Like most of us who follow Jen Hatmaker, I discovered her via 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, truly fell in love after her Worst End School Year Mom Ever, and have relied on her humorous Facebook posts for my daily laugh ever since. She's funny, sarcastic, and has enough real crazy authenticity to make me feel normal and known. For those of you with cable, you can now see a bit of what I mean on HGTV's "My Big Family Renovation."
But she's deep.
Her session on the cost of discipleship and the meaning of the Eucharist at last year's IF: Gathering woke me up to a new reality. And there's this book. Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. Interrupted is the prequel to 7, the story behind the experiment. I devoured it on the heels of reading 7 and am now thrilled to be chosen as one of the 250 bloggers to review the revised and expanded edition and offer a free copy to one of my readers!
Interrupted is both a birth story of a church and Jesus' story of his heart for the poor. Jen takes us through the journey of being shaken out of the comfort of blessing the blessed in her church, speaking, and writing ministry. She and her husband wrestle through scripture and personal experiences to discover a "new" way of reaching their neighbor, the marginalized, and God's kingdom. Basically, she wakes up to the reality that she's been reading the Bible all wrong. Unable to go on spiritualizing verses such as feed my sheep, they embark on planting a church and relocating their family.
Interrupted is a people's guide to Christian community development, God's heart for justice, and the American church's wake up call combined. Many of Jen's sources are books I read for my MA in International Community Development. But hers is a tangible, enjoyable, practical read (not that my books were not, but you know, she's funny!) Church planters should walk away a bit sobered, considering their methods and evaluating their plans.
Overall, I saw myself in these pages. After a decade of ministry to college students, operating in a classic message driven, program centered way, we hobbled into grad school weary and wondering. I too was wrecked by words I had spiritualized and glossed over year after year. My heart broke for the poor and then, slowly, for myself. Jen says it better:
Transformation came in the form of dirty homeless men and abandoned kids. It came through abused women and foster children. It came through neighbors crying at my kitchen table. Transformation began with humility, even humiliation. It started with conviction and discipline. It increased through loss, not gain. It grew through global exposure and uncomfortable questions. It was born out of rejection, replanted in new soil. It was not found in my Christian subculture but in the eyes of my neighbors, the needs of my city, the cries of the nations. It was through subtraction, not addition, that transformation engulfed me, and I'll tell you something:
I am not the same.
You'll have to read it for yourself! Enter today to win a free copy of Interrupted or buy it where all books are sold.
Jan Hatmaker is the author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and A Modern Girl's Bible Study series. With a heart for her generation, she speaks at conferences around the country. Jen resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Brandon, and their five children. To learn more about Jen and follow her blog, go to www.jenhatmaker.com.