Welcome to Messy Spirituality

Welcome to Messy Spirituality July 6, 2020

Welcome to my brand new column here on Patheos. I’m really grateful to share this space with you.

A quick introduction might be in order.

I am Brandi’s grateful husband, the proud dad of four awesome kids, and a former professional wrestler, radio broadcaster, missionary, and pastor. I’m currently writing my first book and hosting The Messy Spirituality Podcast.

The phrase “Messy Spirituality” is an homage to one of my spiritual heroes, Mike Yaconelli, who wrote a book by that name that deeply influenced my spiritual evolution.

While I served in local church ministry for more than twenty years, at this point in my life I’m not what most people would consider a “real” pastor.

I no longer have a congregation to speak of.

I have no desire to manage the faith or spirituality of anyone else. I trust the Holy Spirit to do that.

I have no desire to “grow a church” or oversee countless programs or committees. Real discipleship doesn’t happen in a classroom.

I have no desire to “defend the faith” or fight a culture war that separates us from neighbors we are meant to love.

I believe that Jesus is the Word of God and He didn’t write a book. The book we have, while certainly unique, was gathered and accumulated over centuries as documented by human beings. As Dr. Peter Enns puts it, God lets His (often confused) children tell the story. I don’t believe the Bible to be a rule book or manual for human existence, but an invitation to know God for ourselves as we encounter the Divine in prayer, creation, and within our neighbors.

I believe in love. I believe that God is love and nothing else. I believe that every single one of us comes from love, was made for love, and that we are all going to love once this life is over. Love is my religion.

I no longer see the church as a building or even an organization. It’s a family. And God’s family seems to be as dysfunctional as most other families.

At its best, Christianity is a community where hungry people, from all walks of life, can find a seat with their name on it at Jesus’ table-a table where every hungry person is welcome and every hungry person belongs. Around His table, we encounter Jesus, His Gospel, and His love. We hear His call to love and serve our neighbors, the poorest among us, and even our enemies. We’re all on a journey from fear to faith as we learn to embrace the love that purges us of our pain and insecurities and leads us into the light of Christ.

So I don’t care if you’re black, Latino, Asian, Native American, or white. I don’t care what religious or denominational label you wear. I don’t care if you’re male, female, trans, or undeclared. I don’t care if you’re gay or straight.

To me, the only question is, “Are you hungry?”

If you are, there will always be a seat for you at this table.

Please take a moment to introduce yourself in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

About Jason Elam
Jason Elam is Brandi’s grateful husband, proud dad of 4 awesome kids, a former professional wrestler and radio broadcaster, and former local church pastor for over 20 years. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “From Ashes We Rise” and hosts The Messy Spirituality Podcast. You can connect with Jason on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Patreon. You can read more about the author here.

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4 responses to “Welcome to Messy Spirituality”

  1. Howdy Jace; Its Steev, a retired urban missionary. My last place of service was one of the missions in downtown Seattle, i became their lead-cook for a short time before being admitted into the local Lutheran group home, named the Compass Cntr, and from there being admitted into the Falcon Ridge assisted living – a small miracle that was decades overdue! Prior to that i had served a short time, twice, with the Jesus People USA, in Uptown Chicago.

    I’d had an accident in the summer of ’80 that broke both my legs among several other injuries – two of them internal, but God was merciful saving my life through first-responders’ fast action.

  2. Hi, Steev! Thanks for reading and for telling us a little about yourself in your response. It certainly sounds like you’ve had a fascinating ministry and have been through a lot! I’m glad you’ve ended up in a good place and pray that you continue to do well.

    What was it like working with Jesus People USA? I’d love to hear more about that!

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