Invisible Church: Ministering From a Place of Privilege?

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 7.25.19 PMA BOOK REVIEW

“One thing I know from both the taxi and life, is that being invisible is hard and it is lonely and it hurts.”

Author Pat Green is my friend and I felt humbled and blessed to be at the pre-launch of his new book. I was saddened that the pub was not bursting at the seams with the scores of Christians and congregants that once followed his ministry. I’m sure that he was not surprised.

“Night Moves: An Ex-Preacher’s Journey to Hell in a Taxi” is a poignant account of Pat’s story and how rejection, divorce, brokenness and unemployment led him to driving a taxi and nightly encounters of human tragedy and loneliness.

It was just a couple of months ago that I realized that I was no longer seeing Facebook updates from Pat. I’m glad I found him and his writings once again but I am embarrassed to say that I never knew that his world had been turned upside down. To others, and myself Pat became invisible and there are many living just outside the walls of our churches who remain unknown. Pat’s introduces us to some of their stories.

“In a city that spans seven zip codes with well over 100,000 people, that boasts over 200 churches and has signs claiming all are welcome, she has to pay retail for her community.”

Pat found scores of broken people in need of community and found himself loved by his new TeleCab co-workers while at his lowest. When his father died of a heart attack, he returned to work and a card filled with warm condolences. His operations manager “did better than many ministers I know and we are trained for that stuff,” he shares. He continues, “I have almost every word in that card memorized.”

Where were we, church? Invisible.

Throughout the book there are convicting passages that exhort the church and her leaders to “stop trying to ‘minister’ from a place of privilege.” He recalls his time as a pastor thinking he was “the hero” with the answers but comes to grips with the disquieting truth that we have no solution.

11390067_1623615991243432_9128950744981564004_nI highly recommend this book – especially to my local pastor friends. These stories from the streets of Joliet are a wake-up call to those who may spend the majority of their time with planning and processes and miss what’s really going on with people. Real ministry takes place when we get involved in the real and raw everyday life of those in our communities. Pat reminds us that we “are never going to change the streets with a church. All a church can be is an oasis…” “Jesus did not go out among the people and help them find a synagogue home. He invited them to live together in the trenches.”

I am a non-fiction reader and usually have a hard time reading short stories, but Pat has a way with words and making every scene come to life. I loved every easy-to-read chapter and was astounded by Chapter 28 “We’ll Fix It.” I didn’t even use a highlighter until the end of the chapter leaving behind a brightly inscribed WOW!

If you pick up your own copy of the book – you will laugh, you will cry, and hopefully you will be changed forever. The lives of others depend on it. We cannot remain invisible!

WARNING: This book does contain language, but so do the streets.