Deconstruction as a Gift
There is a phenomenon going around in evangelical circles of young people (20's and 30's) deconstructing. This is the process by which they start tearing down elements of their worldview to examine. For most of the people who are deconstructing, it's a way of processing trauma or truth claims that drastically impact their lives for the worse. It also usually means that most of the people who deconstruct never come back into the belief system they once held.
You've likely noticed it a lot in news. Musicians from Christian bands DC Talk, Hawk Nelson, and Hillsong United have publically stated their own deconstruction process via Instagram. Even famous pastors like Joshua Harris and podcasters Rhett and Link have shared their stories as they began to share their doubts about God.
As a Pastor in a local church, it's painful to see because, for many of us who work in ministry, these are just headlines that represent real people. Small group members who walked away. Team Leaders who never healed from a wound. Church staff that abandons the hope they once held so tightly. These are friends and family and spiritual brothers and sisters that occupy a huge space in our lives.
These people aren't headlines. They're heartbreak.
To those people, I'm sorry. More often than not, the stories I encounter about deconstruction have very little to do with God and Jesus. They usually have something to do with how the church and Jesus' followers treated you. Whether it was a question that never got answered or a leader who diminished you. I'm sorry. Christians are supposed to be the best representatives of Jesus and most of the time we fail. I'm so sorry for your pain and I wish I could have been the one to help you.
But for those in the church who have those deconstructing around them. This is a gift. So many churches try to debate people back into the faith or correct them. While there is a place for that, it's probably not the time to teach theology but lean into their story. People rarely ask a theological question out of straight up cerebral mindsets. It typically comes from a life situation.
Grieving parents ask "Does God even love us?" Doubtful students ask "How do I know God is real?" These are questions birthed from crisis situations and it is a gift to the church because it is an opportunity for us to stop being the church that badgers people into a faith they don't really believe. We don't have to mistreat people because we are afraid for their souls.
When Jesus saw the rich young ruler walk away, he didn't stop him and say, "Wait don't you trust God more than your finances?" He didn't debate him. Jesus let him walk away because belief can never be coerced.
Your deconstructing friends are a gift to be Jesus in their life.