BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon resident Dr Justin Bowers is well known in the community by some for starting New Community Church and as the new business teacher at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. ‘
Others may know him from his role as head of Appalachian Impact, a nonprofit that works to give hope to at-risk students in the region. And this month, Bowers announced another milestone: the release of his first book, “Wonky: A Survival Guide for Following Jesus When You Hate the Church.” Bowers is hosting a book launch party at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, November 22, and you can sign up or find out more here.
Bowers said he hopes his book will reach a wide audience.
âI think the book will connect with those who have left the Church and with those who are about to leave the Church,â Bowers said. “I hope it’s appealing because it’s honest, the stories are raw and true, and not sugar coated at all.”
He said he also thinks it can help people who are still tied to the evangelical church, but who also feel that some things need to change and adapt. Bowers said he wrote “Wonky” after reading an article about Gene Wilder, who played Willy Wonka in the original 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.
âWilder spoke of his first entry in the film, when he comes out of the chocolate factory like some sort of frail elderly man on a cane, staggering towards the children who had won the competition to join him on a tour of his factory. Bowers shared. âAs he approaches, he plants his cane in the sidewalk, begins to fall forward and at the last possible second, folds up, rolls over and comes back to his feet full of life and joy. [Wilder] said he added this part to the script because he wanted the movie audiences to never know if they could trust him completely or not.
As a pastor of churches for two decades, Bowers said as he read this story, his first thought was “this is exactly how so many friends I know feel.” They want to know more about how to follow Jesus, but they are not sure they can trust the Church as an institution. ‘
He said he started writing with that thought in mind.
âI found myself turning chapter after chapter on how to survive by following Jesus when you hate the Church,â Bowers said. âI know it’s a strong language, but I hear it every week. I experienced it myself. âThe Churchâ can be a painful place; we are often so critical, hypocritical and just plain broken. But what I continue to discover is that the Church can also be incredibly beautiful and life-giving and do all kinds of good.
Bowers said his book “Wonky” came out of it all.
“It really is a confessional – naming the faults and failures of the Church as an institution and offering paths forward: innovation, re-imagining, and ultimately the feeling that Jesus is still worth it.” , Bowers said.
He also shared that while working on “Wonky” he used writing as a learning process.
âI have discovered – probably more than anything else – that this topic of injury and trauma in church is felt so strongly by so many people,â he said. âAs I wrote down and shared these ideas, it was as if everyone I had spoken to had a story to tell, something to share. And that has been a great gift: hearing the stories of others.
Bowers said he realized that personally he was also very guilty.
âAlong the way, I’ve caused injuries, created injuries and been part of the problem,â he said. âIn many ways the book is a bit like my own apology and tries to correct some things. “
He said he was incredibly excited and nervous about releasing “Wonky” into the world.
âI hope this is a gift, a help and a call to imagination and innovation for those who still have hope,â Bowers said.
Released on November 18, “Wonky” is available for purchase through the local online bookstore, Gaslight Books, and on Amazon in paperback or Kindle format. He said he would donate copies of “Wonky” to local libraries.
Bowers and his wife, Carrie, grew up in Buckhanon and moved in 2012 to found New Community Church, where he still serves as a pastor. They are parents of four daughters. He was also one of the first Community in Schools facilitators in schools in Upshur County, working with students and their families at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.
Learn more about https://www.better-stories.com/wonky-book.