Finding a New Way Home – By Russ Dean
This book is a memoir of my journey in faith. That journey began in the home of my childhood, but the chapters cover experiences extending from some of my earliest memories until just a few years ago. I had already begun reflecting on these experiences, theologically, as the later ones were occurring, but it was not until a friend invited me to speak to his congregation that I connected them. "You're not what most of our people think of when they hear the word Baptist," the priest of a local Episcopal church said. "Come talk to us about how you got where you are from where you started."
It was a fascinating challenge. As I sat down to prepare a one-hour Sunday school lesson for Episcopalian adults, I realized I had a story to tell. My suspicion is that this story, regardless of how eloquently I have or have not told it, will resonate with many people. Too frequently I hear people speak of their "bad experiences" with the church, experiences often occurring in the formative years of childhood or adolescence. Sadly, too many of these folks leave organized religion, if not turn their backs altogether on a God they suspect has turned a blind eye or a judgmental whim against them.
I have managed to stay within the realm of organized religion. In fact, it is my life. I have not felt the need to abandon or reject God. In fact, God has become more important, more real, more central to my story. I understand those who leave, but because I believe so strongly in the church and the value of faith in one's life, I hope my experience might be an encouragement. One can question, doubt, reject much of what we learned in our childhood, and still remain faithful.
There is a "new way home." Maybe my experiences will help some of you find it.
A native of Blackstone, Virginia, but raised in Clinton, South Carolina, Dean and his wife Amy have served as the pastors of Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 2000. Learn more about Dean on his author page.