Eric O. Jacobsen is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington, and teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary. In this wide-ranging and enlightening book, the author focuses on the yearning that fans of the popular TV show Cheers affirmed in its theme song: "You want to be where everyone knows your name."
Today churches are trying to reach the many lonely people with the lure of belonging to a community where they will be loved and cherished. The only trouble is that many of these people are hooked on three screens which mediate this world to them:
"These are the notorious three pieces of glass … the car, the television, and the smartphone have made our lives easier and more entertaining, but together they have vastly reduced the frequency, duration, and quality of our public interactions."
The mythology of "worldly belonging" that enables these screens to have so much power in our lives stems from some common characteristics: they are exclusive, contractual, enemy focused, and malformative. Here is an opening for Christian communities to foster the kind of belonging which involves real gathering in real places and trying to welcome strangers by making them feel at home.
In the closing chapters of Three Pieces of Glass, Jacobson challenges congregations to do whatever it takes to make the most of the promise of homecoming, telling a good story, pondering communally shaped choices, and capitalizing on the art and craft of place attachment.