I recently applied (and was accepted, wootwoot!) to Seminary. As part of the application process we had to write an essay about our spiritual journey, relationships, etc. There was one question that really challenged me. It asked what needs we considered to be the most significant for ministry in contemporary culture.
Authentically raw and uncut faith.
Now more than ever culture demands authenticity, with dramatically raw teachings, and faith that is more real than just Sunday Service.
We can all see that ministry culture is catching on to this idea, with the word “authentic” being tossed around left and right. But I have to beg the question, what is authentic faith?
Does it mean that we’ll throw in a couple tweets about our personal lives every so often?
Does it mean that we’ll smile and put on a happy face to absolutely everyone that we meet?
Does it mean that we’ll finally talk, and I mean carry out deep discussions and conversations, about real issues, head on?
Does it mean that we’ll finally talk about our own sins, and not continue to pretend that life is perfect and we are perfect?
While authenticity is becoming a cultural trend in ministry, what is even more important than that trend is our definition of authentic. Lives depend on that definition. Life decisions rely on that definition. Think about it. Many youth will come to a youth service or a youth program and will never come back after one meeting. Why? Many will say because a message had nothing to do with them or they couldn’t take anything away from it, or that they felt judged, or that they couldn’t relate to anyone there.
These reasons can be avoided when we are boldly authentic. When we will finally talk about issues that these teens are actually dealing with, like, dare I say it, sexting? Or eating disorders? Or sexual pressure? Or body image? We can keep teens from walking away from God when we finally open up with them, when we discuss what we deal with and allow them to see how we are fighting to live for Christ in this fallen and pressure filled world. We can allow them to relate to us when we finally open ourselves up to relate to them. As soon as we break down that wall, they will no longer feel judged because they see that we are all alike, we are all sinners who are redeemed by a God who is everlasting and always forgiving.
Authenticity isn’t just about being ourselves. It’s about having courage to show even our worst selves in order to bring glory to God. It’s about knowing our power and place in Christ, and having freedom to speak about our mistakes, failures and temptations so that others can be freed as well.
So I must ask you. What is authenticity to you and how will you live out that definition?
Does it mean the occasional personal tweet?
Or does it mean living boldly raw lives with the power to uncover and discover truth together?
Your definition of authentic has the power to change lives and change this world for Christ.
But then again, it all depends on your definition of authentic.