We are continuing to look at Joe Terrell’s article on Carey Nieuwhof’s website titled: “5 Real Reasons Young People are Deconstructing Their Faith”. In my last blog post, I discussed the first reason which you can find here. I encourage you to read both as we work through these reasons.
Honestly, reason #2 was a little surprising to me at first. Mainly because it really didn’t explain why living in a more diverse, accessible, and mobile world would be a reason for deconstruction. But the longer I thought about it the more I began to understand. The world we are living in today is much more diverse, complex, nuanced, and beautiful than at any time in the history of the United States. Because of this diversity, many are deconstructing the faith they were taught.
I grew up in the farmlands of Ohio. I went to church, attended a private Christian school, and all but maybe 2 people were just like me, white and Christian. My best friend and everyone at church and school were just like me, same culture, similar background, same religion. It was my own little bubble. There was little diversity. Honestly, I didn’t know how to interact with people who were different from me, so sadly, I stayed away. It wasn’t until I got to college that my college roommate was Latino and later one of my best friends were from Kenya. After I left college and moved to California, I began to interact with people who had different religious backgrounds and lifestyles. I had to take a long hard look at what I believed, why I believed it. Interacting with people and having friends who were different from me is when I started my deconstruction.
The world is very different today for my two kids, who are 17 and 15. They have friends and aquaintences of different ethnicities, cultures, lifestyles, and religions. Their world is much more complex and pluraistic than the one I grew up in. Many of the young people today (Millenials) may have grown up in a very homogenous environment, but when they left home, they met a world of diversity and was connected to different people in college and the work force as well as on social media. We cannot understimate how diversity and social media has impacted people’s faith.
The majority of people today live in proximity to others who are different from themselves; different in beliefs, lifestyles, ethincitices, etc. I would suggest that being in proximity to people who see the world differently than you, is a good thing and something we must embrace. It is also something that will deeply affect you.
The reason for deconstruction is that many were never taught how to embrace a diverse world and how to interact with it. Mainly because they didn’t need to. Yet, I would suggest many were taught to look at these differences (and people) in a negative way, sort of an “us vs. them” or “we are in and they are out.” Which is easy to do when you don’t have a relationship with “those people.”
But now many people have friends who are from different backgrounds, religions and lifestyles. These friendships has caused many to re-evaluate and deconstruct their faith and perspective because what they were taught about others doesn’t work in the context of this new world. Especially when those who are different from you, are your good friends who you care deeply about.
This does not mean that those who are deconstructing have thrown all their faith out the window. Most I have talked to are still tightly holding onto Jesus, but they are allowing anything that would be a barrier to loving their friend to fall away. They are loving others like Jesus loves them, it just may not look like it did 20 years ago.
Questions to consider if you are deconstructing
- How has a relationship with someone different from you changed how you see the world and God?
- What is something you have learned about God as a result of being in a diverse community?
- What is something you wished the church would have done to prepare you for living in a much more diverse and nuanced world?
Questions to consider if you are church or Christian?
- How can you prepare your young people to be more loving and open to a diverse world without letting go of Jesus?
- How can you create space in your life to build relationships with someone who is different from you? (Not to evangelize, but to love and learn from)
- How can you re-enagage people who are deconstructing in a way that creates conversation, learning and understanding?
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