Kicking off Season 3, Matt and Brandy are back in the studio to talk about disillusionment with the Christian church.
We’ve all experienced it, haven’t we? That moment when you realize reality and faith don’t seem to be aligned. Where do you turn when that happens? What do you do? How in the world did you even get here?
This is the start of a multi-part series where we talk about some of the topics surrounding the issue of disillusionment and what to do when you have a crisis of faith. It’s a normal part of the Christian faith, but one that isn’t often talked about. So let’s break down some walls and start talking about hard things.
Because it’s been a while since Matt and Brandy have been in the studio together, the episode starts with some “housekeeping.” Information on what to expect this season abounds. Hint: things are going to look a little different.
We also spend a minute sharing a very special message from a listener as well as thanking the people who have been faithfully financially supporting the show.
If you want to skip all that good stuff and just want to get right into the topic, you’ll have to jump to about the 17-minute mark. But all that other stuff is good, so you shouldn’t skip.
Email us your own stories of disillusionment. Be sure to let us know if you want to stay anonymous. You can also send us your comments, thoughts, prayer requests, show ideas, etc.
Steve Austin was in the throes of serving as a pastor when he found himself in the darkest place he’d ever been. Two hours from home, isolated and depressed, traumatized by a past he hadn’t faced, he made the choice to end his life.
Last week, the world suffered yet another tragic loss when Pastor Jarrid Wilson, from Harvest Church and co-founder of Anthem of Hope, “a Christian mental health organization dedicated to amplifying hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide,” ended his own life by suicide.
The fact is, depression and suicide are not uncommon to man, even if we are followers of Christ.
What is uncommon, is our lack of willingness to talk about this very difficult subject in honest and vulnerable ways. But if we hope to be a beacon of light to a hurt and broken world, then we must acknowledge our own hurt and brokenness.
This week, I had the honor of sitting down with Steve Austin, who fortunately survived his attempt to end his suffering through suicide. Instead, he woke up in the ICU and eventually found restoration and healing that continues to this day. In a raw and honest conversation, Steve shares his journey from “the pulpit to the psych ward.”
Join us as we talk about hard things. Then share the conversation with someone you know who is also struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. Share it with someone who’s not. Just share it. We can only overcome the darkness when we’re willing to shed some light on it. That starts here. That starts with you.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call: National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
To learn more about Steve or to access any of his free resources,
including his free book, check out his website catchingyourbreath.com
Consider walking in or sponsoring someone walking in the Out of the Darkness walks, raising money and awareness about suicide and the prevention thereof American Foundations for Suicide Awareness (I’m walking in our local walk and have a page HERE if you’d like to contribute!)
Finally, please reach out to us if you are hurting and don’t know where to turn. We will help find you resources as best we can. You can EMAIL US anytime. We’d love to pray for and with you.
Every day, Christians around the world die because of their belief in Jesus Christ. More suffer torment, abuse, rape, imprisonment, and persecution of all kinds. Men, women, and children. No one is immune. Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.”
Tune in to this final installment of our summer series and hear what you can do to come alongside those who are being persecuted and how to prepare for the persecution you may also suffer. Even in the darkest night, we have hope in Jesus Christ who saves.
Find stories of those who have suffered for their faith at these sites below. You can also find ways to contact via letters those who are imprisoned, in an effort to encourage and strengthen their hearts and minds. There are also petitions to sign and places to donate financially so that those imprisoned will have access to legal counsel.
Please read these stories and see how you can help today!
As we enter into another Presidential Election, it seemed only fitting to review our approach to politics and people as followers of Christ.
Listen to the FULL EPISODE and a SUMMER ANNOUNCEMENTHERE
I’d also like to invite you to watch a sermon presented by our pastor, Gregg Chastain at Community Church of Sandy in Sandy, Oregon. We have recently started a series on the book of Daniel. It comes at a perfect time, as we as Christians find ourselves increasingly being marginalized and asked to conform to the world.
The life of a minister is hard. It’s a whole lot of work, most of which is on-call, and not a lot of personal glory. It’s often a thankless career but a fulfilling calling. But what about the life of a minister’s wife?
We get a look behind the curtain this week as Brandy sits down with Dottie Thorson, retired school teacher, and Pastor’s wife. Dottie shares the journey she and her husband took as they worked together to build a life of service, dedicated to sharing God’s love and grace with everyone along the way.
“…be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit,
intent on one purpose.”
– Philippians 2:2
It’s never easy, is it, coming to others to ask for help?
What will they think if they know my need is this great? Will their opinion change once they know just how dark my heart and thoughts can be? Or, will they think I’m silly; wasting their time with my needs which seem so insignificant?
I’ve had these thoughts on more than one occasion. Yet, at every turn I am amazed by the response I’m met with when I take a deep breath and share my heart.
Sometimes it’s a prayer need, sometimes a thought I’ve been mulling over for days and need to talk through. Other times it’s a sin that I keep finding myself struggling with. Often it’s the critical thoughts that tend to take up residence in my head, shoving aside God’s words of truth and bring me to tears and of guilt, shame, fear and overwhelm.
Consistently though, God has met me in those places of need as I’ve turned to someone at church and bared my burden. I’m met with encouraging words, reminders of God’s promises and faithfulness, prayer and often a hug.
Likewise, I’ve been met with gratitude for my willingness to be vulnerable and broken in front of others. Because, honestly, that’s just not a thing you see all the time.
These kinds of relationships are born in and grown through fellowship in and around church.
Three years ago, our little congregation of less than 50 merged with another local small church. A majority of church merges fail. Ours has been a story of success. And in that place, I’ve gotten to know a whole new group of people; people I’d never have met otherwise.
Some are well into their grandparenting years, enjoying traveling the world. Others are just starting out, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first baby. And there’s everyone in between. We’ve got nerds, geeks, intellectuals, blue collar, white collar, scrubs, lab coats, graduation caps, Bermuda shorts and button downs with a tie. And every single one of those people has impacted me, whether they know it or not.
You see, going to church is really good. You learn a lot about God. You sing some good songs full of good words and truths. You hear things that encourage you and maybe even challenge you.
But being the church…that’s even better.
Because then you get to rub elbows with people who are just like you and nothing like you at all. You get to see the vast array of people who God calls His own. Sometimes things get a little messy, but hopefully, as Christ stays the focus, even the messy is made clean again.
Being the church you can speak into one another’s lives. You can experience that ‘iron sharpening iron’ accountability and growth that’s talked about in Proverbs 27:17. You become invested in something that is so much bigger than yourself and it reminds you just how incredibly generous our God is.
Going to church is really good. Being the church is the best.
What about you? Do you just go to church on Sunday, letting the message slough off you as you walk out to your car, while the music fades in the background? Or do you take the church with you, presenting Christ to a broken and hurting land, recognizing that left on your own, you’d be just as broken, too?
In this week’s episode, we tackle part 2: What a healthy church looks like. To kick it off, we give a brief overview of the churches we grew up in and a glance at some of the churches we’ve attended throughout our marriage. From congregations of thousands to a mere 35 or so, we’ve experienced a pretty wide range.
Brandy’s upbringing found her in an eclectic mix of people, with a church full of hippies and suits and ties, while Matt grew up in a rather conservative church in a conservative town.
But how do you know if the church that you’re considering attending is healthy? What are some hallmarks to look for as you consider returning to or attending church for the first time?
Join us as we talk about the importance of God’s word being honored and taught, the value of authenticity of believers and the very real need that we all have to find a place where we can serve others.
We also talk briefly about overcoming when you’ve been hurt by the church. We recognize that there are some wounds that are incredibly deep, but also encourage our listeners to seek counsel in order for those wounds to heal.
Scriptures we reference:
2 Timothy 3:16
It had been years since I’d stepped into a church. If not literally, then certainly in my heart. I’d been apart from God for a long time, rejecting Him and His word at every turn. Living life on my terms was way more fun.
Until it wasn’t.
When my lies finally caught up with me, I could see my surroundings more clearly. I hadn’t been living large, I wasn’t in control and all my feelings of grandiosity and self-assurance were just a facade for the absolute fear I felt. Fear of being found out, fear of my own depravity, fear of who I’d become and fear of the dark and lonely pit I found myself in.
But there I was. At the threshold of a new start. Beyond those double doors was a world that I’d known and grown up in but somehow seemed foreign and frightening.
It was a new church. A big church. One where I could get lost in the crowd. I didn’t want to be seen, even by strangers. I was certain that my sin was palpable; that by merely looking at me, people would know immediately that I was among the worst of the worst. In Old Testament times, I’d be stoned to death for my sin. And though it was 2010 AD, I was pretty sure, the response I’d get from others wouldn’t be far from that Old Testament notion.
Beyond that, what would God do to me, a sinner, a harlot stepping foot onto holy ground? His holy ground. I’d never heard of anyone getting struck down by lightning for walking into a church, but it seemed possible.
With a deep breath and holding the hand of my daughter, I walked in, my husband and son by my side. No lightning. Not even the rumble of thunder in the distance. So far, so good.
My daughter, upset by the fact that we weren’t going to be returning to our old church, the only one she’d known, had been given the important job of choosing our seats. Somewhere in the back seemed good. That way, I wouldn’t have to make eye contact with anyone and we could leave the second the service was done.
Nope. My sweet baby angel decided that we needed to be front and center. And I do mean front. And center.
With a little coaxing, we managed to get her to move one row back. So now we were second front and center. Right in everybody’s line of sight. And I mean everybody.
Thousands of people come to this church every week. They had no less than 5 pastors on staff at the time, in addition to the worship pastor and the youth pastor. And there I was, with my sin oozing out of me, right where everyone could see and point and judge and either feel pity for or be repulsed by me. But my daughter wouldn’t budge. We were not moving seats when I’d already made her move to a new church.
Okay. If sitting there would make my daughter feel better about life, I’d do it. I’d just keep my head down and try not to draw attention our way.
Then the music started. Piano, guitar, the rhythm of the drums. It all came together into a beautiful melody of praise, making much of Christ and His great love for us, sinners through and through.
I don’t remember what songs we sang. I didn’t know most of them. What I do remember is the worship pastor, sitting at the piano and looking at me as he sang about a God who loves his people, who calls us His sons and daughters. He sang about God’s goodness and glory, his redemption, and grace. And it seemed to me, his eyes never left my face as the tears streamed down my cheeks.
The house lights were low, the stage lights bright. It’s entirely possible that he didn’t see me at all, but everything about that moment pierced my heart and dropped me to my knees.
I was a wretch. I was broken. I’d hurt the people I loved the most and lied to them for years. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. But here was this man I didn’t know, singing God’s word over me, assuring me of His love and forgiveness.
And I began to heal.
Every week we returned to those same seats. Every week we sang and praised God. Every week my husband and I cried out to God asking for His grace to wash over us and to heal our brokenness and save our marriage. Every. Single. Week.
And He did.
God met us right there. He met us in song and in the teaching. He met us in the people we started to meet. He met me at the Bible studies and recovery groups I attended. He met me in the kindness of a stranger offering words of encouragement. He healed us. He restored us. He turned our ashes into garlands of praise and redeemed our days.
And it all started with a small step. It didn’t take much to get my foot over the threshold of that church, and yet, it took everything. It required that I admit that without God, I am a mess. I can’t do life apart from the Creator of life. I need Him desperately, especially when I think I don’t need Him at all. Left to my own devices I will wreck havoc on myself and everyone in my path. But with God, anything is possible.
He can even take a broken, messed up, guilt-ridden sinner like me and create something new.
Go to church, Beloved. You need it. Trust me.