Saturday, June 17, 2006

You can't pay me to go to church?

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From this week's Synthesis lectionary study:

It's an odd headline at best: "Author Wins Atheist in eBay Auction." We're all accustomed to bizarre eBay offerings: the toasted cheese sandwich (partially eaten) with the alleged image of Jesus' face on it; the selling of foreheads and bare noggins as advertising space to the highest bidder. What could be stranger?

Lori Smith tells us in Publishers Weekly's online Religion BookLine: Jim Henderson, former pastor and author of a. k. a. "Lost": Discovering Ways to Connect with the People Jesus Misses Most (WaterBrook, 2005), bid $504.00 on eBay in February to win the right to send Chicago atheist Hemant Mehta to church. Mehta, who was raised in Jainism and had never been to a Christian church, offered to attend one service for every $10 bid. "I thought it would be a good opportunity to put my [atheist] beliefs under scrutiny," he told RBL.

Henderson asked Mehta to attend 10 or 15 services, blog about his experiences (click here), and handle any media interviews that arose out of the experience. "I am not using this particular project to convert Hemant," Henderson said. "I am hiring him to help me gather information so that Christians can get better reality about how to approach people like this." Having visited about seven churches so far, Mehta said he has been surprised to find church "a nice place to be."

Henderson is executive director of, an organization aimed at "helping Christians not be jerks, or helping Christians be normal," he said, especially when it comes to evangelism. In his book, Henderson details a new approach to evangelism, which he describes as "getting Christians connecting again with non-Christians in authentic, human, doable and enjoyable ways." Mehta and Henderson have been approached by several publishers about doing a joint book.


Fr Timothy Matkin said...

And on an unrelated note:

I grilled up some Buffalo burgers for Melisa and me this afternoon. That Bison is a tasty animal.

Chris Coucheron-Aamot said...

Bison is my very favorite red meat. I went to college in Santa Fe, which is close enough to several ranches that allow bison hunting for me to be the beneficiary of some hunters with a gross excess of fresh yummy bison. Marinate in some soy sauce and grill over hot coals under clear high desert stars, and you will have the makings for one fine evening.

Next time you're in Chicago, go to the Heartland Cafe and try the buffalo burrito. It's the best burrito outside of the west.