I am a 30-year veteran of youth ministry in the church, out of the church, and in para-church. I have a huge heart for people who have been hurt by the church, deconstruct their faith, and have doubts and questions about God and life. No matter if you are in high school, college, a millennial, or Gen X, I would love to journey with you in discovering a God who is more loving and mysterious than we may realize.
“I met Phil for the first time during the summer of 2015 in La Misión, Mexico. He was leading a Be2Live trip while I was in town with my family of six. Our introduction was brief, but I remember walking away thinking Phil seemed like a good guy doing good work.
A friendship emerged over the next few years as Phil and I moved our families out of our respective American, suburban bubbles and into the small town of La Misión. Phil uprooted his family from California, and I brought mine from Ohio. For both of us, this move was a risky step of faith where we entrusted the future of our marriage and our kids to the One who was disturbing us with hopes for something better than the American Dream and something deeper and richer than American Christianity.
Phil is the safest person I know. I trust him more than any other person in the world with the exception of my wife. He is always listening, asking questions, and being kind. This comes from his Christlike character, grounded in humility. When you’re with Phil, it’s safe to ask questions. It’s safe to challenge assumptions. It’s safe to disagree. If more of us were like Phil, the world wouldn’t need designated safe spaces because there would be plenty of safe people instead.
What’s unique about Phil is that he holds tightly to the person of Jesus. That is, he listens to Jesus and puts into practice what Christ says. This is the mark of a true follower, and it shows where his humility comes from. On the flip side, Phil holds loosely to doctrine. He allows his doctrine to change as he has more and more encounters with the God who loves him. This isn’t to say doctrine is unimportant; it simply means Phil is first and foremost a follower of the Person found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
A huge problem in American Christianity is that we have it exactly backwards: we hold tightly to our doctrine and loosely to Jesus. We are not known for loving our neighbors, loving our enemies, or showing kindness to strangers. And when young people look at our actions and our doctrine and start asking questions, we get defensive. Rather than listen to their questions and be the safe person they need, we try to force-feed them the correct answers.
Phil will show you that anyone who sincerely follows Christ finds that their understanding of God changes over time. God doesn’t change, but our understanding of Him changes. It has to, because God is infinite and He will continue to blow our minds and burst our bubbles for ages to come.
And that is what this book is about. It’s about learning to hold tightly to Jesus and more loosely to our doctrine because our doctrine will surely change as we encounter this God of infinite love.” – Gabe Landes