Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Prelude to My Journey

It's not entirely uncommon to be raised in a family that attended church. My father was raised Roman Catholic, my mom Methodist. Whether it was for the two major Christian holidays, or the more frequent and pious weekly attendance, many “good” Americans have warmed a church pew. My parents became “reborn”, so my family was the latter. I was taught the stories of Moses and Jesus and the Apostles, I was baptized, and was very active in functions and ministries. But I was one of the “troublemakers”--I wasn't content with the status quo, often obstinately going against the grain. Not much of what was taught in church sunk in. Some did. This is not unusual for kids raised in church though. It all becomes trite.

After a decade, my family left that church. I was seventeen. Still impressionable—unsettled, seeking, rebellious. My parents began to attend a larger evangelical church: a Calvary Chapel. Soon I moved to Orlando for college, so I never settled into their new church. As most college students, I strayed. So, after I graduated and moved home, my parents implored me to go through a discipleship study; so I did. This helped me get back on track. Within a few months after graduating, I got a job at Calvary as their staff audio engineer. My year-and-half working there was sort of a prelude to my journey.

If a church is large enough to have a full time sound guy on staff, it's a fairly large church. Not long after I started we moved into our new three thousand seat sanctuary. We were the local megachurch, small in comparison to some, but a megachurch nonetheless. As is common with most churches of this nature and size, we had plethora of programs and ministries. Starting there at the naïve age of nineteen, there was much excitement and opportunity, but there were also many things that I witnessed and experienced that would have an irrevocable affect.

All too often, church leaders adapt business models and justify these practices with Scripture. Oh, have I seen it done! Between their ethos and the excessive events, a red flag popped up. Something seemed off. Something wasn't quite right. I was twenty years, working 60-80 hours a week. Burnt out. With no end in sight. And if you showed any weakness, or any doubt, then you weren't “working in the Spirit.” As good evangelicals we were to “run the race well”--all for Jesus. I don't want to get into all the details, because you can read probably hundreds of similar stories; however, I will say this: I began to notice that the church who claimed to be like the New Testament church...well, wasn't exhibiting any signs that it was like the church that was launched on Pentecost. I started to have a crisis of faith. We were spiritually proud to be the “best church in the area”. If this were the case, what of the other local churches? I was about ready to leave the church, but like so many twentysomethings who were active in church, I didn't want to walk away from Christ. I was at a crossroads. 

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