I spent some time sitting in the park with Daniel this afternoon finishing I Sold My Soul on Ebay: Viewing Faith Through an Atheist’s Eyes by Hemant Mehta. In summary if you’re involved in church work this is a MUST read.
The book tells the story of how Mehta, an atheist, auctioned off on ebay the opportunity for the winning bidder to send him to church. Jim Henderson, a former pastor won the bid and asked him to attend a number of churches and critique them. This book is Mehta’s findings which he writes in a wonderful style, regardless of your standpoint on the question of God and religion. Mehta shows why his reputation as the Friendly Atheist is well deserved.
His key findings are summarised in chapter 9, highlighting first some things churches are doing right:
- Top-notch preachers and speakers
- Community outreach
- Energy level and passion
- Dialogue featuring opposing viewpoints
- Relevant Sermons
And in contrast these were some of the consistent negatives he found with churches:
- A lack of sensitivity to nonreligious people
- Too much time devoted to singing
- Not paying attention in church
- Distracting behaviour during worship
- Lack of opportunities to ask questions
- Religious extremism
- Confusing rituals and traditions
- Intrusive projection screens
I always find it very hard to get useful feedback about how church is run, feedback is very subjective and normally just from Christians, this is a very helpful and thought provoking book.