By: Jason Crosby
A religious researcher recently stated that her work revealed that most Christians, including most pastors, find it difficult to articulate their faith. My personal experience tells me the researcher's conclusion is true. Even now, after seven years of ministry, it can be difficult for me to state my faith. It was even more difficult for me to articulate my faith when I was in my mid-twenties and first decided to enter the ministry.
The difficulty for me comes from various sources. For one, I made a decision a long time ago that I would not just adopt any particular religious doctrine or cliche as my faith. I strongly resist any temptation to state a faith that is not mine. Before stating that I believe something, I want to take the time and measures necessary to ensure that something is really what I believe.
I have also had trouble articulating my faith because I have tried to embrace new perspectives and people. I consider myself fortunate to have visited various parts of the world and befriended people of different ideological and religious backgrounds. Each new experience that I have enjoyed has caused me to look at my faith from a slightly different angle. I have not seen these experiences as challenges to my faith, but as enhancements. With each new experience, however, it has taken me some time to be able to restate my faith.
My initial introduction to and early perceptions of Christianity and its tenets also made it difficult for me to express what I believe. I did not grow up in a fundamentalist Christian environment and some of my early lessons in the Christian faith continue to serve as the cornerstone of my faith. However, as my worldview shifted, what I first learned about the Christian faith no longer matched my experiences. I felt as if I had learned a language and could speak it well, but that language did not adequately express what I believed. At times, it felt like it would be easier to scrap the Christian soaked language of faith I had learned for another language, rather than try to rework my understanding of the Christian faith so that it would be authentic to me.
I still find it difficult to state what I believe. However, after some persistence, patience, and grace, I am now much more comfortable doing so. For Christians, or anyone for that matter, to do a better job of stating what it is we believe, I think it is imperative to acknowledge that such work can at times be difficult and may require substantial effort.
I imagine that I am not the only one out there who has questioned the relevancy of my Christian faith because it has been difficult at times to put my finger on it as the world in which I have found myself has evolved. Have you had similar experiences? If so, please share.