My spiritual formation has been a mixed bag…although up until the age of 15 there was very little formation. My parents both grew up with a very narrow perspective of who God was and how they should respond to Him. They were moral deist. They believed in God as a higher power, but knew little of the beauty of Jesus and His sacrifice and they had no concept of God as father. My mom was an irreligious catholic and my father had no affiliation at all. He would tell you now that he was just a pure pagan.
Their faith journey began after I was born (side note, it took them seven years of trying to have me…there is a great back story, but we don’t have time in this post), like most good American parents they didn’t want me to be a murderer or drug dealer, so they thought they should “go to” church. Since my mom was catholic, and my dad didn’t care that’s where they went and I was carried along, literally. It was here that I was sprinkled (baptized), and had my earliest exposure to the concept of God.
I don’t want to initiate a battle right now on the Reformation vs. Catholicism, so I will try and word this carefully….after growing up catholic all of her life my mom was left with many questions, and rapidly became disillusioned with the entire system. There are many details of her testimony I would love to share, but again, there is not time, and I don’t have her full permission, but I will share it soon. So, with her fully disillusioned and on a mad search for God we ended up in a baptist church where we stayed for a few years. There were some tragic discrepancies between what the pastor taught and how he lived his life. We will leave it at that.
This led us to visit a large charismatic church expression…I was 15 at this point. Some of you know much of my story, but a headline to title my life at this time would be “Boy with great family acts like a stupid thug for no apparent reason except to be like the people around him”. But it was here, at this church, that God broke my heart and He saved me. I still remember what I was wearing…I still remember the tears.
Fast forward 8 years, and I find myself cut from the NFL, sitting in Tennessee trying to figure out my next move. Before I’d left for the league I was attending a local church, that I didn’t know was pentecostal, but apparently it was. Within a few month’s of being back I was pastoring there.
It was my own journey and search for truth that led me to begin to read and listen to modern reformed leaders, who lead me to read the the leaders of the reformation, which led me to read the people they read, which led me all the way back to the writings of the puritans, which lead me all the way back to third century writers in church history.
I shared this because I believe each expression has shaped some function of how I see the church, ministry, and my engagement with God. Example, although I am reformed theologically, I still worship very charismatically, it is a part of my spiritual DNA. I believe that the only way we can understand where we are going spiritually is to take inventory of where we have been, and take a hard look at our spiritual DNA. So what is yours? How does it show up in your faith journey and expression today?
For you linear people here is a time line: 0-9 Catholic, 9-15 Baptist, 15-22 Charismatic, 22-24 Pentecostal, 24-present Reformed (with a pentecostal/charismatic bent)