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So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey
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So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,092 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews
Jake Colsen, an overworked and disillusioned pastor, happens into a stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance (in manner) to the apostle John. A number of encounters with John as well as a family crisis lead Jake to a new understanding of what his life should be like: one filled with faith bolstered by a steady, close relationship with the God of the universe. Facing his o ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Winblown Media (first published January 1st 2007)
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The Misunderstood God by Darin HuffordPagan Christianity by Frank ViolaThe Barista by Elijah G. ClarkBeautiful Outlaw by John EldredgeSo You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 04, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing
I received this book from a friend. I had seen it around and was very interested in reading it because it looked like just what my family needed.

when given this book, the sister of my friend told me that "it wasn't what we expected, but it was what we needed." I think that is a good description of this book. Maybe you've felt unsatisfied in your church family and have considered leaving. Or maybe you are perfectly happy where you are. Either way, reading this book isn't a waste of time.

Unlike so
Sep 29, 2011 Sue rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly powerful book - and is available free as an e-book as well as being buyable in printed form. It gently looks at why so many Christians are discouraged, or fed up with structured church life, but without in any way criticising the Church as such.

Jake, the main character, relates a series of conversations with an unusual person called John who appears in his life now and again. As he comes to terms with what John is saying, he experiences many struggles in his life until he
Bart Breen
May 23, 2012 Bart Breen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not What you Might Expect

This is likely one of the best books I have ever read and I'll tell you why.

I've been all about the Church for most of my life. I've been a pastor, a denominational official, a Church Administrator, an Elder, a Chairman of the Board and while I'm not currently in a formal Church Ministry role, I'm finishing up a Master's degree in Organizational Leadership and writing a Master's Thesis on Leadership Styles and impact within the organization of the Church.

On some levels,
Cherie Hill
Jan 25, 2009 Cherie Hill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever wanted to have a sit down conversation with one of Jesus' disciples? Chances are....none of us will get that opportunity this side of eternity. But, through this book and in this message, you will take an unexpected journey and discover truths about the body of Christ and your walk of faith that will change the way you live.

You will not want to miss out on this opportunity to hear answers to some of your most desperate questions about "the church." Should you feel guilty about not
Apr 11, 2009 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liking this rec from Nate. I'm in Chapter 4 or 5 right now (tough to keep track on an audiobook) Definitely a great source for some ongoing conversation, thought, and ongoing discussion about the often power-hungry, spiritual guilt wielding "institution" of the church vs. the purpose that God intended. So far I've really liked and been encouraged by the emphasis the author is placing on a thriving, authentic, organic love relationship w/ Jesus that also results in community. It's so easy to beco ...more
Jun 12, 2010 LadyCalico rated it really liked it
What do I think about this book? I don't know. This book contained the Christ-focus I felt The Shack sorely lacked and it did not push the Universalist beliefs that made me so uncomfortable with the Shack. How now shall you live? I still don't know what is the answer, but I do know for sure that the teachings of my denominational church are not the answer. I needed to read this book now, since I have spent a dreadfully painful two-years wrestling with doubts about the big business that is my chu ...more
Caleb Gibson
Mar 25, 2013 Caleb Gibson rated it did not like it
This should be titled,

"So you don't want to go to church anymore... Good neither do we!" Because no one in this story went back to church.

I like what one reviewer (Christine) said, "This was one of those books that I wasn't sure what was wrong with it until I nearly finished it, mainly because it's written as a journey & you're not quite sure of the final destination 'til the end..." I really read it thinking it was to help people go back to church and heal those wounds, but this book is ju
Aug 14, 2010 Christine rated it did not like it
This was one of those books that I wasn't sure what was wrong with it until I nearly finished it, mainly because it's written as a journey & you're not quite sure of the final destination 'til the end... There's a bit of wheat among the tares, but overall it has the potential to do much harm - encouraging frustrated people to just leave 'the institution of church' (which is to blame for pretty much everything) & just love & be loved by God. & love others. It's not particularly we ...more
Jan 08, 2010 Jenn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Got this book based on good Amazon reviews. It drew me in but then it became increasingly annoying. This is the second fiction book I've read about a disillusioned Christian who's getting advice from a mysterious character who seems to know everything. I'd strongly prefer an honest memoir about the authors' real life experiences. This is just really bad fiction. Not believable. Weird. Boring.
Interesting book about how church can interfere with our relationship with Jesus. Thought-provoking read that I would recommend to anyone. My only problem with it was that initially it seemed to blame all our spiritual problems on the organized church, which takes no responsibility on ourselves. Otherwise, had good insight into what churches often do wrong.
Jan 15, 2011 Shiloh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shiloh by: Stacie Davis, Joel Smith
This book came highly recommended by a couple of people. One of the authors had helped to write The Shack and I could see simialarities. It was written as a story, which I wasn't expecting, but very effective. There were a couple comments that I felt were not Biblical (as in the Shack), such as "We can't love what we fear." Considering how much the Bible talks about the fear of God being integral to our walk with Him, perhaps even more emphasized than the love of God, I felt this comment was in ...more
Feb 11, 2015 Becki added it
Shelves: book-collector
An allegory of sorts that seems to have some autobiographical content from the authors.\n \nThe title alone drew me to this book about fictional character Jake Colson. Jake meets a mysterious man, John, who challenges his views of himself, God's love and acceptance, and his concept of the church body. This book chronicles many encounters as Jake walks through months and even years of coming to terms with his 'need' to 'earn' God's love, his craving for acceptance, and his disillusionment with th ...more
Jun 22, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book explains my personal views of Christianity to a "tee". I loved every page of it and recommend it to everyone.
Trae Cadenhead
May 24, 2015 Trae Cadenhead rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing novel. The protagonist in the story senses early in the story, as many of us do, that church as he is experiencing it is not what it was intended to be. Through the wisdom of John he realizes he is focused far too much on the institution of church and far too little on a living, vibrant relationship with Christ himself. Over time he is changed to see Christ's church instead of the man-made organization. The book is a gentle, loving, but powerful critique on how the institutio ...more
Jan 12, 2009 Ned rated it liked it
OK, so you don't want to go to church anymore, don't expect this book to replace several thousand years of church teaching and make you guilt free. This is a book written by two former pastors who were upset with the "institutionalization" of the modern church, and they have a point. Problem is they use the vehicle of a disgrunteled pastor and the mysterious Apostle John, 2000 years after his most likely death to make thier point.

I would love to discuss the points made about true worship and fel
Feb 02, 2013 Pat rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone disillusioned or fed up with church and particularly church leaders.
Recommended to Pat by: Online friend
Great book and engagingly written. By another writer, the plot would have seem contrived, but by these two I felt drawn into the story. About halfway or a little more than halfway, I was really drinking it all in and couldn't wait to get to the end to see how everything worked out.

Here are some of the passages that spoke to me (my notes in italics):

"It seems like everyone I've talked to lately is running on empty--even Christians I've known for decades. I met with one of our elders yesterday, w
Jun 25, 2008 David rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All Christians, and those wanting to understand better what Jesus wants of His people
Recommended to David by: Amazon
Shelves: church
To my surprise, this turned out to be a novel, albeit an inspirational novel. The lead character, Jake, is taken through a series of steps starting with a position in an "institutional" church, by a man he knows only as John. Jake has no address, phone number, or email for John; John just appears in Jake's life from time to time and takes on a role as counselor and guide.

The counsel John gives makes a lot of sense, but it gives up altogether on the organization of the church. The book's definiti
Amy Wright
Very great book. I love how it's still a fictional story, therefore easy to get engrossed and follow it 'till the end. Like the Shack, I followed the story and with almost each chapter, was strongly reminded or learned for the first time, a human tendency we tend to have that we NEED to be reminded of to STOP IT.

Great book have never set foot in a church, or if you go to a church now or if you decided a long time ago you no longer want to attend a church. I think you'll find healing here
Sep 27, 2007 Mel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who feel obligated to attend church
Shelves: christianfiction
This book was given to me by my mother. It is written from the perspective of a minister, Jake, who encounters a man named "John". John bounces in and out of Jake's life, causing him no amount of trouble with his advice.

If you go to church because you feel like it pleases God, or it makes you a better person, or it makes your mother happy, you need to read this. If you think the program your church offers will bring people to faith, you need to read this book. If you stay away from church becau
Jan 11, 2010 Judy rated it really liked it
Having been raised in a legalistic home, this book opened my eyes to the Father's love and gentleness towards us. It also spurred me to rethink many long held beliefs in regards to organized religion and why religious programs don't work. Traditions and fallacies are challenged in the context of fiction. This is an excellent book for anyone seeking real answers about who God really is and is tired of the pat, "scripted" answers so often given by church leaders.

The book content gets 5 stars, but
Dec 14, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it
The title of this book is an apt warning of the different way of thinking its content offers. As I read this book I had to keep an open mind because it challenged much of what I have been taught for most of my life. Yet I am glad I did, and now I realize I have more freedom to think about what the church is than I used to believe I had.

The story was similar in many ways to what I have lived. All my life I have found myself feeling caged in an institution which couldn't offer what it promised, bu
Todd Wilhelm
Jun 15, 2015 Todd Wilhelm rated it it was amazing
This book is a fictitious account of a pastor who was tired of playing church and began searching for a deeper life with Christ. His journey led him out of the institutional church and into a whole new reality of what the church is. This book enhances the authors book "Finding Church: What if There Really is Something More?"

Once again I really liked this book as I could relate to so much of what the authors had to say.


“Why do people go to your church, Jake?” “Because we’re supposed to hav
Apr 17, 2015 Veronica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
So I haven't been going to church anymore and have felt mighty guilty about it. I have not been comfortable in any church over the last 5-10 years...too structured, too closed, too frantic, too demanding, etc.

I recently started reading a book about introverts (yes...hard to believe, I am an introvert) and there was a section in it about churches and how uncomfortable they make introverts (small group obligations, mandatory hand-shaking, etc.). For awhile there, I thought this was why I was unco
Jan 03, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
When someone's spirituality is shaken and you are wondering why God is dealing you all these trials and tribulations in life when in your mind you have done everything right. It makes you question why should I go to church. The foundation of our faith or so we believe. This book presents a pastor who questions his position and faith in this manner. A stranger is presented in his life and his name is John. John shares his wisdom about the kingdom of God and ways that this pastor can take a look a ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Lance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read many theological books but this is not one of them. It is a very readable (easy read) book about a pastor who is in a faith crisis largely because church is not responsive to his needs. Hung up in the nuts and bolts of running a church, he loses what he values the most - his relationship with God. What I like about it is it is more of a seeker type loss in that he doesn't loose what he never really had to begin with. The book searches for God through a relationship with (John- maybe ...more
Brandon Carter
Jun 23, 2016 Brandon Carter rated it really liked it
So pastor Gary has been passing this book around the church for awhile now, and if you’ve read it before, you’re probably thinking to yourself that this is an odd book for a pastor to pass around his church! You would be right. I doubt that many pastors in our culture would be at all comfortable with what this book has to say. I know a few of the people in our church who have read it and don’t feel very happy about it. When I put the title of the book into Google to find an image for this post, ...more
Paul Mills
Jun 23, 2014 Paul Mills rated it did not like it
I made it about half way through this book until I got fed up with the constant emotional emphasis. This is not even a well written fiction book. After I wiped the drool off of my mouth from this snoozer I decided to move on to something better to read.

Also, if you are looking for a good study on Ecclesiology (what is the church?) avoid this book like the plague. You will only get this tone "church is evil, religious institutions are bad, churches are all about self interests.."

Now, I understan
Oct 17, 2008 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone wondering if there is more to being a Christian than just going to a building
Recommended to Barbara by: Brian (who else?)
I have actually read this book twice. The second time was even better. I find that now I go to church for Bible studies because I want to see the people I like best and that's where they tend to be! But I also find that living as a Christian every day is exciting, challenging and so much more fulflling than I thought. I may read this book every 6 months, just because it seems to give me insight each time.
Jan 15, 2016 Wren rated it really liked it
Eye opening for any believer who is involved in organized religion. This book doesn't bash it, but focuses on how easily we make church our idol (or the pastor, the music, the color of the chairs, our own wants and desires...) and miss out on a real relationship with Jesus. After I read this I have lots of praying to do. It also helped me to see that just because someone doesn't attend a place of organized religion (I won't say "church" because we ARE the church, wherever we are) doesn't mean th ...more
Oct 31, 2009 Beate added it
Shelves: faith
This book is liberating to all christians who question the institutional church. Jake Colson reminds the reader that church practices are not biblical, because they are not in the bible to begin with. Therefore, don't let anybody tell you, that it is a sin if you don't belong to a church. Christ can care less what your church affiliation is.
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Wayne Jacobsen was a pastor for 20 years and a Contributing Editor to Leadership Journal and has authored numerous books and articles on spiritual formation, relational community and engagement of culture. Wayne also cohosts a weekly podcast at, out of which came his collaboration on the writing of The Shack and helped create Windblown Media, the publishing company behind the phe ...more
More about Wayne Jacobsen...

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“Because people get together, sit in a room, sing some songs and share scripture, they think they've experienced the life of the church. If that's all been real, they may have. More times than not, however, it's just a routine they feel good about having accomplished, but in the end they haven't really shared his life at all. That's why I like pulling commitment off of people. You find out where they really are on the inside and that's good for you and for them.” 5 likes
“You can't foster a relationship with someone who is always checking your performance to make sure it's adequate enough to merit his friendship.” 3 likes
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