For anyone who doesn’t know, last year i self-published a book called ‘i, church’.
On the back cover of the book there is a bit of a summation and part of it reads like this:
To those of you who believe church is the worst thing ever: You’re right!
To those of you who believe church is the best thing ever: You’re right!
i call this book, ‘i, church’ because more than a building or a meeting or a list of do’s and don’ts, the church is about the people.
It is about me. And it is about you. If you love Jesus and have chosen to follow Him, then you are the church.
Let’s figure out together how we can be the best church we can be.
A few months ago, my friend Byron up in Gauteng ordered a bunch of copies of my book.
It was the biggest order of my books that had gone out and most sold apart from at the various book launches we had done.
Suddenly, out of the blue, a day or so ago, i get this Watsapp message from him:
Hey B… Hope you are so so well my man. All I can say regarding feedback is………….
When’s the next one coming?!? Our youth dude went through the book with about 40 young adults at the local university and wow!!!!!!!!!!!! Bless you for your efforts.
Which was super radly encouraging.
Especially when i sit in my Man Cave office at home and stare at the boxes of about 600 books that i haven’t figured out how to get into peoples’ hands. #ClassicSelfPublishingChallenge
A TIME TO WRESTLE
Last year i also got to meet with a small group from Connect Church who had gone through my book in their weekly meetings. We meet after they had finished it and had a Q & A about various issues in the book. The Q & A was notably the best part of all of the 6 book launches we did in Cape Town, Durban and Oakland, California. The opportunity for people to engage with some of the questions about church that they never get to ask in a church gathering on a Sunday.
In fact this past weekend i ran a workshop at a young adults camp where about twelve of us talked about the book and church and related issues for a 75 minute session and we could have gone on.
The book is really great at helping you ask questions about church – your idea, concept and picture of church as well as dreaming and imagining about how effective church could be if we truly saw ourselves as the body and bride of Christ.
Here is a passage from early on in the book:
= = = = = = = = =
‘That is maybe how it is with the church sometimes. That it is not always intentional. Sometimes it is just through not saying it as opposed to deliberately holding it back. Usually it is because the church is made up of messy, broken people who have been hurt and who hurt, all the while trying to get it right, for the most part.
And so we end up at a place that, if we’re completely honest with ourselves, looks a lot like Augustine might have suggested when he said, “The church is a whore, but she’s my mother”. One of the biggest problems we face, I think, is that some people get way too hung up on “the church is a whore” part while others get way too protective of the “church is my mother” bit. So we are left with a ‘them’ and an ‘us’ no matter which side we stand:
# The church is the best thing in the world, ever.
# The church is the worst thing in the world, ever.
Both sides are right. And both sides are wrong.
The purpose of this book is to hopefully invite each side to take a few steps close to “the other” so that we can move away from that kind of language and mindset altogether. There are enough people both inside and outside the church, who are quick to throw stones at it. Whether we see it as the building or the people or the meeting or the tradition, it has become an easy target.
What is going to be more helpful is if we can take a step back from the muck, put any kind of frustrations or anger or resentment or bitterness aside, and start to look a little harder, listen a little more closely and return to the One who this church thing is all about. Maybe then we’ll truly be able to kiss hating [or just really, really, really not liking] the church goodbye.
You see, it was never meant to be a concept… or an organisation… or a meeting… it was meant to be an organism – living, breathing, causing revolution, pointing people towards Jesus, and turning the world on its head.
Maybe you don’t see it like that. Maybe you’ve never seen it like that. I urge you to read this book with an open mind. Head back with me to scripture and see what God says about the church – His plan and idea and mission for it.
Because maybe once you’ve really seen that, you will find a whole host of new reasons to love being an active engaging community-transforming member of this living Church.’
= = = = = = = = =
What i’ve had confirmed for me by people who have read the book is that the best people it is for fall into two groups:
 Those who love Jesus but for whatever reasons have walked away from the idea of Sunday church – possibly through being hurt. abused, disappointed by the people there.
 Those who religiously attend church but don’t find themselves transformed much by their actions – so it is more of a religious habit than an encounter.
Which means that for the most part, those who attended the book launches were not those people. [The chances of the first group of people attending anything with ‘church’ in the title obviously being very slim]. And the best way for the book to reach its intended audience is for those of you who know someone in either of those groups [and don’t we all?] to get a copy of the book and give it to them as a gift, perhaps asking them to let you know what they think once they’ve read it.
i do believe there is something for everyone in the book and so hopefully no-one who reads it will walk away empty-handed, so i encourage you to get hold of a copy and then, once you have read it, to think of the person [or persons, be like Byron] you imagine it will be most beneficial for.
There is actually a blurb in the cover inviting you to put this into someone else’s hand once you’re done, rather than letting it linger on a shelf somewhere [and the invitation to rather burn it if it is one of the worst books you’ve read].
HOW DO I GET MY HANDS ON A COPY?
Well, come and hang out in my Man Cave clearly… If you’re in Cape Town it’s fairly easy to arrange a meeting and possibly a game of Settlers of Catan: Cities and Knights and you can get a copy for R100.
If you live elsewhere in the country, simply email me your address to email@example.com and we can make a plan for me to post you a copy [typically less than R125 with postage].
Otherwise, ‘i, church’ is available on the Amazon [the online store, not the Latin American river] in both book and e-book format…
But what i would REALLY love to see is more opportunities for group conversations around the book:
What about considering the opportunity of hosting a Q & A time of your own at your own home [or somewhere else that might be fun] where you bring the crowd [or roomful of people] that you feel may be wanting to ask questions about church and not have many places to do so – friends who are struggling with what church is about, people you know who attend regularly but don’t live it out, generally curious folk – and i come along and we create a space to ask some questions and wrestle with some things and then at the end give people an opportunity to get hold of a copy of the book if they would like.
i would also love to come and speak at your church gathering or mid-week small group or, if you do what the young adults from Connect did and work through the book as a group, at the end of a group focus on the book. If you’re wanting to work through it as a group, let me know and we can quite possibly work a group discount to make it even more easily affordable for your members.
But HELP ME CLEAR MY MAN CAVE [and preferably before end March when we have to move]
It is a little harder to get motivated to write the next book when the first one is staring you down every day… and i do have a book or two i would like to write next.
i leave you with a quote from G.K.Chesterton which also maybe sums up the book and is one of the last few phrases you will find in the book:
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.