Following Jesus

Following Jesus September 4, 2013

“So like, how much longer do we have?” I asked Andrew, in my best stoner-esque voice possible…

He was cordial enough to give me a courtesy laugh…

We had been driving for maybe 10 minutes at most, not yet even outside of Orange County, on our 9 hour journey up north.

We started off talking about our mornings, the weather, and then it somehow, as it always does, ended up being about theology, church, and of course predestination, which annoyingly, always seems to wiggle its way in to our conversations.

You see, a few months before I quit on the Church – or at least – so I had thought.

It wasn’t just some knee jerk over emotionalized decision. This was a thought out decision that took a couple of years. I prayed, I sought out wise council, I spoke about it with my pastors, friends, and family…

In the end I knew what I needed to do and which way I needed to go, the answer was clear to me. But there was some who still didn’t see it as clearly as I – there were some who still disagreed with my choice. Andrew happened to be one of them.

He spoke slowly, carefully choosing each word he said…

“I can only speak for myself – when I see the flaws like hypocrisy, people missing the point, etc… it would take a lot for me personally to leave because I’ve seen the institution do so many good things. I can understand walking away from a specific church, but not the institution.”

I paused and thought, still surprised with Andrew’s disagreement and asked, “So do you think that it’s outside of God to ask someone to do what I did?”

Andrew quickly responded, “No… that’s a good question… I haven’t really thought of it in that way… but you might be an exception to the rule”

When I hear, exception to the rule. I hear, I’m just trying to be nice, and avoid any further damage that our disagreement may have already caused. Knowing Andrew, I don’t think that’s what he meant, but I was honestly shocked, because Andrew had the same exact issues with the Church as I did. We’re around the same age. Both on staff in large, young evangelical communities, in the same county. The difference was Andrew decided to stay at his Church, while I decided to leave.

I quietly sat in the car processing his words, asking if the institutional church, the traditions we currently follow, the programmatic rundown, if that was actually Church? Wondering, can we find this model in scripture? I thought about all the good things the institutional church has done, which made me ask…

How do we even measure good and bad? How do we determine if one out weighs the other? If good does out weigh the bad, then why not join other religious traditions such as a Buddhism, Islam, or Mormonism, that is, if we are basing our critique of the church off of what is “good”?

Then I thought about all of the bad things, the church has done, the oppression, the wars, the lives lost… Does this stuff out weigh the good stuff we’ve done? Even if it does, does it excuse or come close to even dismissing the bad?

I think Andrew was right.

I think that both of us were right.

The church is doing good. Yes there are faults. No it’s not perfect.

But in the end we both agreed, there must be change…

This is about where things started to get interesting. Little did I know this was the beginning of a new season, a new adventure, an amazing friendship, and long journey ahead for the both of us…

(This is an excerpt out of my upcoming book I’m coauthoring with Andrew Steven, adapted for this blog – If you’d like updates on the books release, and to be put on my weekly email list subscribe below!)

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  • John

    Hey Andy, great stuff man. I literally started reading some of your stuff because you liked a photo of mine on Instagram. I agree with you. I have not walked away from the institutional evangelical church…yet. I’m still prayerfully considering everything going on and my position. So I’d even ask for advice, for what to pray on, or even HOW to pray for a life change. Grace to ya man. Pursue Jesus first, and everything else will come in turn.