October 11, 2023

“Wait, what happened?” my eyes widened as the pastor shared details of the tragic death of a young man in our church. It was senseless, completely preventable, and tragic. His mom had been in the small group I was leading, so I felt like I should do something. But what could I, a 25 year-old seminary student with no kids, possibly say or do to comfort his grieving parents in the middle of an unspeakable tragedy? “Just show up,” an... Read more

September 25, 2023

Joyful people used to make me very skeptical. Toxic positivity had been common in the ministry spaces I occupied as a teenager and college students. I had equated joy with never permitting sadness or negativity, never acknowledging pain or struggle, and projecting a friendly face with a venomous bite. My heart was initially softened to joy by watching two joyful people (whom I had initially dismissed as “obviously fake”) walk through a series of difficult circumstances, name them as trying,... Read more

August 30, 2023

What do you think of when you hear the word “Sabbath?” If you’re like most people, your first thought is likely negative: Not required Impractical Not enough time Outside of regular Bible reading/study and prayer, you should observe a Sabbath because it is the most transformational discipline you can undertake. The problem Sabbaths sound great. But we’re just too busy to take a whole day off… right? An Atlantic article titled “The Myth that Americans Are Busier Than Ever” statistically... Read more

August 18, 2023

My wife and I were sitting in a local coffee shop this week getting some work done. I noticed a particularly boisterous man talking to what appeared to be a friend at a nearby table. I couldn’t hear everything, but I regularly heard him drop words like “evangelism” and “ministry.” Working in an evangelistic ministry, my curiosity was piqued. Soon, he noticed my hat. My hat had my alma mater’s logo on it. His son is playing football there this... Read more

July 30, 2023

The more John(*not his real name) shared the more I felt for him. Setting up a time to meet for lunch had been difficult. This one appointment had only happened after three previous requests had gone unanswered. Now, as he shared more about what his life had been like in the two months since we last spoke, I felt a swell of empathy for him. Sheepishly, he had just said, “So… I’m not sure what my involvement is going to... Read more

July 20, 2023

I work with college students in a campus ministry context. Several years back, I was curious about how my students defined spiritual growth. I set up a bunch of 1-on-1’s with student leaders to ask them two questions: 1)How do you define spiritual growth? 2)How do you know if you’re growing in your faith? What emerged were a lot of pregnant pauses as students considered, it seemed for the first time, to define this nebulous goal of spiritual growth that... Read more

July 13, 2023

I’ve been a Christian for 25 years. In total, I’ve had positive church experiences for about 7 of those. Like many, my experience has also included several instances of experiencing hurt from pastors, churches, and ministry leaders. Unfortunately, my story isn’t unique. Over the last few years stories of church hurt have filled the internet. It’s likely that if you’ve been involved in churches or ministry settings for long, you’ve been disappointed, maybe even downright hurt by a spiritual leader.... Read more

July 1, 2023

Decisions used to paralyze me. I would take forever to evaluate all the options before me. Even then, I would spend months going back over the decision. “What if I made the wrong choice?” was a constant fear. Evangelical Christians seem to be especially prone to the fear of making a wrong decision. We occupy spaces that talk a lot about remaining in God’s will, following God’s will, and the consequences of what happens if we don’t. Sometimes the choice... Read more

June 21, 2023

I came to faith in Jesus as a 14-year-old in a tradition that emphasized truth over feelings. “Feelings lie. Truth, as revealed in Scripture, is the only reliable, constant guide” was the refrain I heard repeatedly. If I felt it and it was objectively spoken against in Scripture then my feelings were wrong. Feeling God’s love was one of the main subjects of this point’s application. Since our feelings wax and wane based on a myriad of factors, we should... Read more

June 11, 2023

Deconstruction, spiritual abuse, spiritual trauma, and exvangelical are all terms that have entered into our vocabulary in the last few years. It seems that since 2020 the rate at which the stories of people who have walked away from faith have come more rapidly. In fact, rapid departure was already common prior to 2020. A 2021 Pew Research Study found 29% of Americans considered themselves to have no religious affiliation, up from 16% in 2007. At the same time, the... Read more

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