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Thoughts on “Jesus Killed My Church”.

Kelsey and I are preparing to take a one week writing retreat, the kind where you hole up somewhere and emerge from the cave with a finished masterpiece. (expectations will be adjusted to match production).  In 2010 we wrote “The Spirit of Adoption” together – this time we’re working on separate projects.

I won’t go into explaining hers, mostly because I’m still getting my head around my own.

For several years I’ve had a google document titled “Jesus Killed My Church.” It started as a prayer room brain dump chronicling the inception, gestation, birth, brief rise and sudden fall of our church plant, roughly 1998-2002.  It’s not a long document – less than 6,000 words – but embedded in it are lessons that speak volumes.

Why write about a failure?

There are a million books about success, and I find 99% of them to be slightly less than honest. It’s ridiculous to write about failure without being honest – there’s no point. We guild our successes to make ourselves look responsible for them – even when they’re dumb luck – but our failures? No, those are ours and we know it.

Additionally, what appears to fail before our eyes is often the hand of the Lord guiding us. I’ve come to treasure this failure as a gift. Painful? Yes, but a gift none the less, and it’s one I’d like to unpack in words.

I expect this book to be painfully autobiographical.  In addition to God pulling the plug, I made significant, well intended, honest mistakes along the way.   I don’t know how I can expound on them without telling the stories.  My prayer is to help some people avoid those mistakes, and to help others see there way through their own.

There’s more to this though….

An autobiographical work with a few essay style bunny trails is probably not worth the paper it’s written on unless the author includes an aspect of ‘now what?’.

Part of the reason Jesus killed my church (Understand, I’m not accusing Him.  He admitted it) is that it exhibited His perfect leadership in my life and the greater life of the Church.  I have good reason to believe that even if I did it all right, He would have did what he did.  Moreover, He may be planning to kill yours too, and I’d like you to be better prepared for what’s on the other side of the yellow tape once the crime scene is swept.

Why am I telling you all this?

Life was created, but concepts evolve.  You think you’re reading pre-release hype (about a failure?) but in reality, you’re watching the evolution of a message that has been maturing in me for a long time.  It is not what it will be, but it is more than it was, and all this talk on my part helps get it clearer in my head.

Months ago, a friend suggested “You should write a book about how you got to be….uh, the way you are.”.

I’m not sure that this is the sort of project he was thinking about it, but this is probably the book that will explain a lot of it.

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3 Responses

  1. can’t wait to read it! i’m part of a church plant now, and know a couple of church planters, and i’m sure it’ll be a refreshing book for all of us. we need permission to fail with grace, and we definitely need a big picture perspective. looking forward…

  2. Good luck we need more books by bohlenders. I’ll be praying.

  3. YAY!!!!!

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