Uncategorized — February 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Message from the Founder & CEO, Chris LaTondresse

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Recent studies reveal overwhelmingly negative perceptions of Christianity among the Millennial generation (those ages 18 – 34), matched with a precipitous drop-off in our generation’s identification with Christianity and the Church.

In short: Christianity in America is broken; it is rapidly losing our generation.

Some in the evangelical world find these trends alarming. Struggling to stay relevant, they fear they are losing our generation for good; that we’re too “post-modern”, too “progressive” and too inclined to play fast-and-loose with “biblical truth”.

Meanwhile, many in the mainstream media still get hung-up on old narratives about what it means to be “Christian” in America. The bogey-men of the “Religious Right” still dominate popular culture’s imagination of what the evangelical world is all about. Pat Robertson, John Hagee and James Dobson are still the icons of the movement.

In reality, our generation defies both of these stereotypes. We’re deeply spiritual, but deeply cynical about institutionalized religion. We’re committed champions for important social causes, but reject the co-optation of our faith to serve a particular political agenda. We believe that God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican.

Moreover, for us, poverty, war, disease, violence and environmental degradation are not just negative forces to fight, or ideas to grapple with; they have names and faces.

“Christianity in America is broken; it is rapidly losing our generation.”

Chris LaTondresse, Founder & CEO, Recovering Evangelical

Our generation’s tutors are child-soldiers in Uganda, girls rescued from sex-slavery in Thailand and homeless youth living in the crumbling remains of America’s inner-cities. Our primary classrooms are Brazilian favelas, rural villages in Kenya and bombed-out neighborhoods in Gaza. These people aren’t our causes. They’re our friends.

For these reasons and more, we’re turned-off when faith becomes a bludgeon used to condemn those outside of our tribe. We think the world needs fewer culture warriors and more peacemakers, reconcilers and bridge builders.

We believe in loving others and pursuing authentic relationships that cross barriers of race, religion, ethnicity, gender and class. We aspire to these virtues as an imperfect expression of God’s love, compassion and justice.

The aim of Recovering Evangelical is simple. Our movement represents a growing number of young evangelicals, post-evangelicals, and others in our generation who resonate with the transformational vision of Jesus of Nazareth, and who—together—are committed to bringing American Christianity into greater alignment with this vision.

We invite you to join the conversation. You have a unique perspective. You have a voice waiting to be heard. This movement belongs to you.

Our goal is to offer you both a platform and a community, amplifying your voice and connecting you to other thought-leaders, practitioners, bloggers and citizen journalists from our generation who collectively aspire to create a “new normal” within American Christianity. Together, we will begin Recovering Evangelical.

What’s your dream for our generation? Where do you think Christianity has most gone off-course? Which vision of Christianity do you hope owns the future? Please leave a comment below.

With hope for a better future, rooted in the love, compassion and justice of Jesus,

Chris LaTondresse | Founder and CEO, Recovering Evangelical

49 Comments

  • Love the site, Chris. Found it via Brian McLaren’s site. I blog on similar things myself here in Wales, UK.

  • Just stumbled upon this… loving the thought of our generation’s tutors being the poorest of the poor and those who have known true suffering. It’s with them that the words of Jesus make the most sense and where the old stereotypes and opinions ring hollow.

    I’m seeking God and a faith above the tired in-out definitions. Looking forward to following this site and exploring the continuing conversation.

  • Great to hear from both of you. What’s your story?

  • Chris – I’m in Michigan where a few buildings are still standing and a couple people have jobs. I’m from here but spent time living in SE Asia and Baltimore/DC before moving back. Attending Mars Hill Bible Church currently.

  • Just be sure to keep the main thing the main thing as they say. The heart of the gospel is summed up in the words of John the Baptist – Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I too grapple with the issues of “the poor.” I live in a country (Bolivia) where the gap between rich and poor is incredible, where prejudice is rampant (not just between Latin and Indigenous but also between various original groups). I can feed the poor, help heal relationships but if I do not point people to the Lamb of God (the only way to God) then all I do is make his path to hell more comfortable.

    • Amen! Well said. We can feed and clothe people endlessly but if we don’t point them to the truth – the way, the truth and the life – then we have done nothing. I too am sick over what the “church” has done in the name of Jesus – what we need is the true Church as it was intended by God – the Church that stretches into eternity and is an army so powerful, it causes satan to tremble.

  • Hi Chris,
    We met Brian Kammerzelt at a justice conference a couple weeks ago in Bend, OR. I’m a former co-founder of Boston Faith and Justice Network (with Aaron Graham) and currently sit on the Board of a similar group in Oregon, Oregon Center for Christian Voices (formerly Values). Both organizations were partly founded out of a national call by Sojourners/Call to Renewal to see this vision lived out (in many different ways) in individual states. I believe we have an OCCVer who is in touch with you, but I just wanted to say how much I appreciated seeing your site. I look forward to reading more and finding community here. And, of course, we’d love to have you come visit us here in Portlandia!

  • Hello, Chris and company, from Amman, Jordan. The piece about John MacArthur on the revolution(s) caught my eye on facebook. Well done. I hope John saw the evangelical Copts leading the Muslim crowd in worship songs on youtube.
    I’m a content, entrenched evangelical mom who writes about Middle Eastern social issues on my blog an inspirational Jordanians in Ammani magazines. I know a few Questscope folks here and knew Jim Wallis’ parents in Austria. Small world. All His best!

  • Hi Chris, meandered over here from iMonk.

    Really impressed with the team, and abashedly bemused that I’m probably old enough to be everyone’s mother :) May God grant to all of you the fulfillment of his dreams you have been called to take up.

    I couldn’t ultimately find real, deep and congruent answers to my questions and longings, after having been raised RC and then spending +30 years in E’icalism, in any area of Western Christianity. I was sort of sideswiped by Eastern Orthodoxy, and after some prayer, thought and investigation I was received into a Russian-tradition church in 2009. I’d be really interested in your impressions of Russia when you were there, however old you were. Email me if you like.

    Dana Ames
    Ukiah California
    2 hrs N. of San Francisco

  • “Not our causes but our friends.” YES! I am so happy I found this site!

  • Apparently I was born before my time. :-) I’m not part of your generation, but I definitely identify with your vision. I have great hope, expectant hope, that this vision is not limited to your generation. Shine His light on the path for the generations before and after you to follow.

  • This is an interesting website. I’ve been a critic of American Christianity and considered myself a “recovering pentecostal” for a about the last 25 years. I’m looking forward to the conversations!

  • It’s unfortunate there needs to be labels at all….but we are creatures caught in time, so that, yes, there are reasons for demarcation and a need for denotation. I respect your desire to be taken as an individual, and NOT stereotyped…..!

    My story is that I am a Progressive in Christian cloth, and we are trying ‘break-out’ moves in our community to circle the flanks of our crumbling economic system.

    One glaring example : Trying to replace FICA with FJCA.

    WHY is “Fair Issac” leading by the nose and “Fair Jesus” being overlooked.

    It IS possible to be a citizen of the world ( bank accounts in several nations ) AND a citizen of a nation.

    BE !

  • “Christianity in America is broken; it is rapidly losing our generation.”

    I landed on your site by following a link from Facebook to your written reaction to John Piper’s tweet. After reading some of your posts, I have to wonder if the quote above shouldn’t have read:

    “The American [millenial] generation is broken; it is rapidly losing touch with Christianity.”

  • There is no bible in this…. which is also the problem with Western Christianity. There is no worship of God here just good deeds and busyness. I applaud wanting to love others… but if not done to bring glory to God it is filthy rags.

    • Excuse me, but this:

      “We believe in loving others and pursuing authentic relationships that cross barriers of race, religion, ethnicity, gender and class. We aspire to these virtues as an imperfect expression of God’s love, compassion and justice”

      is absolutely from the Bible. “The purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience and from a sincere faith.” 1 Tim 1:5. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:28.

      Since when are love and authentic relationships the same thing as “good deeds”? How can “aspiring” to “an expression of God’s love, compassion and justice” not be glorifying God?

  • Like someone said earlier, I may not be in “your” age bracket (I am 45)but I am sure on the same page with you! So glad I found this site!

  • This site really resonates with me, and I’m in my mid-40s. I believe this movement is multi-generational.

  • I am an older member of the tribe. I belong to the United Church of Canada and currently studying to be a minister.

    I am a green, queer-friendly, Metis feminist whose life was amazingly disrupted by a call from my hero, Jesus!

    Keep fighting the good fight in the south!

  • Are you contemplatives? Cultural Christians? Christians in Name Only (CHINO). Do you support abortions by supporting this administration? Did you vote for Obama who supports the funding of Planned Parent Hood. Are you a non-profit organization or can you vocally speak for or against a candidate? Do you believe in Replacement Theology? What is your view point on Eschatology? What about your thoughts on Prosperity Preaching? Who are Esau’s decendents? Or can God hate or did He hate? You say you move in political circles; what is your view on same sex marriage? Do you support or are you against it? Do you increase membership through tithing or offering? Just a few questions.

    • “Do you support abortions by supporting this administration? Did you vote for Obama who supports the funding of Planned Parent Hood”

      Hahaha YOU are what makes “Christianity broken” No disrespect intended but PLEASE stay on this site. This website is for you, brother.

    • “Do you support abortions by supporting this administration? Did you vote for Obama who supports the funding of Planned Parent Hood”

      Serisouly??? YOU are what makes “Christianity broken” No disrespect intended but PLEASE stay on this site. This website is for you, brother.

    • Sorry to have say it Kevin, but your litany is just nonsense. The concerns you itemize do not point to Christ except by what they are not.

  • Hi! Chris,

    Thanx for a fresh air website. I found it through McLarens site & have made it one of my favourites. I’m writing from South Africa where Bible quoting Christians used the bible doctrine for years to enforce racial discrimination.
    I’ve been looking for a site where some of us, who just find it impossible to believe primitive biblical claims, can find family & worship again.

  • We have different fundamental commitments, Chris, but I appreciate your voice – you sound passionate, engaged, righteous! As long as you’re on the side of love we can work together!

    • Is love something that has a “side”? Or, Is love the infinite, undivided and all inclusive being of God?

  • In high school, I went to church every Sunday and found myself becoming a part of the “youth group” movement developing culturally across the U.S. I was told that every small step I took in the wrong/evil direction, beginning with, for example, taking drugs or skipping school or having sex outside of marriage, would eventually push me further away from a relationship with God. As I progressed through college, which I’m currently giving up on, I saw myself taking those steps that the church told me would eventually push me further away from God, one step at a time.
    But in all honesty, the further away I got from the mainstream, evangelical, in-your-face Christianity lifestyle, the closer I came to God. My life has fallen apart in so many ways since those times in high school. I don’t feel comfortable with the culture of Christianity that exists in the U.S. It feels like it has become a self-serving, profit-driven business. And here I am, with my life falling apart, being drawn closer and closer to God every day. I have no hope of defining anything for certain about God, but there is absolutely no question in my mind that God is there. I feel like I’m looking for the only thing that matters constantly, and yet I feel I am made of the very same thing I seek. I want to live in a world where we can all love each other. Remember: they will know you are Christians by the love you have for each other. Let’s stop this Religious business and wake up to the spirit of God of which everything in this existence is made of.

  • Hi Chris, I’m a recovering missionary. I went on all those Global expedition trips as a teenager and was convinced I was “called” to the mission field” I now see the world for what it is: Humanity all trying to make sense out of life and it work at the same time. Sometimes we find enlightenment, sometimes we fail. But we are all in it together and no two of us will ever (or shouldn’t anyways) find it the same way. If we are made in God’s image then we should all be making our own interpretations of who he is and what that means to us. Because we are all different, (created unique for a reason) and each sees things a little different from the last person. Martin Luther was on the right track. Just that, I think we somehow got derailed from it and got caught with our heads in our ass while the world sits and marvels at our hypocrisy and illogical insistence that non-issues are REALLY BIG issues (abortion, homosexuality etc) So I’m going to stick around. I don’t think Jesus is all that pivotal of a figure though. But hey, I really am open-minded. If he is, I’ll soon figure that out. Thank you for filling a need people from Christian backgrounds DESPERATELY need. I’ll stay tuned for sure!

  • Very nice site, besides of sojo.net that I also like, something for a thinking and caring Christian. I hope that the mainstream European Christian movements could get more influences from this kind of American Christian thinking instead of often importing only the worst kind of prosperity gospel from the USA.

  • Christopher,

    I saw your article on Huffington Post. You write well, you have some excellent ideas, and I applaud what you are doing.

    However, as to the question of “Evil” you need to read a book by the French Philosopher, Paul Ricoeur: THE SYMBOLISM OF EVIL . That book will give you a much more informed and nuanced understanding of “Evil”.

    Another book by Ricoeur, FIGURING THE SACRED, will, I think expand you thinking on the work you are doing.

    Sincerely,

    Richard Lauck
    Durham, Maine

  • Hi Christopher,

    My dream is that we all will feel that we are made of the same God energy and that we hate ourselves if we hate eachother. As long as we place God outside of ourselves it´s impossible to feel the connection with all that is. I also wish that Christians wouldn’t be so afraid of people with medial abilities. In the same way that “God” was able to talk to us in GT times, he does so also now.

    Check out for instance
    http://www.kryon.com or
    abraham-hicks.com

  • Sorry, it should be OT (Old Testament) times.

  • A great web site. Though in Oz, I can relate to alot of the sentiment – perhaps you should consider chapters in other countries?

  • As I write this, I am still awaiting approval for membership, which I may not get since I am among the youngest members of the Baby Boomer generation. Despite my age, however, I am attracted to this site because I can identify with those who grew up believing that they had all the answers, knew it all, and were fit to judge everyone else. I am deeply ashamed of this and certainly repentant. I am probably more conservative than many who are here, but I am happy to say that I have learned it is a good idea to listen to others, to consider alternative points of view. Sadly, my epiphany didn’t come until just a few years ago when I began to have serious theological conversations with my son, who was then a seminary student. Turns out that I had a badly skewed perception of who God is. When that changed, many other ideas began to shift as well. I am not here to argue, though I hope to discuss occasionally. Rather, I am here because I have discovered that I can learn a great deal from those younger than I.

  • Do you think people with faith issues from other religions can join this group? I am a lapsed Hindu and studying Early Christianity at university and vacillating between eastern spirituality and Judeao-Christian scriptures.

    • Perhaps the nature of “Faith” is that it is always an approximation. Going beyond it to what can be known, might be the nature of “Grace”. Leaving the “Knower” behind, might be the nature of “Salvation”.

  • On 01-04-12, I met “recovering evangelical” for my first time. I am 78 and have extensive training in Philosophy. In my early 30′s, I gradually and reluctantly exited formal religion and have become progressively disinclined toward it. Too many of the “religious stars”, e.g., Billy Graham and his son, Franklin , are wealthy in a material sense. On the contrary, Paul , Peter, and Jesus were not if one accepts the NT record as being somewhat correct. My hermeneutical inclinations are similar to Schweitzer, Barth, and Brunner.

  • Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your work. You are asking hard but good questions. I hope that answers will bring each reader closer to a real relationships with the real God.
    I have been in fellowship in evglcl churches since 1976. I believe that we need to understand why our version of religion is often not resulting in a real love for God that is evidenced by a real love for other human beings.

    The writers of the New Testament believed that if someone says he loves the invisible God, but does not love his neighbor he is simply lying. They taught that a person who is filled with God’s Spirit is full of love. They taught that if a person is strengthened by God’s Spirit so that the root and ground of their inner life is the love of Christ, (which surpasses knowledge), then that person is filled with all of God’s fullness.

    Christ taught that the way a student of His is set apart was is by the kind of love he shows to others. This includes people both in inside and outside of the fellowship of our believing communities. His definition of the kind of neighbors we should love includes even people that could be dangerous and inconvenient to love and who are very different from us or even might hate us. And Christ’s prayer for His students was that they love each other with that same kind of love and that they would have a oneness based on that love. The kind of love He wanted them to have preexisted our universe. It is the kind of love that the eternal Father has always had for His eternal Son. (Since you were brought up as an MK you can likely find the Scripture references for each sentence in this paragraph, so I won’t list them.)

    One of the most defining teachings of Jesus the Messiah is “love your enemies” along with His teaching to “love those who can’t pay you back”. The logic He uses to persuade His readers simple: This is the way God loves all humanity, good and evil a alike. He is not asking us to do something He Himself has not done. His love is so patient that He forgave us and died for us while we were enemies, and ungodly sinners. And His love is so kind that He came to us when we were helpless. (see Mt.5; Rom.5; 1Cor.13; 1Jn.4:9-10)

    So, my story is this: I was born into a Catholic family in 1960 near San Francisco, CA. I became an atheist for a several years because of “the problem of suffering” and the hypocrisy I saw in religion. Then I surprised myself by being convinced that Christ really who He claimed to be. I spent many years studying the Bible and learning from evglcl teaching and doing voluntary work that I thought would please God, while at the same time finishing my education and later while working in the Emergency Department as an RN.

    I’ve never been involved in the “culture wars” in the US. In the 80s and 90s I spent a good bit of time with homosexuals both as an RN (AIDS patients) and with people that I met here and there and became friends with. I am of European descent, but I moved into a neighborhood that was predominantly filled with people of African decent. I am male, but I worked in a field that is predominately female as an RN. It is safe to say that when Jesus came to our neighborhood (earth) there were more than a few things that He found different and evil about us. I would like to suggest that the differences between me and the person one earth who is most opposite to me, is like my congenital twin when I compared to the vast distance that Jesus crossed culturally, socially, spiritually and even in terms of physics, to reach me. I like the quotation by Abe Lincoln that says something like, “I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend.” Isn’t this the main way that God seeks to destroy His enemies, by making friends of people like me? (The Bible calls it “Reconciliation”).

    I moved to Turkey in 1997 with my wife and kids in response to God’s love and call. I have been involved in supplying Turkish olive oil to other countries and in non-profit work. Turkey has the fewest % of evngcls of any nation on earth. It is not always easy being a minority, but it is a good place to follow Jesus. I have become a Turkophile and am very glad to have been able to live among this very special nation. Like all nations there are some difficulties here, but it is wonderful to see how God is working in every place and in every heart (see Rom.1; Acts17)

    This note was longer than I intended, but I want you to know you are not alone in your quest for reality.

    kind regards,
    Dennis

  • I like what you are doing but would encourage you to be more inclusive. As a lifelong Christian and evangelical until the age of 50+ I can relate to what you are doing. However, I would encourage you to be more inclusive of all age groups. Also, the um arrogance of giving yourselves BIG titles CEO, COO is um, well, out of keeping with your message. Sorry to criticize. I gave up on evangelicalism some years ago and am trying to figure out how to continue in faith. Thanks for your site.

  • Why do you only have one woman on your team?

  • I attended BIOLA College, and Talbot Seminary, serving for over 20 years as an Evangelical Minister. My Major was Biblical Studies, Greek, and Christian Education. I was very sincere, and very dedicated in my desire to serve God in various local churches, and foreign mission’s. Over this time I became deeply confused, because the institutional, denominational church did not seem to truly reflect my understanding of authentic New Testament Christianity. I seperated from organized Christianity over 20 years ago–and recently have been even more concerned and outspoken regarding the ultra-right-wing-politicization of the Evangelical Church. It saddens me, I cant express how deeply–to hear those who claim to be Christians speak in such hateful, prejudice, judgemental language. Also–to create a so called Christian culture which is built on one’s adherence to current Republican Tea Party leanings instead of the life and words of Jesus Christ. One of the central problems in America today is this failure within organized-denominational evangelical Christianity–the failure to understand and reflect real Christianity. One example: During the last Presidential election I read many comments, articles, posts, and ideological statements from “good evangelicals…” which sounded more like the KKK then Jesus Christ.

  • I just want to add that it’s not only the millennial generation that is being repelled by the modern Evangelical movement. There are plenty of baby boomers (some of my dear friends) who can’t see Jesus in many who say they are his followers and have concluded that the church is not for them.

  • Finally, a branch of Christianity I can relate to! I look forward to reading more in this site.

  • I’m not sure what to make of this website yet, but am very much into authenticity, something to which many churches do not yet aspire. You people at least appear to be more real, compassionate, and open to what others’ opinion may be.

    I am a singer on a worship team at New Life City in New Mexico. It is very inspirational, and we reach out to many different people where they are. We have accepted drug addicts, single people, even single parents–of which I am one. We espouse God’s Love to every person, and hope that this love will produce miracles and faith in others.

    The danger always seems to be that, on one side, there are fake people like Kenneth Copeland and Pat Robertson, who give all Christians a bad rap by their hypocrisy and mishandling of the Gospel, and on the other side there are those who pick and choose what in the Bible to believe, such as Oprah Winfrey. Jesus Christ was a real person, but is also our Savior, and to lose sight of this is to lose everything. Period. It took me quite a while to get to this place, so I understand the struggle. I don’t always understand the decisions, however, especially when Jesus was so plainly spoken on many issues of today, and did not look down on anyone, including prostitutes and tax collectors.
    My brother puts it best when he says, “Jesus is Lord; the rest is details.” I hope you and the followers of this website see that.
    If you want to know more about me, feel free to visit my profile page. I am Meg Gold, also generally known as Goldenruler. :0) You’ll find that I am serious, but not stuffy.

    God bless you.

    –Meg

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  • Please see: http://www.titanicfaith.org for a free download of the new book “Lifeboats and Maps for the Titanic Faith of the Western Church” by Galyn Wiemers. Galyn is a public school teacher, Bible Teacher, and author of several useful books to help Christians mature with an understanding towards biblical truth.

  • You’re all still Christians. It’s not helpful to those of us who aren’t, and don’t want to be. I don’t think this comment will even go through–but there is nothing for us who have left the faith, despite the fact we left it with good reason.

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