My friend Jeff Noble is the pastor of Northstar Church in Blacksburg, VA, and the author of the recently released book, Super Center Savior: The Joy of Living Between Sundays. Jeff was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book on the blog today:d
1. Explain the title of the book. Why do you call Jesus a super center Savior?
Great question. First of all, the message of the book is that life is “super when centered on the Savior.” The title of the book is intended to communicate two things:
1. Our society is consumed with consumerism. It’s best evident in the presence of retail super centers that dot the landscape. We love our stores big, with lots of options, full of shiny new things. We want to be able to buy our underwear and our lettuce in the same place. We’re addicted to convenience.
2. Our society needs a Savior. We cannot meet our needs by buying our way out. The book is a comparative analogy of the church and Walmart that is both thought-provoking and playful. Its audience is Christians and church leaders who have allowed ministry to become mundane and have lost the joy of living in-between Sundays for the glory of God.
2. You use a lot of analogies in the book that mainly concern Wal-Mart and faith. Why do you think that’s a powerful metaphor for people to hear?
Wal-Mart is in the news every day. Anyone living in a community that has a Walmart will connect with the book. In particular, churches and their members in the Bible Belt will be significantly challenged about what real ministry is. It’s not about what happens inside the walls of a church but in our everyday lives – in schools, neighborhoods and yes, even Wal-Marts. The book challenges church leaders to get out of the activity-planning business which expects their members to always be “at church” and instead encourage and equip them to be “the church” in their communities.
Super Center Savior is a dynamic tool and talking-point for Christians and their unchurched friends and coworkers alike. Each chapter portrays a different analogy of how we can learn (and some things we can’t) from big box stores. The principles are intended to encourage readers to consider what actually living for God looks like in an ordinary life. Wal-Mart is the central motif in the metaphor because it’s a familiar, well-trafficked destination for many of us.
3. What specifically do you hope people take away from reading the book?
Perhaps a better question would be “What do I NOT want readers to take away?” First of all, I don’t want them to receive a guilt-induced “you can do better” message. I want them to laugh and nod their heads at the Wal-Mart/church analogy. I want readers to step away from Super Center Savior with a warm-hearted desire to embrace a new perspective on living for Christ that enables them to enjoy their relationship with God in Christ and love their communities.
4. What does a church look like when Jesus is more than a super center Savior?
The church is the visible expression of Jesus in every generation. Christians are the body and voice of God in their generation. When Jesus is not the center of the church and the everyday affection of Christians, we lose our influence and purpose in our post-Christian nation. As the church has lost its voice, the influence of any institution that meets legitimate needs has increased. Wal-Mart has become just such an institution. Even today in our debt-laden culture, Wal-Mart’s latest commercials remind us again of what they’re doing for the average American family –providing savings. Yet Christians have so much more to offer through the love of God in Christ, and He alone can provide true saving.
As the body of Christ returns to a loving relationship with Christ, Sundays will become more and less special. They’ll become more special because our worship gatherings will become more vibrant and intentional, and they’ll become less special because we will recover the absolute joy of living with and for Christ between Sundays.