Growing Together: Paul Munguia
I began attending Forefront in August of 2018. At the time, my mental state was all but well. I felt a heavy mix of shame, avoidance, stress, frustration, hope, confusion, and hurt.
Three major life events were eating at me and I was spread thin.
I had recently left a church where I became significantly involved. It was a place that at first felt wildly inclusive, but eventually put a price tag on that inclusivity. I was overcommitted and their mission ultimately did not align with mine or my view of Jesus.
A month before, I had abruptly left my girlfriend. I was living according to a very binary version of Christianity and I started to believe that my partner wasn’t who God intended for me. That period involved a bender and ended with a family vacation where I laid in bed for 3-days watching bible related videos, praying, crying, and refusing to eat.
My work environment had become a normalized level of stress that most people only experience acutely. Our company was growing and we were inexperienced entrepreneurs who were not ready to sustain the growth.
So walking into Forefront, I wasn’t looking for a savior. I didn’t even want community again. In hindsight my drive to be there was radical. I was seeking truth, entirety, and the root of it all.
A lot of my roads convened at Forefront, and the raw inputs I brought were sorted and given more meaning as I continued to come week after week. The Jesus I knew in my heart was described in the real stories of real people within the church. My partner and I eventually found resolution and she felt comfortable in a church for the first time at Forefront.
Our church is an unassuming human representation of Christ that allows me to see more clearly the intention of our creator. A couple of main themes have rooted in me over the last 10-months that allow me to live a more connected life:
The Gospel is rooted in logic, not in morality. For years I tried to check boxes and act like a good person. Forefront has exemplified the idea that morality is not the center of Christianity but rather the result of the good news of the gospel. When I failed, shame resulted. When shame resulted I turned to things that made me temporarily forget that shame. Those decisions only brought on more shame. Even when I was successful at checking the moral boxes for a period of time, I see still felt empty. I sometimes felt even worse - like a fraud. My motivation to act morally came from a place of social acceptance, For most of my life, I was trying to follow directions or emulate the good works of good people. When I truly understand the “why” that comes from the good news of the gospel, good acts will naturally follow.
Everyone can break. We all feel broken periodically, if not more often. I can usually trace back my shame, discontent, anger, grief - I can tag it to a decision I made, a truth I withheld, or an environment I subjected myself to. Further, I can trace that decision, lie, or environment back to another inflection point that served no purpose in my life. It leads to confusion, shame, and analysis paralysis that again doesn’t serve my life and takes me away from serving others. We can all break and will. Many of us are currently broken. We probably know the direct source, but it’s futile to negatively obsess on it. In Christ we are forgiven. I’m constantly reminded of that in our Forefront community.
As I continue to detangle my life and remember these things, I’m developing a more actionable perspective. I want more people to know that living according to God’s design doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the things we love. It means we get to shed the deadweight we’ve accumulated over the years of believing in a moral and fundamental Christianity. Instead, I get to focus more on what brings my life meaning.
I think Forefront has brought out my passion for subversive evangelism. The kind that will organically pervade society as I live more accordingly, openly, and progressively. Even my professional work now reflects this. My partners and I co-build companies to solve real problems, and my individual guidance comes from the one source that never fails to result in success. I’m thankful to Forefront for that reminder.