By Amanda Petersen
It is not hard to come across yet another voice of cynicism and dissent shouting from the crowd of young adults in regards to their church experience. Perhaps I have come to a place where I expect anything relating the church and gen-x to be loaded with hurt, frustration, and disillusionment, but rarely with action. For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up Paul Vieiras book, Jesus Has Left The Building.
Jesus Has Left The Building takes a close look at the condition of the church. Written from the perspective of his own journey of leaving his role as a lead pastor in an institutional church, Vieira examines the both the history and current state of the church, as well as sharing his own story.
Throughout the first half, Vieira shares with the reader his personal history with the church (both institutional and otherwise), while paying close attention to how this lines up with the vast range of modern day struggles with the building. Each piece that is discussed is laced with examples from scripture, and reflected in the positive light of the potential to be had by Christs followers. Never is Vieiras writing simply a rant or expulsion of bitterness about the institutions short-comings.
He quickly removes any reasoning that we are simply to choose between a lifeless institution and a solitary journey away from a close knit and missional body of Christ followers. Coming from the perspective of someone who has taken the steps himself to discover church in its full potential, the book leads us to the view that the only way this can happen is outside of the church walls. I appreciate his boldness in plainly stating what he has learned through is study of scripture and experiential practices, without sugar-coating the hard parts. When asking questions such as whether or not we were even meant to plant churches, it is easy to take the well traveled road and deliver a few lines of rhetoric, but that is not at all the route chosen.
The second half profiles characteristics and examples of the early church, with special emphasis on Jesus ministry with his disciples. Although the first portion of the book elicits much more of a heart response, the clues that Vieira has discovered and displayed are a vital part of our journey to re-discover genuine church. We are encouraged to not sit still and wait for the church to meets our needs, but to enter into the world with the love that has been demonstrated to us through Christ, connecting with other believers and loving in the simple ways that we are called to do.
Being someone who has left the building in many ways myself, I found it so easy to relate to this piece of writing. Ultimately, I was refreshed by Vieiras display of action in response to the need he sees for change, and encouraged by his humility in expressing that he is also on a journey of his own.
Jesus Has Left The Building comes with a strong recommendation to anyone who is looking to further understand the direction the church is headed, or simply looking for a fresh voice to guide them on their personal experience with the the bulding or lack thereof.
Check out Paul & his current projects at: