When most people find out that I’m a former pastor, they wrongly assume I have walked away from the faith. I chuckle to myself each time I politely explain that “former pastor” doesn’t always equate to “former Christian”. The truth is, while I am no longer on the payroll at a local church, I feel more in-tune with the teachings and example of Jesus than ever before. Sure, stepping away from employment with the Institutional Church ignited an enormous shift in my personal theology. But it hasn’t driven me from Christ, it’s actually caused me to sift through the excesses of man-made religious constructs and find what parts of the faith truly matter to me.
If you’re a Millennial like me, chances are pretty good that you’re doing some shifting and sifting of your own.
My friend Andreas says it like this:
Spiritual belonging is finding people who welcome you for who you are and encourage you to own your own spiritual journey, wherever it might take you. Finding people that appreciate being real and honest about life in general. I would encourage everyone to trust themselves and trust their heart.
My dear friend and fellow blogger, Sarah Robinson, added her own spin:
I’ve experienced both…the loneliness of being in either a really shiny and slick church, where it feels like people don’t let down their guard, and a church that lacks a theology of suffering, where there isn’t room for honest expressions of pain and doubt. The environments look really different, but the end result is the same – isolation and fear of honesty.
These days, I feel more consumed by the Love of God than ever. And while I’m truly not bitter at the church, I am setting boundaries with toxic people and theology. When it comes to Millennials and Church, many of us have accepted the invitation of people like Ed Bacon, Rachel Held Evans, and Brian McLaren, to stand up for a new kind of Christianity. I am turning my back on the House of Fear, and bursting through the doors of the House of Love with joy and gladness. No turning back, no turning back.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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