This week’s Perspective Shift comes via Rev Dr Katie Hays, the founder and lead evangelist of Galileo Church, a church that seeks and shelters spiritual refugees, especially young adults and LGBTQ people on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas. Her new book, God Gets Everything God Wants, releases Sept 21st.
Just the other night a beloved newcomer made a painful confession over dinner with new church friends: “I used to pray all the time, and now I don’t know how. The stuff I used to believe about God, how to talk to God, what God actually cares about – none of it makes sense anymore. So how am I supposed to talk to God now?”
Tears spilled over her cheeks. We all nodded, and somebody passed a Kleenex.
The nodding was a sign of more than empathy – it was solidarity. Lots of folx, by the time they get to our church, are spiritually and emotionally depleted after a long slog through the deconstruction of what they used to know for sure. They’re clinging to shreds of something like faith by their fingernails. They love Jesus, but they’ve been told they’re not really Christian. Their hearts are broken.
They are simultaneously the most vulnerable and the most self-protective souls I’ve known.
As the Lead Evangelist of a church that “seeks and shelters spiritual refugees,” I’ve been asked many times, “How do I get it back?” It’s the question she’s asking me now at the dinner table, and it’s a fair one.
How does a person who was once so silly-in-love with God and the people of God return to that romantic state, and enjoy its reciprocation? Oh my friend, I’m thinking with some unvoiced nostalgia of my own, I remember it well…
I say, “No, that’s not how love works. You don’t get to stay in the naivete of thinking you’ve got it all figured out and it’ll never change. You’ve changed. And now your understanding of Who God Is has changed, is changing. So you move on, you and your Beloved, usually through some misery, some catastrophic loss; and then you come out on the other side – different, but better.”
“The good news I have for you,” I say as she mops up the tears and looks at me with such trust that I almost gasp, “is that you don’t have to do this next part alone. The deconstruction of your faith was isolating, I know. But around here we specialize in theological rehabilitation, together. We make old things new, broken things work, overwhelming things manageable. With God’s help, we bring dead things to life. Stick around; learn some new language; think some new thoughts; hear old stories with new ears. Come to love God again. Because God has never stopped loving you.”
God Gets Everything God Wants is a fulsome account of the theological rehabilitation we’ve been working on at Galileo Church since the church was born in 2013. We learned the hard way: it’s not good enough to practice the repetition of all that we no longer believe. We’ve returned to the stories our ancestors told (i.e. the Bible) in light of our lived experiences, searching for a new story to tell. Here is our articulation of that story, one that brings hope and healing and help to our lives and our life together, one that returns energy to our depleted spirits as we risk loving this world God still loves.
My Conversation with Katie Hays
Full disclosure: I freaking love this book.
It’s probably going on my short-list of Books I’ll Be Recommending to Post-Evangelical Humans.
When you’re ready to move on from the constricting religion of yesterday and in to the liberating, free-flowing, dynamic religion of radical love, hospitality, and grace, then check out God Gets Everything God Wants.
And join us today at 2pm PST on The ALTER!
Last Week on The ALTER
If you missed last week, I was joined by The New Evangelicals founder, Tim Whitaker.
Check out our conversation about why he thinks evangelicalism is worth preserving (and, obviously, reforming).
Last Week on The Kate & Colby Show
Do you know Rev Dr Michael W. Waters?
Kate and I did not, until last week, and now we can figure out how we didn’t beforehand!
Michael (or Mike, as he said I could call him) is the author of numerous books, including the upcoming children’s book Liberty’s Civil Rights Road Trip (based on the true story of when he took his family on a road trip through important stops in Civil Rights history).
We had an incredible time hearing about his hope, his work, and his grounding in love.
Check it out!