After publishing Divided We Unite in January, I’d been thinking about what it means to belong in Christian community. Around that time Ed Galisewski contacted me about his new book A Simpler Faith. His promo video does a good job of summing up the book and Ed’s heart for finding common ground. I asked Ed to share a bit about what it means to belong to a Christian community and how A Simpler Faith may give us some of the tools we need (and because I finally found someone with a last name that is similar to my own—Go Poland!). (UPDATE: I also moved one sentence around after reading the first comment to this blog post):
Today I’ll spend an hour over lunch with a buddy talking about the three primary elements of Christian faith—our Creator, Savior and Guide—in the most real and practical ways.
We’ll talk about the hope that’s found in having a Creator—a loving Deity who exists beyond what we can see and hear. One whose existence speaks to our deep desire that when we close our eyes for the last time, we’ll have a spiritual world in which to live for eternity.
We’ll talk about our need for a Savior—one to cleanse us from all past sins and forgive us our daily trespasses. (It only takes a few minutes into our salads to acknowledge the pesky stumbling blocks on our way toward “perfection”—something I, more than anyone, have yet to achieve. Maybe next week.)
We’ll end up talking about our need for a Guide—the Holy Spirit—to help us deal with all of life’s issues and trials. We need One to remind us that no matter what our situation, there’s a way of life that brings joy and peace.
I’m convinced this is a regular conversation every Christian can have—with any other Christian. The core elements of faith are found in the simplicity of knowing a Creator, Savior and Guide—something I affectionately refer to in my book as “C-S-G.” Of course, anything as complex as God’s amazing reality can’t be reduced to “three simple steps.” I’m not advocating that at all.
Good theology is complex for a good reason. When it comes to Christians actually walking the talk, we’re all called to a simpler faith. Everyone starts their spiritual journey—and sustains it—based on three core elements: C-S-G: Creator, Savior, Guide.
The problems come with the “extras”—the man-made add-ons. In the book I call these divisive traits our distinctives—the unique ways we “do church” in the world of Christianity (When I speak of “Christianity,” I’m talking about all faith groups who embrace the concept of the Trinity). There’s nothing wrong with believers approaching the journey differently—as long as we have respect for those whose approach is different from ours. Too often we dismiss those who aren’t in step with our distinctives. We end up creating an “us vs. them” mentality within the walls of Christianity.
This issue of distinctives, more than any other, is what drives good people away from church. When these things become the dominant focus—stressing who’s right and who’s wrong—people get fed up and leave. Who can blame them?
I want more than anything to help disconnected believers find their way back to faithful, thriving Christian community. Deep down, our alienated brothers and sisters long to be in fellowship. It’s on us in the church to make a way for that to happen. I outline ways to do this in my book—and I’ve personally seen it happen for dozens of disaffected Christians I know. By boiling down the core of faith to its essentials, we help people reconnect with their Creator, Savior and Guide—and that makes it easier for them to stay in the game.
Christian community is what I want to bring these disconnected believers back to. I am so convinced that only in community can we reach our highest level of spiritual growth. Only in community do we have other brothers and sisters in the faith to share with and ask for prayer and guidance in this ever turbulent world in which we live.
I know for me, when I was disconnected from my faith community for a while, I felt alone and God was my only comforter. Now, God is the supreme comforter, but I can tell you that it has made a huge difference when I eventually came back to Church and then back to relationship with other believers. It is in those relationships with other believers that we can be real and vulnerable and live out what Christ was trying to create with the disciples. He was investing his life into theirs so they could experience the richness of a Christ centered community.
I wrote A simpler Faith so that those who have been away from Christian community for any length of time could enjoy that kind of connection with other believers once again.
Learn more about Ed’s upcoming book A Simpler Faith here.
Ed Galisewski is a real life “Joe Palooka”—a big, good-natured guy. A men’s ministry leader for fifteen years, Ed has ministered to literally thousands of people. He has been in and out (and in again) of church, learning to overcome his own struggles with the institution while still loving the body of Christ.
Ed and his wife Lynette live in Littleton Colorado with their two children son Braun and daughter Bryn.