When you think of Jesus, who do you think of? What about the words Church or Christianity?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve met Christians who are ugly, hateful people. You’ve been burned by people who claim to follow Jesus.
But I bet you’ve also met some incredibly kind, thoughtful and generous people who call themselves Christians, too.
Here’s the story of how I learned to love the Church (and why I blog about pop culture):
I was born into the Church. I’ve been a part of the Church my whole life. My best and worst moments have happened in the Church. The best and worst people I’ve ever met have been Church people.
I always wondered how something could be so beautiful and so awful at the same time.
For a while (college and grad school, mostly), I thought of myself as a not-caped crusader, living on the fringes of the Church, rescuing people from bad theology
But I began to realize I wasn’t actually any different from the people I hated. I have the capacity to be kind and generous and thoughtful, but I can also be a truly ugly person.
That’s when I figured out what grace is. None of us is perfect. We all have stories. And God is weaving all our stories into something bigger and better.
These days, I don’t see myself as an outsider saving people from the mess of the Church. The Church is definitely a mess, but I’m right in the middle of that mess.
I inherited a lot of it. But I help make it, too. And it’s not going to get better until we all start working together to figure out what it looks like to follow Jesus in the 21st century.
The best way to change is by learning a better story. The best way to change people is by telling them a better story.
So that’s what I do. I learn stories. I critique stories. And I’m always trying to tell a better story that what we’ve all heard.
But this is a whole different world than there’s ever been. We’re more connected, we move faster, and the pace of change is always accelerating.
Stories are all around us. And God’s somewhere in all of them.
I’d always consumed a lot of media: I read a lot of books and watch tons of movies. Now I’m learning to see the traces of redemption woven through the fabric of even the most unlikely stories.
Here on my blog, I write about all sorts of stories – biblical stories, movies, books, comics – and highlight the truth or engage the ugliness I find in them.
I also share the talks I give at my church. You can subscribe to my podcast here.
We ought to be learning something from every story we hear.
Right now, my wife Amanda and I live in Dayton, OH. She runs the Bridge Café, which serves the students at Wright State University.
I’m the teaching pastor at Beavercreek Church of the Nazarene. That means I get to lead our congregation in understanding the huge story of redemption God has been telling throughout human history. The story that culminated in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The story that all our stories are being woven into.