Faith for Exiles (Part 1)

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Have you ever had a moment when you were attending a conference, reading a book or a blog post, or even watching the latest Netflix documentary, and had what can only be described as an epiphany?

About seven years ago, I had one of these moments!

At the encouragement of a great friend I knew from seminary who is also a church planter, I jumped in my car and drove up to Washington DC to attend an event called You Lost Me Live. An author named David Kinamman had just written a followup book to his very popular unChristian book; which had been released a couple years prior. The name of the new book? You Lost Me. And David was on a tour promoting the new book to begin a conversation about why young Christians are leaving the church and rethinking faith.

The event was amazing! Both David and Mark Batterson (the pastor of the host church) spoke to a small crowd for a couple days and, in the meantime, we got to do some sightseeing in our nation’s capital; which never gets old to me! As David, Mark, and other presenters spoke, I remember taking notes until my hand fell off! It was incredible.

The funny thing is that I had not even read the book before the event, but, fortunately, everyone who attended received a copy. When I returned home to the south, I started reading right away and came to a chapter in the book about Exiles; in which David uses the language of exile from the experience of the Israelites in the Old Testament. He applies this experience to many of us in the church today. Essentially, David says that there are a number of young people who are in the church, but feel like they do not belong. They are exiles.

And in that moment, David gave perfect language to what I was feeling.

This was the epiphany: I was an exile. Despite an ever deepening faith in Jesus and a hunger for the Kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven, I felt like I didn’t belong in the local church. I was a stranger in a strange land…and lots of the folks around me felt like I was a stranger. They were always wondering why I had to be so strange and would much prefer I just get with the system…the status quo.

So naturally, when I heard that David was releasing a new book (Faith for Exiles) and I had the opportunity to be a part of the launch team, I jumped at it. I have read the new book thoroughly and am excited to share some of what I think we can all learn from his latest project!

First of all, David has an incredible understanding of the current culture, especially the white, middle-class, suburban culture. He states that “many of us today turn to our devices to make sense of the world.” I actually have a real-life example of this concept…

Several years ago, I was officiating a wedding for a good friend. As is often the case, there was a little spat between a couple of the bridesmaids before, during, and after the ceremony. I remember sitting next to one of the bothered bridesmaids at the reception and I picked up her Blackberry (which should give you an idea as to just how long ago this occurred). I noticed that her browser was open to Google. And what had she googled?

“How to make the best of a bad situation.”

Think about it…

Here sits a well educated, intelligent, and socially well adjusted young woman, surrounded by her closest friends, but yet she chooses to turn to a handheld computer and strangers on the internet for advice on what to do in her current situation.

This is the norm today. We turn to Google first. It’s easy. It’s quick. It does not require us to be vulnerable with another human. It allows us to hide while we put on a front to convince everyone that we’re just fine.

So what does this have to do with faith?

(Stay tuned for the second part of my review of Faith for Exiles in next week’s post!)

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