This is a book review I wrote for Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors God for a Firsthand Faith. I appreciate Glenn Packiam’s perspective as a pastor, musician, theologian, and worship leader. He currently lives in the context of western Christianity, and recently weathered one of the biggest church scandals to ever come along, with perhaps the exception of PTL in the late 1980’s. He also has a unique perspective of Jesus from outside the Mid-Western church box since he lived in Malaysia and England. In the tradition of Donald Miller and Mark Steele he writes in a memoir story style that is perceptive and easy for the reader to digest.
As a youth pastor at Shoreline Church in Austin, Texas, I ask questions along the lines proposed in 2nd Hand Jesus. I’m grateful for the tone of his questions. It wasn’t bitter or snobby. I can tell he genuinely loves the Church (with a big C). At Shoreline, we have great volunteers, a supportive pastor, more than adequate meeting space, and a genuine desire to help youth in our community. However we as a youth ministry, feel like we are missing something. Glenn puts his finger on many areas youth ministries need to work on.
Specifically, Glenn highlights Jesus teachings about the “good life” dismissing the rumor that God just wants people to have “easy” lives. Glenn Packiam also observed the propensity for many churches to become a “one-stop spiritual shopping” church. We have groups for everything that you can think of and if we are not careful churches can point people to themselves and their organizational structure instead of Jesus.
Thankfully, Glenn Packiam didn’t attempt to wrap everything up in a nice little bow with trite formulas and cheesy slogans. He doesn’t set himself up to have all the answers. Instead, he leaves these rumors open for dialog. This is a great book for conversation and to read in community. I look forward to adding this book and its ideas into the curriculum of our ministry to teenagers and young adults and recommend it without reservation.