There has been a lot of talk about deconstructing faith in Christian circles over the last few years. So I will be late to the party for sure, but have some thoughts nonetheless. The whole concept has taken on some fairly negative connotations. I would say this comes from people that don’t know what it means to deconstruct your faith and that you can do so in a completely positive way. There is a trend amongst established leaders to create elements of fear around the possibility of asking questions and giving push back. I have heard for years “that’s not what we believe” or “as long as you don’t preach that happy, Jesus makes things better stuff.” Let’s be honest, have you ever tried to argue with a Reformer? It’s fairly exhausting to live in these environments. These environments are the walls we build around our Christianity. They are filled with opinion, fear, shame and what ever else doesn’t belong around our hearts.
In a recent survey I conducted for my thesis project, I learned some of the behaviours of young leaders that have either left a church position or left a denomination for another.
In a combination of Generation Xers and Millennials that took the survey, 2/3 identified that they have gone through some sort of a process of deconstructing their spirituality. Of those who did so, 66% reported that their relationship with Jesus improved while the other 33% mentioned that there was no change in their relationship in either a positive or negative way.
Some confuse deconstructing with “falling away” or “back sliding.” I’m not fully sure what the markers are on those terms, but this is neither of them.
The process of deconstructing is about getting rid of the man made restraints and patterns of religion and finding something more pure and ancient.
It takes times of conscious pursuit of truth or hitting a wall of perceived truth to know that it is time to evaluate what we believe and why. We don’t all have the ability to strip down our spirituality and know that we will find Jesus under all the rubble, but it’s worth trying.
Over the last few years a lot has been said on the topic, and guys like the Bad Christian Podcast have taken up the cause. You may like their language and ideas or not, but these guys hit a wall of religion and had to figure out what was underneath. They did this publicly and it has given some courage to good friends of mine to do the same.
Others like theologian Greg Boyd have discussed in podcast form their thoughts. Greg said that it’s time to deconstruct your faith when “it stops working.” That’s probably the point most of us hit and start to figure it out. He points to making sure that your faith is built on Christ as your foundation. I’m not sure I could agree more. He also mentioned that at least 5 times in his life he has deconstructed.
The more I weigh down my spirituality with church norms, cultural norms – Paul says this, Moses did that, the fundies love their trump and what would Francis Chan say… the more I know I need to come back to Jesus and simply whisper, get me out of this mess! If anyone can throw the dynamite to take down heavy walls, it’s Jesus. I believe in Jesus, his church and his power, I want the authenticity to come from there, not opinions and ideas cooked up for marketing and book sales. I am finding that my friends that have gone through this process are a lot less like Ned Flanders and more like Jesus all the time.
I say, deconstruct, find Jesus and life the life you were created to live. My number one tip on how to pull this off is really simple. Start reading the gospels. Just read the gospels. Don’t read anything else. Find Jesus again, then slowly start adding back Acts and if you’re brave some Paul and OT. But when you really find Jesus in the gospels, you will start to be able to find Him in the rest of scripture too. Care about His teachings, live His teachings, breathe His teachings. It might be the only way to make it to 90 for some of us.
If you thought this was good, interesting, or annoying… please share it with 5 friends. I will issue virtual high fives and gold stars for those that do. Each post for the next while I will be leaking some of the info from my thesis project. There are some stories and stats you do not want to miss.