Your latest book Changing Faith addresses the subject of questions, doubts and skepticism that seem to be everywhere today. What prompted you to write on this?
I cannot count the number of conversations I have with people who have serious questions or are plagued with doubts about God and the Christian faith. The thing is, I have these conversations with people who love Jesus, love the Church and take Scripture seriously. What I have learned from them it that it is precisely because of their strong faith that they ask difficult questions and wrestle with their doubts. Changing Faith is a reflection on many of the conversations I have had with such people.
Do you think people in our world today are asking new questions? And if that’s the case, does Changing Faith seek to give new answers to those questions?
The answer to those questions is yes and no – in that order. First, the “yes.”
Yes, I believe people are asking new and different questions. From science to business to politics to religion, our world is different every day, which brings up new questions. But the catch is, many people seem suspicious of those who propose to give a firm answer to those questions – particularly pastors.
Which leads me to why I said, “No.” This is not a book about giving new answers. Answers often seek to dispense information, and in our world today there is no shortage of information. We can always find the answer we want. What we need now more than ever is direction and guidance as we see answers. We need to learn how to assess the information that bombards us. In Changing Faith I attempt to do just that. To offer direction, to make what’s blurry more clear – to give a compass rather than a roadmap.
What’s your hope for the person who reads Changing Faith? What do you want them to walk away knowing?
I want people to know that we need to voice our doubt, to ask the hard questions and to be honest about our skepticism. Doubt has been given a bad name. Think of how we speak of Jesus’ disciple, Thomas. We call him “Doubting Thomas” with a good measure of condescension. But let’s remember Thomas was not the only one who doubted.
Matthew remarks that others doubted too, and Luke wrote the disciples thought news of the resurrection was nonsense. Thomas, however, was the only one with the courage to talk about his doubt – to make it known. And what happened? Thomas encountered Jesus in a way no one else did.
Doubt can launch us forward in our conversations and deepen our faith. Remember, there is no question we can ask God that he cannot handle. When someone finishes Changing Faith I pray they will find their faith is not threatened by their questions, but strengthened through it.
What was the best part about writing Changing Faith?
I’d have to say going back through all the notes I had made over the last few years to remember the many conversations I had that gave me the idea for this book. Remembering those conversations made me laugh and cry. So many ideas, thoughts and insights in this book were given to me in these conversations. Each one of them is a gift.
Tell us more about you and your history/background.
I grew up in and around the Church. I tried to run from it, but as far away as I got, I was always drawn to the simple grace of Jesus. After college I met a pastor who was gracious, and always invited me to take my next step never demanding I take his next step. He helped reorient my faith and, in many ways, my life.
I threw myself headlong into Christian stuff. Seminary. Speaking. Working at a church. The whole bit. All the time believing questions, doubts and healthy doses of skepticism were good. But then I learned not everyone thought the same way.
As a result of asking too many questions coupled with my impatient, arrogant and impetuous attitude as a pastor in his mid-twenties I crashed and burned. I was fired from a church I helped to start, and my wife and I felt like we hit bottom (I write about this in my Changing Faith).
In that season I was reshaped again and again. More than that, I saw so many outside the church because I was finally outside the church too. My heart grew far more than I ever knew it could to simply help people take a next step in their faith. My hope in every conversation and interaction with everyone is that I will help them take a step – no matter how small – closer to the heart of the God who is love.
I backed into Church-work again, and eventually landed home in the great city of Denver. I now serve at the Lead Pastor of Denver Community Church. I wrote my first book in 2014 titled, Unlost: Being Found by the One We Are Looking For and just released my second book Changing Faith: Questions, Doubts & Choices About An Unchanging God.
My wife and I have lived in Denver eight years. We live downtown and have three magnificent, active, imaginative, hilarious, wonderful children.