QUICK HIT: If you’re comfortable in your Christianity and you’d prefer to stay that way, don’t read Interrupted. Get as far away from it as possible. But while you’re at it, throw your Bible out along with it. God did not call us to comfortable Christianity. There’s no such thing. If you need someone to jumpstart your journey, Jen Hatmaker is the person to do it. If you need someone to encourage you in the journey you’ve already started then, like me, you need this book.
When I sat down to think of what to write about this book, it took a while for me to get all of my thoughts straight. Interrupted hit me at a vulnerable moment, at a time where I’m both at once trying to solidify my future financially and learning to be a better giver. This summer, my wife and I—well, my wife, and I along for moral support—began with a goal: raise $10,000 to help two specific families with the process of their international special-needs adoption. In the months since, we’ve almost achieved that goal and one family has been fully funded and united with their child. But beyond that, the goal turned into an organization called Gathering Family. A summer thing turned into a life thing because the more we got into it, the more it got into us and became a part of who we are.
But this post is not about, it’s about Jen. Or maybe it is about me, because Interrupted helped me see that, first, we’re not alone, and, second, here’s a guide to someone who’s been there. My comfortable Christianity has been wrecked. God did that when he called this white kid to be a youth pastor at a Chinese church. He did that when he moved me from rural Indiana to urban/suburban Oklahoma. In the past year, my boundaries have been stretched to the breaking and I’ve found myself longing for opportunities that I wouldn’t have even considered a year ago.
But here I am talking about me, again. Sorry about that. But I feel this is necessary, because it shows you how strongly I connected with the Hatmakers’ and how strongly I connected with this book. Jen breaks the journey down into five phases.
First phase: Breaking Down. That’s the monumental shift from being comfortable with your faith to realizing that God’s a bit wilder than you’d like him to be. For Jen, this journey began with feeling empty even though they had everything a good middle-class Christian could want and ended with what she describes as a holy passion to serve the poor.
Second phase: The Horror of Actually Changing. This is where most people give up, I think. I suppose if you looked behind the mask of those playing “churchianity,” you’d see that there are more than a few who feel empty but never take this step because it’s actually hard. I’m going to include this quote because it hit me hard:
“I want the church to be great because we fed hungry mommas and their babies. I’d like to be great because we battled poverty with not just our money but our hands and hearts…My version of great will come when others are scratching their heads and saying, ‘Wow, you live a really different life.’”
Third phase: Getting Out There. Once you begin the change, you have to figure out how to grow and maintain it. Jen talks passionately about her (and husband Brandon’s) journey and what a change living this new life made in them.
Fourth phase: Finding Your Tribe. This is where I feel like I’m at in this stage. I’m fully committed and sold out to my passion—why is everyone else having trouble following along? Finding and partnering with others with similar passions (or growing others through the first few stages to this place) is of the utmost importance. Jen and Brandon talk about their church plant and growing a faith community that focuses on the poor, the outcast, the destitute, the unchurched. It’s a beautiful story that really spoke to me personally in the part of life I’m in now.
Fifth phase: Sent. You can’t stay still. You just can’t. If you’re following that holy passion, if you’ve got your tribe, then you start moving outward. Again, Jen writes her story beautifully and wonderfully as you see God working in her life.
Let me conclude here with a warning. If you’re comfortable in your Christianity and you’d prefer to stay that way, don’t read this book. Get as far away from it as possible. But while you’re at it, throw your Bible out along with it. God did not call us to comfortable Christianity. There’s no such thing. If you need someone to jumpstart your journey, then you need this book. If you need someone to encourage you in the journey you’ve already started then, like me, you need this book.