I was so excited when my friend Jake finally agreed to come with me to church. We had been friends for a year and hung out almost every week, but he always turned down my invitation with an excuse. When he finally said “yes” I was so pumped I had to literally hide my excitement and play it off cool as not to scare him. This was a big deal. I cared about Jake. God was changing my life in amazing ways and I wanted him to have the same experience.
The day finally arrived and I wasn’t totally sure if Jake would show up, so I waited for him outside. When he walked up I could immediately tell he was uncomfortable. He was wearing an awkwardly long flannel shirt with the sleeves pulled down to cover all his tattoos. I did my best to joke around with him and get him to relax, but I could tell he already felt like he didn’t belong.
That was the moment I began to see things from Jake’s point of view. And faith was starting to look complicated.
He hugged people he had never met.
He sang songs he had never heard. (I think one of them was about a lamb)
He listened to a sermon about a book he had never read.
And I’m pretty sure he will never look at crackers and juice the same way again.
When church was over Jake turned to me, “I need a cigarette.”
Honestly, I was a little exhausted too. I had desperately wanted this day to go so well for my friend and just spent the last two hours leaning over his shoulder trying to explain all the nuances to make it less confusing.
Jake never came to church with me again.
Let me be clear, I am not blaming the church. I believe in the church. I pastor a church! This not a book about how to “do church.” This isn’t a book with all the answers and it certainly isn’t a comprehensive study of systematic theology. This is simply a guide to help anyone who has ever felt left out, confused or overwhelmed by faith. I wrote this book as an attempt to help un-complicate any of those big questions.
I wrote this book for the “Jakes.”
Justice Coleman is the founding pastor of Freedom Church in Los Angeles, California. He is a husband, father of three and gifted communicator with a passion to help people follow Jesus and keep faith uncomplicated for everyday life.