37 Signs That You Were a Christian Kid Born in the 90’s

Christian kid

Growing up in the Christian subculture was a unique experience. As was growing up in the 90’s. Those of us who emerged from a blend of these two backgrounds share common-experiences, cultural bonds and traits that make up who we are- and what we believe- today.

Here’s just a few of them:

1.) All you need to know you learned from:

2.) You seriously questioned whether or not you should read the Harry Potter books when they first came out…because witches.

3.) This was what you watched at every youth-group movie night for, oh- about sixteen years:4.) Most of the anxiety in your life can be traced back to the Left Behind series:

Will YOU be??

 

6.) Avalon, Steven Curtis Chapman, Plus One, OC Supertones and, lest we forget:

7.) Speaking of which: you know all the words to “Jesus Freak.”

8.) …and your first AOL screename was derived from the title (JSUSFreakgurl3599)

9.) Today, as an adult, you sometimes feel as though the faith of your youth propagated an us verses them mentality against the culture and ‘the world.’

10.) When you started dating you learned the meaning of a DTR

11.) But then you kissed dating goodbye:

 

    (…and that hat too, I hope.)

12.) You’re not sure what Jesus would do..but he sure as h-e-doublehockeysticks would wear this bracelet:

13.) …and ironically (though not until now) your entire conservative, non-denominational youth group all wore rainbow versions of the above-mentioned.

14.) You had a lot of great experiences at church as a child, but sometimes feel like God was missing from them; and now you struggle to see how that faith is relevant to this life.

15.) You weren’t allowed to watch the Simpsons…because they make fun of Christians!

(though it does justify your previously mentioned anxieties about Harry Potter).

16.) You didn’t shop at Abercrombie and Fitch but did buy:

17.) You wanted (and tried) to vote Republican– at age 9.

18.) You can finish this bridge: “Scanned the cafeteria for some good seating / I found a good spot by the cheerleaders eating…”

19.) The first time you went to Mexico was on a missions trip the second time was on an all-inclusive cruise…sometimes you get the two mixed up. 

20.) You didn’t date your first love, you courted them… and it’s about as awkward as it sounds.

21.) Sometimes you long for the days when faith (and life, really) was black-and-white.

22.) You think Nicholas Cage is a poser, because:

23.) The first rapper you listened to was Kirk Franklin.

24.) You remember visiting the Creation Museum for the first time- you wondered then (and wonder now) if faith always has to come at the cost of science.

25.) It’s not Christmas without Amy Grant and it’s not Christmas (evidently) unless you’re in Tennessee.

26.) Your first kiss was at the youth group lock-in.

27.) Your first broken bone was at youth group, during a game of red rover.

28.) So was your second.

29.) That youth pastor was fired.

30.) You’ve done communion with Surge and Cheese-Its.

31.) That youth pastor wasn’t fired.

32.) You got a purity ring on your 13th birthday:

33.) Today you are fearful that members of your church might find out what you did while wearing it.

34.) The phrase “Touched by an Angel” prompts nostalgia, and this never seemed weird to you….until now.

It’s like a face-off with the board of Planned Parenthood

 

35.) Harvest parties not Halloween. Done.

36.) You accepted Christ nine times- usually at church lock-ins. Today you often wonder about those in the world who don’t get a chance to accept Christ. “Is the Christianity orf my youth really the only hope?” You’re not entirely sure. And you’re not sure who to ask.

37.) But what cheers you up is when you read the Bible and encounter a story you’ve definitely heard before… on Veggie Tales:

In a research project titled Faith That Lasts the Barna Group looked to identify the reason why nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) walk away, either temporarily or permanently, from their faith after the age of 15. Their conclusion, after five years of interviews, surveys and case studies, was that

“No single reason dominated the break-up between church and young adults. Instead, a variety of reasons emerged.”

The most prevalent of these reasons being:

  1. Churches seem overprotective.
  2. Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
  3. Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
  4. Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
  5. They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
  6. The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

Christian heritage is a wonderful thing. But it comes with its share of baggage. One of the great challenges for those of us entering adulthood is rectifying the realities of faith with the questions of our world. How does Jesus matter outside of Vacation Bible School? Is the notion of ‘purity’ we learned as kids truly pertinent to faith? Is there room on the straight and narrow for our wide and over-bearing questions? Where do I belong? 

What we have to remember- what we’re coming to learn- is these 37 things are not the cornerstone of our faith. The foundation of Christian faith is not what we do, how we identify ourselves or the way we grew up- the foundation of Christian faith is grace. Grace that permeates our homes, childhood and new beginnings; grace that opens up the gates and invites all to enter; grace that answers our questions with a gentle smile; grace that confronts our doubt with outstretched hands; grace that reminds us that we are caught up in it every minute of every day.

Maybe we can come to see our upbringing with all its traits, flaws, debaucheries, guffaws, legalities and nuances– maybe we can come to see these, not as relics of our disillusionment but as the quirky means of ordinary grace.

If we can accomplish this then maybe, just maybe, our reasons for leaving the faith can become the transformative means of God’s grace in this ongoing journey. Maybe we can take the good and the bad, knowing that Christ sees all of it as somewhat peculiar (at best) and yet loves us anyway. Maybe we can reform our hearts instead of leaving our traditions. Maybe renewal is possible and redemption- even of the most idiotic aspects of our backgrounds- does have a chance.

Maybe. Just maybe.

If nothing else, it’s worth a try.

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My Three Greatest Doubts (And How Faith Addresses Them)

My Three Greatest Doubts

I’m a Christian, and I really struggle with doubt. I wish I could tell you that my faith has never been jeopardized. I wish I could say “psh! Of course I don’t ever doubt the Bible is true, that Jesus rose from the dead, or that God is real.” But I can’t. Doubt is a major part of my Christian journey- some days more than others. But it’s always lurking, always present.

Though I’m not the only Christian who struggles with doubt, the path of questions can sometimes get lonely. Doubt shouldn’t be glorified in the Church but we lose something when we hide our struggles from each other. For if we believe that faith is the foundation of our Christian identity, then it’s worth considering that Christians are defined, not by the things we know, but rather by the questions we ask.

Thus, I’d like to share my three greatest, most consistent, and prevalent doubts and how my faith- the Christian faith- addresses them:

1. Sometimes I doubt that God is good.

All it takes is watching the evening news: ISIS is beheading children in the Middle East; the international sex trade continues to abduct, rape and sell thousands into prostitution. Elsewhere tornados rip through entire towns and flooding causes a mudslide that wipes out a village. Later I sit and cry with a friend who just lost a parent to cancer.

So it seems necessary to ask the question: with all this evil taking place under his watch…how can God be good?

Asking this question necessitates a concrete definition of what ‘good’ really means. And we have only to look around us and see that ‘good’ is an obscure concept, at best. For instance, I’m currently on a diet. Ergo, I don’t always eat as much as or whatever I’d like; instead of cheesecake, it’s steamed vegetables, which definitely don’t taste as good. And yet my doctor would say that dieting is good.

It’s a trite example but illustrates the question: what is good? Does an end result of goodness justify the temporary lack thereof? If so, could this same logic be raised to a cosmic level?

Many people do just that: they claim that God’s ways are mysterious, everything is within his will, and (somehow, eventually) all the evils of this life will be atoned and the sufferings of the world redeemed.

Is such thinking a cop-out? Perhaps. One of the most memorable scenes in Fyordor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov is a dialogue between two brothers over this same question. The older brother decides the eternal redemption of all humanity could not possibly be worth the suffering of just one child, that nothing God might do could justify or redeem all the evils of the world.

brothers k quote

There’s a third way to look at this, one that’s grounded in the thinking of an early church father Irenaeus. Under this proposition, love requires suffering. For love is too rich, too true, too real, not to know the evil it has overcome. God’s choice in creation was a choice to create humans capable of love- which meant we were also created with an inevitable ability to suffer. Is this a cruel thing? Dostoevky’s character would probably think so. But I married my wife knowing that, in doing so, I opened myself to the possibility of unthinkable pain should she ever die. It’s a terrifying consideration. But love is worth it.

Along these lines, it’s worth suggesting that what I consider ‘good’ usually equates to a false sense of mortal security: “safety”- for lack of a better word. Whereas true goodness- love lived out- is actually something much richer and more profound than mere safety or comfort. CS Lewis aids this assertion with his analogous description of God in The Chronicles of Narnia:

“Course he isn’t safe…but he is good. He’s the King, I tell you.

2. Sometimes I doubt my own salvation.

Sure I’ve never killed anyone, I’ve only cheated once (or twice), and I tithe (about) 10%. Plus I’ve prayed- numerous times- for God to forgive me of all my sins. But when the rubber hits the road, can I really be sure that I’ll be saved?

I’m not the first to have such a concern. The eighty-first question of Westminster Catechism asks: “Are all true believers at all times assured that they shall be saved?” The answer? No, certainly not. Instead, the catechism states, true believers are prone to: “…sins, temptations and manifold distempers.”

Yea- me neither. But what I think this means is that I’m not the only one who falls into pits of despair, worried that some skeleton in my closet that will label me ‘damned.’ It means I’m not the only one who looks around in church quietly wondering “am I sure this is the right denomination? What if God only saves the Baptists?”

In this, I find comfort in Jesus’ Parable of the Tax Collector and Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14). It’s the Catch-22 of grace: if you think you should be saved you’re screwed; but if you think God ought never spare you, then he’ll look upon your humility with mercy.

In other words, grace is a terribly beautiful thing. And I struggle with it every day.

3. Sometimes I doubt that God even exists.

If faith is a rope bridge over an abyss called ‘atheism’ then I’m dangling somewhere in the middle, flailing for a better grip. While I take these doubts seriously, I also find great comfort and truth in Karl Barth’s words on the matter:

“One may, of course, be confused and one may doubt; but whoever once believes…may take comfort of the fact that they are being upheld. Everyone who has to contend with unbelief should be advised that they ought not to take their own unbelief too seriously. Only faith is to be taken seriously; and if we have faith as a grain of a mustard seed, that suffices for the devil to have lost his game.”

In other words: faith is not something I do; it is not an action I complete. Rather, faith is the realization that I’ve been caught up in grace. If I realize this one day but am unable to reckon with it the next, it doesn’t change my state or God’s provision. Faith is not a rope bridge over an abyss- it’s a helicopter that’s carrying us above the Grand Canyon. It’s terrifyingly beautiful. But, in grace, we’re safe and sound.

Which is where I find myself, more days than not: caught up in grace. I have doubts. But at the end of the day they can’t oust the grace that’s been poured out.

It makes sense, then, that my favorite passage in the Bible is a five-word entreaty. Because these simple words describe my spiritual journey better than all the creeds and church doctrines ever could. They are beautifully comforting. And every trial of doubt I experience, ends with them as my prayer:

“I believe; help my unbelief!”

(Mark 9:24)

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