Several years ago, I went through what most people call a deconstruction of some of my religious beliefs. It started as moving from a fundamentalist, evangelical system to a more Christ-like, less retributive view of God. I first compared my beliefs about God to my experience as a parent. I wrote a book called Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart. It became a journal of my journey through deconstruction, and I was pleased to share that part of my heart with the world.
I discovered that when I changed my beliefs it made some people uncomfortable, and it felt like I was wandering out into the desert. I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want to lose a bunch of friends but separating from systems and people made it feel like I was leaving everything behind. I couldn’t really be a preacher or traditional pastor
anymore, but I was determined to find some community out here in the wilderness.
To my surprise, there were more people than I would have imagined, and through our website and Facebook communities, we were able to connect with others and walk together through this time.
So, why would I write this book? As I began to examine my beliefs, Laura and I continued to go to church. Little by little, even in a couple of good churches, we began to feel increasingly out of place. Eventually, we stopped going to church and began to think through why we no longer wanted to go.
I want to examine two things in this book. First, I want to see if it is possible to survive, or even thrive, outside of organizational religion. People have told me that it is, but I want to know for myself. We experienced a fair amount of pain in church, and we aren’t anxious to go back, even though people have encouraged us to return. People have also welcomed us out into the desert. I was warned that I would lose my faith, but I felt like I was drowning anyway, so I wanted to find out if it’s possible to thrive here.
The second thing I want to examine is what needs to change about the church. Most of the issues I found on the outside looking in were obscured when I was inside the church. It makes sense now, but I couldn’t see it on the inside, especially when I was employed by a church. I have chosen to interweave these two things, and just imagine
and examine them as they come to me. That means that there may be some overlap and I may even change my mind later in this manuscript.
I invite you to come along on this journey with me. Like many of my most respected friends, I am thankful for some of the things the church as an organization has given me, but it needs to be reimagined as we move swiftly into the future. It doesn’t need to be like it was and it doesn’t have to stay like it is. Change is hard, but change is often
necessary. Let us examine it together!
Laura has agreed to help me in this process. She is a good writer, but she only writes when she feels inspired. Her input is vital to this journey because her voice was held in check by the systems that we were in. Her voice is particularly important as we journey forward.
Come along with us—we look forward to hearing your voice one day.