It could be the pilot script for a sitcom: a pastor hires an atheist to help him critique several Christian churches throughout the United States. For the authors, however, this experiment was no joke. Henderson, a veteran Protestant minister, truly believes that evangelism requires listening to the good, the bad and the ugly about Christianity in order to be a better minister. So he hired Casper, an atheist copywriter and musician, to serve as "fresh eyes" and observe how a variety of Christians engage the Divine through worship. Their travels took them to a mission-minded church, an Emergent church and to Joel Osteen's megachurch, among others. In the book, Henderson peppers his partner with questions about each service, and Casper comments on everything from preaching to music to the geographical location of the churches. The take-home point, which is simultaneously simple, profound and of great importance to Christianity is, "Why are there such glaring discrepancies among churches regarding what it means to be a follower of Christ?" The two authors include some banal dialogue at times, but this is a minor distraction. Anyone interested in contemporary evangelism, especially pastors, will enjoy and learn from this humorous and heartening travelogue. (Apr.)
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Jim Henderson is cofounder and executive director of Off The Map, a nonprofit organization focused on reinventing evangelism by encouraging Christians to connect with people in small, ordinary, and doable ways. He and his wife, Barb, have been involved in church planting, pastoring, and leadership development for over twenty-five years. They have three children and live in Seattle.
Matt Casper is a marketing copywriter, a freelance writer, a guitar slinger / rock singer, an avid reader, and a halfway decent cook. His dream job is "gadabout . . . maybe raconteur." He is happily married to Yvonne and is a proud, hands-on father of Evelyn and Cole. He and his family live in San Diego.