Pastor’s book focuses on restoring the faith
By Wendy Foster For The Sun February 13, 2013 5:12PM
Pastor Jonathan Fisk of Bethany Lutheran Church of Naperville. | Submitted by Pastor Fisk
Updated: March 16, 2013 6:16AM
Jonathan Fisk is a bit of a super star in Lutheran circles.
The youth pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church has an established following from his website www.worldvieweverlasting.com, and from its popular semi-weekly video. Capitalizing on his celebrity while fulfilling a long-time dream, Fisk recently penned his first book, “Broken: 7 ‘Christian’ Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible.” Fisk will sign books at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville.
Fisk started his website and videos several years ago while he was a pastor at a small church in Philadelphia. After stumbling on a YouTube podcast by a 24-year old man, which drew 2.5 million views, Fisk decided he needed to use the power of the Internet to help get important messages out about Christianity. His videos about Christian teachings and values have wide appeal.
“There’s a connection that other media doesn’t have,” he said.
The number of actual viewers is unclear.
“I don’t know exact numbers, but my experience is that it’s popular, within the church body,” he said. “I get interview requests, telephone calls and emails. I’m a pastor. People want my autograph, which is unusual for a pastor.”
Pastor Timothy Rossow of Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville says the church’s attendance numbers certainly have gone up since Fisk arrived.
“Many of them are traveling in the area and make the effort to find Bethany, Naperville so they can meet him,” Rossow said. “Others are from that area and are new to the Lutheran Church. We have recently received some new members who travel nearly 40 miles to church each week.”
He says Fisk’s website has brought many their way.
“They found Bethany through Pastor Fisk’s website over a year ago and now have become faithful members,” Rossow said. “It is not unusual for Pastor Fisk to announce in the church office that he is off to lunch with someone who has contacted him through his website because they are struggling with religious questions or thinking about leaving their church.”
Three years ago Fisk was approached by a publisher who had seen his website and videos.
“My undergraduate degree was in creative writing. When he asked if I wanted to write a book, I said, ‘it’s what I’ve wanted to do my whole life!’” he said.
Fisk said the book identifies seven mistakes, misdirections or as he calls them “counterfeit” of Christianity.
“I try to diagnose the mistakes and then try to replace that with historic and ancient proof,” he said.
Modern Christianity is often displayed as a “mumbo-jumbo goulash of ideas but that’s not authentic. You can’t pick and choose your own religion. Authenticity comes from knowing what you believe and why you believe it.”
Through his book, Fisk hopes to reach people who are “questioning and not finding answers ... who used to believe but aren’t sure anymore. The book is saying, ‘wait, we have the answers so don’t leave yet,” he said. “People go to church and don’t know why anymore. They wander and they don’t have answers that they seek. The book attempts to restore the fact that Christianity is about Jesus. First and foremost.”
While he hopes to appeal to everyone through his work, his target is 20- to 40-year-olds.
“I’m aiming for them because they’re the ones who are missing from our churches,” Fisk said. “They’re a significant minority percentage. Where did my generation go? I want to get them back, or at least keep the ones we have, from following the same path.”
Fisk said the book, which was released in December, is popular, at least within the church body.
“It’s gone to a third printing, which is good for being only two months out,” he said. “It’s surpassed our expectations within our walls.”