I have a love-hate relationship with Walmart Super Centers. I love them for their low prices and convenience. I think the millions of people who shop at Walmart every week would agree with me. I think it’s the millions of shoppers who agree with me who contribute to the “hate” part of my relationship with Walmart. There’s nothing like shopping for ketchup and laundry detergent with a few hundred of your closest, pajama-pant-wearing, snotty-nosed-kid-toting, flu-carrying friends. Like it or not, Walmart is a major part of the American way of life. But until I read my friend Jeff Noble‘s book Super Center Savior, I had never noticed how much my neighborhood Walmart has in common with my neighborhood church.
Before I tell you about the book, let me give you a little background on Jeff. I met Jeff and his wife Carolyn when were all students at Ouachita Baptist University. Jeff was the first person to put the idea of blogging into my head even before I decided to follow Carpool Queen into the murky waters of blogdom. I have guest posted on his blog and he thanked me by posting an embarrassing picture of us on a TWIRP* date (a Sadie Hawkins kind of thing we did at OBU). That’s the kind of friend Jeff Noble is. Oh, I kid. I felt honored when he asked me to preview his book last summer, but we were in the process of a crazy move and as much as I wanted to read the book when it was just a baby, I just couldn’t fit it into my days or nights. So, I didn’t get to read Super Center Savior until it was all grown up into a real-life book.
Jeff is a pastor with a shepherd’s heart, so initially I thought this book would be geared towards ministers, but really, this book is just as informative to anyone who has (or even wants) a relationship with Jesus. That’s not to say that this book doesn’t have lots to say to those to whom God has entrusted the day-to-day ministry of the local church. In fact, I was amazed at how well Jeff relayed his message to both those who serve the church as an occupational calling and those who may only be weekend attenders. It’s hard to communicate effectively to multiple audiences, but Jeff has done that masterfully in this book.
I think what I love most about this book is its practical application supported by God’s Word. But this isn’t stuffy, over-your-head theology. Even if you’ve never met Jeff, if you read this book you would feel like you were sitting across a table from him at a Starbucks, talking about living life between Sundays in the places God put us to represent Him. I certainly didn’t feel like Jeff was preaching at me, but in several chapters I identified ways that I’m missing out on living out my relationship with Jesus.
For example, in one example where the church has more in common with Walmart than it should, he talks about how sometimes, like Walmart, the church offers us a lot more than we need. Of course we are to use our gifts to serve in the church, but this statement struck a chord: “If you’re consistently involved in the activities and ministries of your church but not in your community, you may be attempting to meet your own religious needs rather than the needs of others.” Later in another chapter he says, “Life is lived 24 hours a day. Let’s get out there and live it with people rather than with the version of Christianity that allows us to go ‘to’ church and then go home without interaction with people that don’t know God.” I’ve thought about it and I realized that I have very little interaction on a daily basis with people who don’t think like me and live like me. I’m too busy going from good thing to good thing to stop and see the ministry opportunities when my life intersects with other people that may need a kind word, a prayer, or even just eye contact. I’m frantically doing life, but I often forget that the reason I’m still here on Planet Earth is to represent Jesus to the people God puts in my day.
This would be a great book to read through with your spouse or another friend or in a small group setting. I highlighted lots of good stuff that I’d love to flesh out with some friends. Jeff even mentioned some other books that I now want to read to add even more to the discussion he initiated. I feel like Jeff started the conversation, but left plenty of room for us to add our voices. Kind of like a brainstorming session where the capital “C” Church gets together to talk about how we can better do little “c” church to make it better represent what Jesus had in mind when he entrusted it to His best friends. How have we followed in the disciples’ footsteps and where have we gone off the trail? How do we tear down the walls of our church that keep us looking inward to make ourselves available to those who need what we have the most? I think Super Center Savior offers some great insight on how to begin answering those questions. And if you’d like to connect with Jeff, he blogs regularly at www.journeyguy.com and I know him well enough to know he’d be more than happy to interact with you. Although I would be careful about giving him access to any embarrassing big-hair college pictures that you don’t want the world to see.