What if upside-down is the right way forward?
Christine Chandler Prater wants to help shift the conversation around Jesus. So much of evangelical Christianity, in America especially, has become entwined with cultural and political themes that Jesus himself gets lost in the mix. How can believers sift through the myriad voices that sometimes yell what we’re supposed to do or believe or say, to discover what Jesus really thinks? How can unbelievers who might want to know more about Jesus understand what’s really him versus what’s just noise?
If you fall into either category, The Holy Shift is for you. Christine—a real estate agent by day, a seminary student by night, and a poet whenever the inspiration strikes—has created a community of “creatives, conversationalists, and community-builders” who recognize the disconnect between Jesus’s way and current evangelical trends—and who want the real Jesus. But moving from evangelical chatter to the gospel sometimes requires what she calls a “holy shift.”
Since Christine is my friend, I was able to convince her to answer a few questions.
- What is The Holy Shift all about?
Depression, anxiety, and loneliness are skyrocketing. Fear fills our news, feeds our angst, and fuels our fury. Division is dominating our conversations and destroying our relationships. Everything seems to be crumbling around us, but I believe all this chaos is our calling to something more. I believe that there could be a shift; a holy shift.
I believe that part of the reason that life feels so upside down is because our understanding of who God is and how we change the world is inverted, so I wanted to help shift the perspective on who he is, what he taught, and why it matters. It is so easy to imagine that the answers to the most important questions can be found within ourselves, our politics, or our ideals. But I think they are actually found in what is sometimes referred to as “The Upside-Down Kingdom of God,” and I want to explore that “upside-down” as the right way forward for the world.
- Why did you found The Holy Shift?
I founded The Holy Shift out of a weariness of division and hypocrisy and a passion for welcoming everyone to the table to encounter the real Jesus. I am deeply burdened by the division and desperation I see in the world. I am also grieved by the ways I believe God is being mischaracterized and misrepresented, both inside and outside of the church. I started this ministry not because I think I have my theology perfect but because I am compelled to a truer understanding of God and a deeper intimacy with him. I am constantly having to shift the way I understand and pursue him, and in a way, this ministry is my invitation for others to join me in that faith exploration. Because as N.T. Wright so aptly reminds us, “If Christians don’t get Jesus right, what chance is there that other people will bother with him?”
- What do you want readers/viewers and now listeners to learn or experience from The Holy Shift?
More than anything, I yearn to cultivate an ethos that encourages us all to be curious, dig deep, and be surprised by God. I am hopeful that by offering a safe place to ask tough questions and wrestle with the challenging and paradoxical tenets of the Christian faith, I can help folks experience the real Jesus and live in a way that reflects his character. I strive to spark hope through creativity, foster unity by breaking down relational barriers that prevent us from loving others well, and learn from community-builders and other fascinating folks who are partnering with God in advancing his kingdom. Lastly, I want to welcome folks from all backgrounds—especially those who don’t think they fit in more conventional Christian circles—to serve together in community.
- What motivates you every day?
I believe that if God is really GOD, it’s worth seeking the truth of who he is and how he purposed us to live in this world. Certainly what I’ve experienced of him so far has convinced me that he is worthy of both my passion and priority.
- Who is Christine Chandler Prater?
I’m a poet, songwriter, and theology geek who loves to explore the challenging truths of the upside-down kingdom of God through art, story, and humor. My passion for welcoming everyone to the table to experience Jesus fuels my advocacy for the forsaken and forgotten and drives my studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (I just completed the Master of Biblical and Theological Studies program and am working toward my Masters of Arts in Media and Worship). My work has been featured in a variety of magazines and collections.
I live near Austin, Texas with my hunky hubby and two fur-babies (one sinner, one saint). I’m an awkward conversations enthusiast and love anything that takes place outdoors—or requires words.
In addition to her beautiful Instagram account, Christine offers a weekly newsletter. Her most exciting new development—the first Holy Shift Podcast episode drops today! So, if listening is more your thing than reading or social media, hop onto your favorite podcast platform and bookmark/favorite The Holy Shift.