Careful What You Pray For

In her book, Interrupted (An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith), author Jen Hatmaker tells the riveting story of the unexpected transformation that took place in her (and her husband, and their life and ministry) after she prayed a dangerous prayer: "Raise up in me a passion."

Early on, the book struck a strong chord with me as she described the tensions she felt as a pastor's kid, Christian college grad, pastor's wife, Christian author, and long-time Christian:
I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there was...something off for me. ...Brandon and I were far too consumed with worthless things. We spent an unhealthy amount of time dreaming about our next house, our next financial increase, our next level of living. Next. We were the opposite of counter-culture. We were a mirror image of culture, just a churched-up version. I was vaguely aware of this, but we had so few around us who questioned the American Dream, it was easily dismissed.

And yet.

There were other question marks. Like why wouldn't people commit to our church programs, despite the endless work poured into them? And why did 70 percent of the initial enthusiasts drop out by the end? Why did the same people end up doing everything? Why did so many leave claiming they needed more when we were all working eighty hours a week to meet their needs ? Why couldn't I recall the last person I led to Christ? Why did I spend all my time blessing people who should be on the giving side of the equation by now?
Wow. If that ain't hittin' the nail on the head, I don't know what is.

She goes on in the book to trace her spiritual journey from Churchianity (my word) to the revolutionary call of Jesus. She does so compellingly, yet without applying a guilt trip or formula. And she does so winsomely, with frequent humor. For example, I loved how she lambastes our tendency in the church to make quick assumptions about people instead of settling in to truly know people, long-term. She contrasts several pictures people might have of her based on separate fact groups:
Here's one set: I grew up in a lower-middle-class, blue-collar town in Kansas; I joined the party sorority in college; and I have a tattoo on my wrist.
Most of us would draw a certain picture of her based on those facts. But then she offers a second set of facts:
I am a pastor's daughter, a pastor's wife, and a Christian author; and I graduated magna cum laude from a conservative Baptist college.
She makes her point: "We cannot possibly know all there is to know about anyone without digging deep, getting close, and providing a safe place for them to be known." Lord, help us.

I thought the first part of the book, describing the process by which Jesus "interrupted" her life and led her and her family into a more complete and more radical understanding of the Gospel, was much more compelling than the latter half, where she describes the end of one ministry and beginning of another...but it's all worth reading.

You can learn more, view an informational video, and buy the book here.

This book was provided for review by the publisher, NavPress.

1 comment:

  1. I like your word 'churchianity'.. very expressive.