Jake Colsen is the author of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. Jake Colsen does not exist. Rather, he is a pseudonym for the combined work of Dave Coleman and Wayne Jacobsen. You may recognize Wayne Jacobsen as one of the founders of Windblown Media, the company that published a little book called The Shack — a little book that has gone on to sell well over a million copies.
At the moment, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore is ranked #259 in Books at Amazon and #4 in Religious & Spirituality Fiction (placing behind three editions of The Shack).
So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore is a story about a man named Jake (the book is meant to be fictitiously autobiographical where the author, Jake Colsen, writes about his own experiences). Jake is an associate pastor at a fast-growing mega-church. In the book’s early pages he encounters a man named John whom he comes to believe may just be the Apostle John (though this question is never actually resolved). While he does not have much of an opportunity to interact with John at first, he hears words which set his heart and mind reeling. He realizes quickly that his Christian faith is almost hopelessly rote and anemic.
“Although I had been a Christian for more than two decades, I had no concept of who Jesus was as a person and no idea how I could change that.” This book covers a span of months or years which sees him grow from a pastor of immature faith to a man of wisdom and mature faith.
The predominant theme of the book is issues surrounding the local church. The overall teaching is that the church as most Christians understand it is a human institution and one designed primarily to gain and to protect power. The Bible, according to the authors, does not teach that Christians should be part of any kind of institutional church. This is not to say that we should leave mega-churches to join smaller house churches; rather, we should abandon this kind of church model altogether. While the authors do not clearly or precisely share what Christians should or can do in its place, it seems that it would look something like this: “Instead of trying to build a house church, learn to love one another and share one another’s journey. Who is he asking you to walk alongside right now and how can you encourage them? I love it when brothers and sisters choose to be intentional in sharing God’s life together in a particular season. So, yes, experiment with community together. You’ll learn a lot. Just avoid the desire to make it contrived, exclusive, or permanent. Relationships don’t work that way.”
The book’s appendix is a pamphlet written by Jacobsen which addresses his view of church life. Here he says, “Fellowship happens where people share the journey of knowing Jesus together. It consists of open, honest sharing, genuine concern about one another’s spiritual well being and encouragement for people to follow Jesus however he leads them.” By the book’s closing pages, Jake has left the church and now meets irregularly with an irregular group of people from his community. This is presented as being a form of authentic spirituality that is closer to the biblical model than that which is practiced by the vast majority of Christians today. It is the better alternative to church as most Christians know and experience it.
Beware that this book is fiction and you may not agree with all its conclusions if you belive that the organized church in America is not in trouble or in need of change.
[Dr. Albert Mohler]