Finding Space For Grace

My middle son recently attended the annual youth Confirmation Retreat with other 8th and 9th-grade students from our church youth group.

After the retreat, the students came and met with the elders of our church to share the faith statements they worked on as part of the confirmation process.  They were then received into church membership and we celebrated them this past Sunday morning in one of our worship services.

There were many things I loved about this process, but mostly I was incredibly proud of the way in which our youth ministry staff and leaders facilitated the whole thing.

To begin with, none of the kids felt pressured to become a church member or to make a declarative faith statement.  It was their choice whether they wanted to see things through to that end, and they were not made to feel poorly if they didn't.

I also loved how our youth staff created space for grace and gave the students permission to sit in unknowing and to grapple with their questions about faith, God, the church and so much more.  This was the exact thing that my own son needed, and it filled my heart with joy to see him step into it so fully.

It's often hard to live in the tensions that are created when we have questions about faith, or we struggle with understanding the Bible or we have disagreements with others about theology and beliefs.

In his latest book Unraptured, Zack Hunt touches on the importance of being the kind of faith community where people feel free to struggle.  He writes:
Making space for people who doubt and wrestle with their faith is critical to the life of the church because faith is found in doubt.  Without doubt, faith wouldn't be faith.  It would simply be knowledge. 
If you are part of a community of faith that leaves little to no space for grace... or a church that has no tolerance for questions... or a group of friends whose friendship is conditional on your "right" beliefs... 

Take heart.  There's another way. 

There are communities of faith out there that are creating grace-filled spaces for spiritual struggle.  There are churches where you will find healthy tension between faith and doubt.  There are faithful Jesus-followers who may disagree with you (and you with them) but who are willing to listen. 

Beloved, may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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