jim and Casper Go To Church is another iconoclastic book from the Barna Group (What’s with the scary red covers?)  The book details the journeys of Jim (a longtime Christian) and Casper (a longtime atheist) on a Homeric odyssey through several different churches – from mega to mini, from emergent to mainline.  It chronicles Casper’s reactions to each of these different experiences.  It is essential reading for the church leader who cares about how church is perceived by those outside of the North American church sub-culture.  Here are my quick hit thoughts:

  • Casper responds very positively to when the church is involved in the community or working for justice in the world.  I think it belies an assumption on Casper’s part that churches are more interested in helping themselves than in helping others.  As church leaders we need to be constantly asking ourselves who we’re interested in helping
  • Casper is only one guy with one opinion.  I’d love to see a sequel to this book that took a busload of atheists around to different churches and surveyed their opinions
  • I experience church differently now.  I hear Casper in the back of my mind asking “Is this really what Jesus wanted you to do?” It’s a sobering question
  • Casper saw through anything that was fake.  I also suspect he saw some things as fake that were actually quite sincere.
  • Biggest surprise of the book?  Saddleback and Willow both get pretty low marks from Casper.  Makes you go “Hmmm” doesn’t it?

Well, that’s it for now kids.  See you in church!