Saturday, December 13, 2014 by Trayce Stewart

I am a Gladiator and a Pastor

Recently I met a young woman who identifies herself as a Jehovah Witness. She readily admits that she has a problem with some of the beliefs and practices of her faith community, but by and large she is satisfied. As we shared I finally confessed that I was a pastor and then the questions began. The first question she asked had to do with how I could be a Christian, let alone a pastor, and watch shows like Scandal and anything by Shonda Rhimes with the highly sexualized content and characters. She then proceeded to question if I consume alcohol and how often. While I know she meant no harm I quickly grew frustrated because this person was younger than me by a few years and was stuck in religious traditionalism. As I continue reading You Lost Me by David Kinnaman I understand Mosaics even more and share many of their perspectives and grievances against the traditional Church and its followers.

Kinnaman suggests that there are three primary groups of dropouts among young adults: nomads, prodigals and exiles. Each of these has distinctive markers but all have qualms against the Church as an institution. For many faith continues to be important but there is no place within the institution that gives them voice or helps navigate the changing landscape of society. There is no single reason that young adults leave the church but there are six broad generalizations many make against the Church. It is said that we are overprotective, shallow, anti-science, repressive, exclusive and doubtless. There is this belief and stigma that Christians demonize everything outside of the church and are afraid of pop culture. I’ll be the first to admit, and my Thursday night Facebook posts will confirm, I am a Gladiator. Please do not interrupt me between 8-11 pm unless you are making a comment about my show. Yes, the shows feature adultery, murder, cussing, alcohol and sex in many different forms, but this is life. While I may not personally agree with some of those things I just listed, I live in a culture where these things are a part of real life for the majority of us. We struggle with temptation, we give in and we continue to live. This doesn’t take away from my walk with Jesus, it enhances it and gives credibility to my ministry that I’m not perfect but I can be faithful in spite of those things. Young adults ask questions and patented answers and well quoted scriptures are not the answer to “why is there suffering in the world or why did this happen to me?”

I don’t have all the answers. I question God and faith almost daily. I cuss and listen to rap music. This is who I am as a young adult and as a pastor. This is what Second Chance is about. We are not a church for the perfect or those who have all the answers. We are a place for those who have been lost through their own wandering or pushed to the side for being too real. We get together over cocktails and debate religion and faith. We love and fail, pray and cuss. We are giving and receiving Second Chances!

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