Let me get back to some of my faith journey–for those who are still tracking with my randomness. If you recall, on Tuesdays I’m posting notes about the odd belief path I took to “get where I am” — which sounds like I arrived somewhere, which is not the case. Instead, I feel like I “left somewhere and I’m still on the way.”
More on where I “left” today.
During my freshman year of college, a bunch of my dorm buddies and I started to hang out late at night and talk about our lives. It’s the kind of thing one might do at a state school while being heavily lubricated. Instead, since we were at a small Christian Uni–we just had Mountain Dew to grease the wheels.
In this group I came upon the realization that most guys my age pretty much hated church and had been repeatedly disappointed by the faith of their parents. In fact, I felt like I was the one that had the most positive experiences in my home and my church. This surprised me a lot. It turned out that I was a part of a generation that found the faith of their forebears to be disenchanting, disappointing and at times practiced disingenuously.
Disenchanting – They felt like they had high hopes for the church and for God in their lives at one time–but over time they were disenchanted by this notion. Faith had lost it’s magic: Church had no mystery and even the mystique of a Savior had lost it’s savor for them. They, and I, were looking for something mystical, but all they found is something practical.
Disappointing – They felt like their parents had let them down. Most had lived through a divorce of their parents. More than half had absent fathers or “Dads” they never knew. Some couldn’t even talk about their parents without great pain showing up all over their faces. This may sound like whining–but I began to see that there was a whole generation whose parents were no longer the rock on which faith could be built.
Disingenuous – What’s worse than the above, this crew expressed that the faith of their hometown churches, the faith of their parents and teachers and neighbors and even their pastors, seemed very disingenuous. “Fake” was the first word that described the worship we saw. In our churches, imitation seemed the trend; innovation seemed the enemy. We were looking for something “real.”
When I was just 19 I thought I had found it. It’s true that my faith wasn’t strong–I wasn’t sure what I believed in–but I felt that the Church had to do something about the disenchanting, disappointing & disingenuous faith practices that were turning my generation away from Church. In this season I found a college ministry called “Chi-Alpha” that felt like the first “real deal” I had ever seen.
This ministry had the benefit of being by, for and about college students (with all the advantages and disadvantages of such). At the time I had the sense that it was “relevant.” Yes, that’s a moving target, and I’m not saying that is the be-all-end-all of Church life. However–it just seemed fresh and on target in many ways: the music, the message, the community service, the groups, the leaders: it was clicking. It also seemed to be a place where you could be “seeking” without being “found” entirely. I made it my spiritual home.
Over time I would begin to love this community so much that I gave the better part of my week to it–all volunteer. And I was not alone in that. A new community of sold-out volunteer leaders were stepping up and doing life together, while building something that seemed great. And the genius was everyone was “on their way” spiritually. People used the term “seeker” a lot, I noticed (only later did I figure out that it was a part of a bigger movement that term signified). The only problem was: it was still relatively small. I wanted to change that.
More on that later.