Show of hands: How many of us are ready to leave Christianity?
Let me clarify: How many of us are ready to throw in the towel on the religion that raised us? How many of us are ready to give up the beliefs, actions, ideologies, and rhetoric that once seemed so constant, certain, and true?
If you raised your hand then you’re not alone.
In 2001 I was ready to quit Christianity too. I was done with “inside the box” thinking, which was the only way I could articulate it at the time. I didn’t know what I wanted. I just knew that I didn’t like the judgment of others. I didn’t like the defense of Biblical orthodoxies over actually loving people. I didn’t like the fact that my plain reading of scripture created a belief that God actually wants some people to feel oppression and marginalization. I didn’t like the people who called themselves Christians. It seemed that Christianity was simply a way to get to heaven and to stay out of the torment of hell. I didn’t like the fact that Christians constantly talked about the freedom of Christ and the good news of the Gospel, and yet I didn’t feel like it was good news at all. I certainly didn’t feel like I had freedom.
So there I was in my rented room, which was actually a converted attic, and I sat on my mattress and called my parents.
“I don’t think I’m a Christian anymore.”
My parents laughed their all-knowing laugh. My father responded, “You’re a Christian. You just don’t know it yet. I just read a book by this guy named Brian McLaren. It’s called A New Kind Of Christian. I’ll send it to you.” I waited a couple of days for the book. I wasn’t at all excited to read it. Christianity had nothing for me.
The book showed up. I walked from the mailbox back up the three flights of stairs to my attic. I opened the book and oddly enough, my life began to change.
There were thoughts like this one:
This is what matters to me!
My faith was restored. This is what I was looking for. I was on a new journey, a new path, new way of looking at Jesus, and yes, A New Kind of Christianity. It was there in the attic that I decided that I didn’t need to throw away my Christianity. I needed to redefine what it meant for me to be a Christ follower. My father was right. I was a Christian. It just took me a while to figure it out.
And now, 15 years later, our church is on a journey to reimagine what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus.
Frankly, there would be no Forefront without Brian McLaren. His writings are what moved me to read scripture with new eyes. It’s what led me to see Jesus in a new light. Brian McLaren’s encouragement is what led our church to embrace inclusivity and the never ending love of Jesus Christ. Brian McLaren has influenced our church profoundly.
It is my absolute honor to host Brian McLaren for our 2016 Faith, Culture, Questions series. I look forward to hearing his thoughts on the future of Christianity and the truly good news of the Gospel. I look forward to being challenged as to how our church can preach the true freedom that comes through the Gospel.
I hope that your lives are as profoundly influenced by Brian McLaren as mine was sitting in my converted attic 15 years ago.
Brian McLaren will be speaking during services at our Manhattan location, The Gramercy Theatre, on Sunday, November 6. Reserve your free tickets here. Brian's new book out this fall is The Great Spiritual Migration.