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Father Responds to His Son's Rant about the Church

At one point in his journey towards Christ, Nathan Foster (the son of author Richard Foster) was living "a ragged attempt at discipleship." He was afraid to share his honest thoughts about God and his disillusionment with the church, especially with a father who had given his life to serve God and the church.

But one day as Nathan shared a ride with his dad on a ski lift, he blurted out, "I hate going to church. It's nothing against God; I just don't see the point." Richard Foster quietly said, "Sadly, many churches today are simply organized ways of keeping people from God."

Surprised by his dad's response, Nathan launched into "a well-rehearsed, cynical rant" about the church:

Okay, so since Jesus paid such great attention to the poor and disenfranchised, why isn't the church the world's epicenter for racial, social and economic justice? I've found more grace and love in worn-out folks at the local bar than those in the pew … . And instead of allowing our pastors to be real human beings with real problems, we prefer some sort of overworked rock stars.

His dad smiled and said, "Good questions, Nate. Overworked rock stars: that's funny. You've obviously put some thought into this." Once again, Nathan was surprised that his "rant" didn't faze his dad. "He didn't blow me off or put me down." From that point on Nathan actually looked forward to conversations with his dad.

It also proved to be a turning point in his spiritual life. By the end of the winter, Nathan was willing to admit,

Somewhere amid the wind and snow of the Continental Divide, I decided that if I'm not willing to be an agent of change [in the church], my critique is a waste … . Regardless of how it is defined, I was learning that the church was simply a collection of broken people recklessly loved by God … . Jesus said he came for the sick, not the healthy, and certainly our churches reflect that.

Spurred on by his father's acceptance and honesty and by his own spiritual growth, Nathan has continued to ask honest questions, but he has also started to love and change the church, rather than just criticize it.

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