From college onward, I rejected the church. I couldn’t make sense of all of the miracles, which didn’t square with my understanding of the world. Yet, as I grew older and we moved to the suburbs, I also understood how easily we might become totally self-absorbed, focused only on our own lives. I didn’t want that for myself or my children. I knew that church offered a way to reach out and contribute to others, but to make that palatable, I needed a place that would let me interpret Jesus and his meaning in a non-dogmatic way..
When my family and I were looking for a church, using the yellow pages in those days, most of the ads seemed very conservative. Then I saw the listing for Lynnewood. All it said was “Come grow with us,” and that was the kind of invitation that actually appealed to me. We attended and became members, and Lynnewood has fully lived up to its promise of allowing us to grow with it.
Lynnewood doesn’t just tolerate differing viewpoints, it actively encourages them. Several years ago, I was complaining to Pastor Kim Risedorph about the percentage of wars that had been fought in the name of religion, the amount of prejudice and intolerance churches and other faiths had encouraged, and how much suffering and violence had been the result. I expressed my concern that, even though religion had the potential to do a lot of good, it also could be very dangerous. Kim responded in a very unexpected way. She said she thought the youth really needed to hear that perspective and asked if I would start teaching Sunday school.
I felt like I was the last person who was qualified to lead teenagers on their faith journey, but I agreed. My approach to teaching is that I want young people to truly own their religion, as something they have consciously and intelligently chosen. We’re not trying to stuff anything down their throat. Instead, we’re teaching them the good and the bad, and letting them evaluate it for themselves.
I’ve taught many classes over the years and had an opportunity to see a lot of kids at Lynnewood grow up. I’ve been really impressed that, when you let teenagers wrestle with these questions, they take it very seriously. I believe they are being taught decent values, not freighted with magic. Their values are influenced by Jesus but rooted in the real world.
I’ve always been amazed that at Lynnewood you can question anything and it’s okay. We have a range of people, from those with a very conservative take on Christianity to people who have a hard time even with theism. Lynnewood is a place where people with these different perspectives can engage in very respectful conversation It’s a church that offers an opportunity to participate in the community and to truly examine your life and your values, without saddling you with a lot of mythology and political baggage. Although I am not the most “religious” person in a traditional sense, I feel very comfortable calling Lynnewood home. Faith is deep.