Amy Butler is founder of Invested Faith. She previously served as pastor of several churches, and she is a contributing correspondent at Good Faith Media.
1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?
Like most people (I think?), different parts of our sacred text have been touch points for me throughout the course of my life.
The story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and the celebration of Maundy Thursday guided a huge theological shift in my early adulthood. It was a shift from obligation to grace; from guilt to love; from what religion taught me to what Jesus keeps wishing I could learn.
In this moment when the church is struggling mightily against a theology of scarcity, I hold tight to Jesus’ numerous parables about seeds and the truth that nothing we “have” actually belongs to us. The question I keep asking myself is: Do you believe enough to let go of what you cling to so tightly and to go and join in wherever God is at work?
I like to imagine the disciples so confused about Jesus instructing them to hold what they had loosely; to find people who are hurting outside the walls of the temple; to be the presence of God in the world around them. What would happen if I could do that in my own life? If the church could do that?
2. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?
Rev. Sharlande Sledge, the first woman I ever saw in the pulpit, and the congregation of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, which I joined when I was 18. You cannot be what you cannot see, and Sharlande was the first woman I ever saw presiding in a pulpit. The congregation at Lake Shore affirmed my call, licensed me to the ministry, and sent me to seminary.
The members of “Preacher Camp,” a support and study group of colleagues that has met annually for 20 years. They have (repeatedly) saved my life and pushed me to think in new and creative ways.
The pastoral interns I have had the gift of welcoming onto the various church staff teams I’ve led. You know who you are. You give me hope for the future and a reminder that there are some really amazing pastoral leaders joining our ranks. I’ve learned and continue to learn so much from them and I love them dearly.
3. List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.
I hate this question, so I hereby refuse to answer it.
4. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?
I do believe that people of faith have to rebuild a theology based on abundance rather than the scarcity so many of us adopt. This applies to what we have, but it also applies to what we do and who we are.
Who is welcome in our communities? Where are we showing up to live what we say we believe? Who are we harming by the limitations we impose? What resources are we wasting because we’re scared?
From my perspective, these are among the most important questions facing people of faith today. And these are related to a larger challenge in American society as a whole: fear.
We have built and we nurture a culture of fear that divides us from each other, that makes us unable to solve problems we could solve through kind and open hearts, to behave in ways we would never allow our children to behave.
I try to remember that the life I want is always on the other side of the fear. I think the life we want as a hurting and broken world is just on the other side of our fear.
5. What are a few of your hobbies?
Is this an online dating site? I love to travel, to read, to garden – all the things that make you look super cultured and interesting, obviously. I actually do love those things, but I think underlying everything I do reflects what is most important to me: relationship and experience above anything else.
Give me a trip to Italy with my daughter over any material item any day, in other words. A good meal, a beautiful overlook, a new experience: these are the things that bring me joy and contentment.
6. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?
Obviously, the time I was 16 and on my way to an Amy Grant concert when I got on the elevator … with Amy Grant. With apologies to my children and their miraculous arrivals, when I look back over the course of my life, I think those few seconds standing next to Amy Grant win.
7. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?
One thing that comforts me in all the uncertainty of the world and of my life is when I pull back and remember that God has always been here.
God has been animating human existence for thousands of years before I ever showed up. God is here all around us, ever inviting us to join in Her good and gracious work of reconciliation. And God will be here long after the brief span of my own life.
Believing that, I am always looking for the next thing, toward where God may be leading us next, and then trying to find the courage to follow God there. There is always more to tell, but probably more important: there is always more to listen to and live.
Reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens.