This evening was the book launch for Paul Vieira‘s first book, Jesus Has Left the Building. I attended, drank some coffee, saw a few people I haven’t connected with in a while, and had a brief visit with Paul.
The book title comes from an interview that Opra Winfrey did with Bono a few years ago, and it deliberately gives the allusion to the notion that Jesus has left the building (the church) and the party there is over. As he was writing it, he intended that it would be his farewell to the institutional church, and the epilogue (which he read at the launch) reads that way. Paul speaks in (institutional) churches as he travels, but his message is becoming a little less welcome… he left the church a few years ago, intending to live outside the walls. Apparently the book has a “twist” at the end, which is odd for a book of this type… but for that reason, I don’t know how it ends yet. It does have the distinction of endorsement from the odd combination of Winkie Pratney and David Ruis.
The book includes Paul’s story, which is an interesting one. I’ve known Paul for probably 15-17 years or thereabouts. I know his parents, and I’m aware of several parts of his journey, though I’m looking forward to reading about other parts of it in the book. While still in high school, Paul started a small gathering in his parents’ home with some friends, singing and seeing what God would do. It grew to about 50 young people, and then over time, grew further to about 700 kids attending each month. After about 4 or 5 years, Paul and his team felt clearly that it was time to shut it down, which they did… 14 years ago today. I’m looking forward to digging into the book, and intend to blog more about it once I have.
For now, lots of resonating between people who didn’t let the door hit them on the way out one Sunday, and never looked back. This evening I even spoke with a pastor who seems restless in his role… and for him, it’s likely just a matter of time. There were quite a number there who could relate. Jesus, yes, church, no. There are so many more out there, and as Paul put it, “we’re finding each other.”