A Bittersweet Farewell to Off The Map

The main reason I began blogging was that, more than five years ago, a Christian named Jim Henderson “bought my soul on eBay.” He asked me to visit a number of churches and write about my experiences on his ministry’s website.

That ministry was called Off The Map — unofficial slogan: “Helping Christians be normal” — and they’re finally calling it quits:

We wanted a conference that was sponsored by followers of Jesus that was also an event where non-believers were heard, valued and included. We wanted a place (even a temporary one) where differences weren’t ignored, controlled or demonized, but instead were enjoyed and anticipated.

One of the things we’d tell people at the start of each conference was “we’ve intentionally designed this event so that everyone in this room will be offended at least once — if we fail to do that we’ve failed to go Off The Map.”

For the past two years I’ve been reflecting on the future of Off The Map. After consulting with our board and key volunteers, it appears to us that Jesus is happy with us having evolved Off The Map out of business.

Yeah, it’s a Christian ministry, but as far as those go, this wasn’t the worst of them.

Jim’s working on a number of new projects, including a new book called The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church’s Backbone? The book (and several live stage shows) will feature conversations about how the Christian church treats women and what the women have to say about it.

Even if Jim’s not working directly with atheists anymore, he’s still forcing the church to bear witness to a lot of conversations they’re not used to having — conversations that are sure to make a lot of Christians uncomfortable — and we’re all better off when that happens.

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  • To Mr. Henderson I say good luck on your future en devours sir.

  • Secret Agent Woman

    The project on the treatment of women within the church sounds like an interesting one.  One of the biggest disgraces of most organized religions is their treatment of women, ranging from marginalization to outright abuse.  It was one of the primary reasons I left – I realized the the father/son/holy spirit trilogy held no place for half of us.

    (BTW, I recently bought your eBay book and am about half way through it.)

  • Sounds like a decent guy who’s trying to make a difference.

  • Ratsonjulia

    “Yeah, it’s a Christian ministry, but as far as those go, this wasn’t the worst of them.”
    That’s–a little back-handed, but whatever–you’re still young, and learning. (Never forget that, please.)

    I wish him and his congregation all the best  in whatever they undertake next.

  • I will say that it is a great (really well-phrased) book title:  The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church’s Backbone?

  • Eliza

    I found out about you and Jim at the same time, and OTM was formative for me becoming a more vocal atheist.  (Maybe not quite what Jim had in mind, but hopefully I’m helping his people think more critically about what they’re doing, and why.)

  • Anonymous

    thanks wctube