My faith journey is very typical of my millennial generation: I grew up in the church; was hurt by it; found healing in a liturgical environment; stopped going for a while; have found my way back. Obviously details and order may be different, but over and over I hear people with a similar storyline. At my most critical, church seems antiquated and unwilling to consider that change is an important part of growth. At my most generous, I recognize the community that church provides and that most believers really are trying to emulate the message of love Jesus gave his followers.
I’ve connected with Rachel Held Evans‘ blog for many years, as she is an eloquent voice for my generation. I’ve read her other books, but Searching for Sunday is by far her best. It’s a good balance of memoir, theology, church history, and practical observation. Written in an easily accessible style, Searching for Sunday examines Evans’ journey of leaving the church, but not being able to let it go. Evans describes her process of being too immersed in evangelical culture and being unable to ask questions or accept doubt.
What I appreciate most about the book is that Evans doesn’t attempt to speak for an entire generation – she tells her story. But, in doing so, she captures many of the feelings and experiences of the millennial generation. This is not a theology text, but a story of journey and discovery. Anyone who is critical of or curious as to why millennials are leaving the church would benefit from the insights and questions this book brings up.
Evans’ undertone of grace and reconciliation is what makes this book stand out. Rather than simply complaining about how the church has hurt her, she seeks to find restoration in her experience. She never gave up on the idea of church, but just needed to take time to find a space that works for her at the moment. She doesn’t hold one denomination higher than another, but finds hope and love in many different settings. I feel that if the church remembered this – that we are all looking toward the same end, but with a different approach – perhaps so much of the infighting in the Christian church would cease.
As Evans says,
Our differences matter, but ultimately, the boundaries we build between one another are but accidental fences in the endless continuum of God’s grace. (185)
This is a book of hope for the future and one in which I think many Christians will identify.
Tell me about your faith community. What makes it work for you?
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of Searching for Sunday. To enter, leave a comment about an experience of searching for the “perfect” community. I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, April 17, 2015. (United States addresses only.)