I requested a free preview copy of the new edition of Jen Hatmaker's book, "Interrupted". This was available for bloggers, and the only requirement was that the blog be updated at least 4 times a month. I thought, well, I qualify for that, and I'm a huge fan of Jen, so I'll request one of those.
It's kind of a running joke at our house that Jen Hatmaker is my imaginary best friend. We were at Taco Bell the other day and I said "Well, Jen Hatmaker said on Facebook that she had the Dorito tacos for dinner, so I guess I had better order that." They weren't too bad.
Anyway, this isn't a review of Taco Bell, this is a review of "Interrupted". I love reading Jen's writing because she is funny and easy to read. I don't have a lot of extra brain juice left at the end of each day, so I struggle to read anything too scholarly these days. What I really love about her writing, though, is how she takes the inner tension so many of us carry about our faith and puts it out there for us all to gather around.
"Interrupted" is the story of how Jen and her husband, Brandon, had their lives turned totally upside down by God. They were megachurch ministers, climbing the ladder and building their kingdom, when God made the gospel come to life for them in a whole new way. She learned that Christ was constantly talking about "the least of these" and the upside down kingdom of God. Her story reads so much like mine. I struggled with that inner tension for years before I was able to put word to it. It was a few more years before I started to find a "tribe" who felt the same way. I felt like I never really knew Jesus before I learned about his compassion for the lowliest of his sheep. I was bewildered and worn out trying to fulfill the obligations that were put on me by church and religion, almost to the point of giving up. Then, Jesus helped me let go of the weighty to-do list that I was mislabeling as faith.
Ultimately, Jen and her husband were led to start a church, and much of "Interrupted" describes the lessons they learned on their journey. It also contains a lot of really sobering facts about institutional church, or as most of us call it, "church". Our nation is losing churches and church members at an alarming rate, and Jen helps us work through some of the reasons this may be happening.
Who is this book for?
I recommend reading interrupted if you are:
1) struggling with your own walk with God and wondering if you're missing something.
2) feeling burdened by the American way of life - pursuing more stuff and more prestige and feeling less fulfilled by it all than you expected.
3) seeing the cultural trend away from church involvement and wanting to know how you can help.
4) if you have teenager, kids or young adults in your life. You have to familiarize yourself with these ideas. I teach a young adult Bible study, and even from these churched kids, I'm hearing their frustration with the American church on a weekly basis.
Like I said, Jen's journey reminds me of my own in a lot of ways, I think that's why I connect with her so much. Even though the concepts in "Interrupted" were not new to me, I'm so thankful that I reread it this week. I think it was divinely inspired. I needed that reminder that this nation is aching for something new, but what it really needs is something ancient - like a God who decided to take 33 years to come spend with the least of us, and asks us to do the same.
I'll be hosting a giveaway in the next few days, so watch for it!