Author WAYNE JACOBSEN
I was asked to read this book, (it is available for Kindle as well) and offer my thoughts. What constitutes real church is its subject matter and Wayne Jaobsen offers his very pertinent views. So very much here that we with gladness say a hearty ‘amen’ to, and yet, my reservations would simply be, are the brush strokes the author employs too broad? As you would expect, in these days of a profound dissatisfaction with ‘church’ by many of her members, at least in the westernised world and those impacted by the value systems of the west; there have been a proliferation of books as to what church should be. Incarnational church, organic church, house church, cell church, emotionally healthy church and so the list goes on. Some of the books advocating these alternative church models have a decidedly sharp negative edge to them. The result of unresolved hurts and idealism in the authors sometimes, no doubt. This book does have a critical edge, even a slightly superior tone, but it is difficult to write on such a subject without lots of use of, “what is in the institutional and what we see in the New Testament.” At least Jacobsen is not forever banging the drum too loudly. His contrasts are judicious and relevant, again though, perhaps too much generalisation on the negative side and also on what ought to be and what he has begun to find in the last twenty years or so since he left a pastorate of a formal church. The basic premise is that the church is based in our living in the love of the Father, brought to us by the Spirit through the Son. Everything is sourced in as intimate relationship with Jesus, and thus abiding in compassion, trust and rest undergirds everything about church life. It is simple, leadership is minimal, he even states that we do not really need teachers because the Holy Spirit will teach us all, neither to we need ‘meetings’. (A small example of the broad brush stroke I mention earlier). Out with organisation and meetings, into a spontaneity rooted in fellowship with Jesus and thus with others He brings our way. This is a long distance from what is usually found nowadays though he acknowledges that within the churches there are those who abide in such a relationship with the Lord but tend to be stifled and frustrated in the organisational. He uses the phrase ‘inside the kingdom (of God) on a number of occasions. That is very helpful, contrasting the ways the church mirrors the methods of the world around it whereas ‘inside the kingdom’ it is different. The road presented here is far from what is usual in church life with its various systems and organisations. Much of this has been said before though not so clearly and concentratedly. We can read this and receive benefit, whether we can travel all the way with him is another question though.