We The Church

Chasing The Rabbit

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

There was nothing so VERY remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so VERY much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, `Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’ (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually TOOK A WATCH OUT OF ITS WAISTCOAT- POCKET, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.” -Alice in Wonderland (Chapter 1)

Today, I chased the rabbit into the black hole that is Facebook. It was an innocent curiosity that led me to it, but I should have known better than to follow that eternally ill-timed rabbit into the black.

It started with a video clip of a youth pastor teaching on what is clearly an extremely personal matter for him. He worded some things differently and perhaps poorly. He claimed a personal encounter with Jesus but named that encounter a vision. The poster of the video, another youth pastor, gave a warning that we must be careful what we say as teachers of The Word.

Of course, we must. I did not disagree that we should watch our words closely and guard against speaking things that are not Truth. But then I watched the video and frankly, found nothing out of sorts about it. I knew immediately what others had been put off by in the way the lesson was presented, but I did not find it to be contrary to scripture. So, I dove in after the rabbit and asked the poster to help me understand what bothered him about the lesson.

And down, down, down we went, passed empty marmalade jars and faceless screen names. I saw several accusations: heretic, blasphemy, off-base, false gospel. And I, like Alice, kept speaking into the deep void. Except, in this case, the deep void kept speaking back. The voices seemed to dub this man The Mad Hatter. A nonsense-spewing lunatic that would drive people from the real Jesus. And all the while, the voices are the Duchess, spouting on about the boundaries and moral laws, and leaving no room for questions, doubts, or a different perspective. And there is room for boundaries and rules. I am a rule follower in many regards, but perhaps I am most like Alice in that I long to understand what is beneath the story. There is cause and effect in every moment, in every person’s tale. I want to know why the world thinks this man is doomed to lunacy (or heresy). I want to understand his choice of words. I want to know why people are chained to the comfort of their doctrinal language.

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

My sentiments exactly.

I admit, I am bothered by so many finding such fault in this young man’s words. But more so, I am irritated with our lack of an ability as Kingdom citizens to disagree without ripping each other to shreds. We are a curious bunch indeed, having experienced the most lavish of grace and in turn giving the harshest lashing with our doctrines. I have not been able to put this thought out of my mind, that while there are warnings about false teachers, Jesus himself never called anyone a heretic. He did call the pharisees hypocrites. And in fact, those hypocrites labeled Jesus as a heretic. So, yes. We should be careful what we teach, but perhaps we should also be slow to name someone a heretic. To most of the voices in this particular rabbit hole, the words of this man seemed upside down. But, if you feel right side up in the Kingdom, it just might be you that is upside down. After all, the Kingdom of God flips this world on its head.

Finally, having seen every corner I cared to see of the world in the rabbit hole, and wishing I’d heeded the Caterpillar’s advice to keep my temper (rather than let this madness raise my blood pressure), I crawled out wondering if, in fact, we are all mad here. And we’re not of course. The Gospel is true. Jesus is the only way of salvation, the only gate to The Kingdom. But perhaps we can lay down our Queen of Hearts ways and silence our “Off with their heads” judgments long enough to hear each other. Perhaps Facebook could be a book full of conversations rather than accusations.

“‎You’re not the same as you were before,” he said. You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness.” 

The Kingdom of God should have a muchness about it, but I’m afraid we keep losing its muchness. Its muchness is not in excusing false teaching, but in extending dignity and grace as a first response. Its muchness is in not responding as the queen does with her “Sentence first. Verdict later.” approach to the ones who step on her toes. We all like to wear our theology crowns and declare who is in and out.

Here’s what I believe: there are very few theological hills to die on. Jesus is fully God, fully man who lived perfection and physically died as our pardon. He rose again and there is no other way into the Kingdom of God but through Christ. There are other valuable hills but there are many others that are man-made hills. Let’s just decided to listen first before we fall on our swords at the top of those hills.

And, here’s what I feel about my experience today:

“Well that was the silliest tea party I ever went to! I am never going back there again!” 

The Road Trip

General wisdom would tell you that it isn’t a good idea to get into a car with women you met online. There is, of course, the matter of safety. After all, you might end up dead on the side of the road. But, aside from that, there is the near guarantee of sheer awkwardness.

Hours in the car with women you know from the internet? Sharing a small house, that has one bathroom, with 9 other women? And a party with 200 plus whom you have only interacted with on Facebook? It just sounds like a recipe for disaster.

And yet…

Last weekend, I went on an adventure. I took a road trip with my internet community. 5 of us caravanned to Austin and we were later joined by 5 others in our tiny house. Together, the ten of us went to a backyard party with 200 other women. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Community has been difficult for me the past two years. I don’t share that so you will throw me a pity party. (I’ve thrown enough of my own over it and they aren’t the best sort of parties.) It has caused me to review my years on this planet and examine the communities of which I have had the joy of being a part. There are many flashes of healthy friendships, strong community, but that’s the thing. Those moments feel like flashes in the pan. Just little sparks of hope in the midst of something that seems more often than not to be difficult and painful.

It isn’t anyone’s fault. It is everyone’s fault. Mine too. It’s our brokenness. It’s our looking to others to make us feel whole. And it’s no one’s fault. We live in a transient culture. People don’t stay put. Interests change, seasons change, locations change. This has always been one of the most difficult realities for me to grasp. It began in college. I had friends one semester who I never saw the next. I hated it. I thought it would end after graduation. I was wrong. Now, seasons seem to change a bit slower, no longer semester by semester. However, it also takes longer to bond with adult peers than it did with college peers. Everyone has routines, responsibilities, and reputations to uphold. We don’t let people in very quickly.

So I have been in a season of isolation, and it has been wrecking me. But then I joined this launch team. Large groups of women generally make me want to run and hide. So much estrogen. Lord bless us. And internet community? …well that isn’t a real thing, right? I figured I would read a book, get a glimpse into the mind of an author I highly respect, and that would be it. A great experience, but contained within my own walls, within a few months.

Instead, I have found this community. Women who have loved me in the biggest ways. Women who have lived the gospel. Sacrifice for the others, crying tears over someone else’s pain, and then throwing the best girls’ weekend of all time.

On Friday morning, the first crew of 5 went to South Congress after a fantastic lunch at The Salt Lick. We knew some other of the launch team ladies would be there but how to find them…we had no idea. We parked and headed to the crosswalk, and just across the street, we saw them…another crew. Y’all, you would have thought we were childhood friends reuniting. We were screaming and hugging. Oh yeah, and introducing ourselves. When does that happen? When was the last time you saw someone you didn’t really know and had a little street corner party?

And these women! That day, the clerks at the TOMS store were invited to North Dakota, to game night, to church. A group of women exiting a store found themselves in the middle of a launch team street corner party and asked if they could hang out with us because we were so fun. And they did! It was Annie’s birthday so we celebrated with her! And there were other stories too. I had feared it would crumble when we moved beyond the screen into real life. Instead, I watched this weird grace spill out into the streets of Austin. And it was beautiful.

Then there was a real party. We gathered in the yard of the woman who had given us this gift. She introduced us to her family, she hugged our necks, she spoke to each of us as though she knew exactly who we were. And this generous, kind person asked us to be her friends not fans. She was precious. And while I am certain we would be magnificent friends, I am also certain that she and I will never be the dubsmashing*, text for no reason, sit on the porch and spill your guts and laugh till you cry, kind of friends. Even still, it was the words God gave her, the dream that began in her heart, that gave me those kinds of friends.

Why has it been so different? Why is it that as women (and men?), we can walk into a small group at a church with every intention of building deep friendships and end up feeling more lonely and more disconnected than ever? Why is it that that we can extend ourselves to the outer edges of our souls in the name of connecting as we know we were created to and yet, feel as though we have been speaking into a void? But then, this. No hope for relationship, no plans to connect with anything more than written words and BAM! community.

I think perhaps it is about expectation. Most of us tend to go to small groups expecting to find friends. We expect to find The Church as it should be. But she isn’t. We aren’t as we should be. We are all grasping for worth from our community. And it never works. Maybe, just maybe, this launch team led to community because none of us expected it. We just came in, ready to have a little personal adventure and it became more. It surprised us. In the very best way.

We have already begun planning our next trip. Perhaps we will visit our friend in North Dakota.

Wondering what dubsmash is? Well, here you go:

Book Giveaway: For The Love

If you have been a frequent visitor to B&B, you may recall that I have introduced you to several of my new friends from a little corner of the internet known as Facebook. This community began a few months ago when Jen Hatmaker sent out an invitation to be a part of the launch team for her new book: “For The Love”. She was looking for 500 people. 5000 responded and, somehow, Jen’s team narrowed it down to 500. I am honored to be one of those.

Now, about this book.

When I was little my mom would disguise my medicine in yogurt and I would gobble it down. Jen Hatmaker has managed to accomplish the same thing in “For The Love”. She has wrapped up much needed wisdom and truth in the tasty goodness of her fun and sassy voice. No matter what season of life you find yourself in, there is plenty of deliciousness for you to find in the pages of her latest invitation to join the conversation of faith and culture.

Basically, I want to just summarize the entire book for you, but that is a bit ambitious. Instead, I will share some of my favorite bits of wisdom from Jen’s collection of essays.

Life Balance:

You know, as I do, the unspoken pressure on us to do it all, be it all, have it all. And we just can’t. Jen speaks to this mythical creature of balance for which we are all striving. It isn’t real. We will never find balance because life is always changing. But, we do have the freedom to say no. We don’t have to put everything on our beam that the world (or our friends) tell us to. Look y’all. If you aren’t crafty, quit beating yourself up by trying to force yourself to recreate pinterest projects with perfection. Just set it down. Not a over-the-top party planner? That’s ok. Your kids will go to other peoples crazy themed bashes. You just keep on hosting those pizza and movie sleep overs. Your kids will still love you. For me, I needed to take some activities off of my beam that I love. There simply isn’t room for all of them right now. I can’t say yes to everything. I will lose my mind. Jen so gracious put into words the freedom I needed to decide for myself what is and what is not on my beam. You have that freedom as well.

“Wise women know what to hold onto and what to release, and how to walk confidently in their choices- no regrets, no apologies, no guilt.”


There is so much to be said on this topic. The American gospel is not the same as The Gospel. We take the the good news of Jesus and mix it together with the American Dream and get some mutated version of truth. And this isn’t truth at all. We can’t keep telling the woman desperate for a child to cry out to God while telling the single woman longing for a spouse to be content. We can’t preach an easy life in Christ and ignore the millions of Christians being murdered and mutilated for their faith. We need to take a step back and hold up our teaching to the light. Are we teaching truth or teaching comfortable half-truths (*ahem* …lies).

“If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true…Theology is either true everywhere or it isn’t true anywhere.” 


Ladies, I know, this is a sensitive subject. But let’s be honest, we have issues. When we start seeing ads on social media for yoga pants that look like dress pants, we have crossed into a dark place. This section of the book had me in tears. She is so forthright about fashion issues such as leggings, tights, overalls, reoccurring trends. This chapter is one I feel I could have written although Jen is much more masterful in her approach.

“Listen, some fashion trends, captured regularly on iPhones and Buzzfeed, are assaulting our culture and must be addressed. I suspect that you, like me, are both critic and culprit; so this is a manifesto and a confessional. We must repent and be cleansed of the following fads. The first is a specific tragedy I call Leggings-As-Pants/Tights-As-Leggings (LAP/TAL = no). And don’t make me delve into the crisis that is Tights-As-Pants (TAP = seek professional intervention).”

Growing Up in Church (Then and Now):

Y’all. I honestly wish I could just write out this entire chapter for you. “Jesus Kids” for me was the most compelling chapter of “For The Love”. I just kept nodding along in agreement and verbally affirming Jen’s words here. It is everything I want to say and everything I want to have the courage to wade through as a youth pastor. Culture is winning the war for the hearts of our students and one of the big reasons is because we, as the church, have not learned to address the outside world with grace. Teenagers now are facing a very different world than the one I grew up in. Church is no longer a family priority. Giving out stickers for memorizing the Ten Commandments isn’t working anymore (did it ever?). We can’t keep hoping our kids will respond to the methods with which we were raised. The message doesn’t change. Jesus doesn’t change. But our method will have to or we will keep losing kids. The church is bleeding out and we keep trying to cover the wound with old bandaids that are full of germs and have lost their stickiness.

“Young adults are abandoning church, so we can either listen carefully or watch their backs as they go. We cannot be more committed to our methods than our message. Do we want to raise disciples? Then pay equal attention to what isn’t working as much as what is. “


Here is what being on the launch team meant: I got to read the book early, write an endorsement that is now on Jen’s website, and participate in the birth of a beautiful community of women. This group of women has encompassed the heart of Jen’s book. We come from different walks of life. We don’t see eye to eye on everything. And yet, we discuss these issues with love and compassion. We celebrate each other and cheer each other on. We cry and pray together and we revel in our snarkiness. It is this grace-extending, ache-sharing, cheerleadering, work-it-out together with sass and sincerity type of community that Jen’s words speak to.

“Let’s lay down our junk, our wonky junk that messes up relationships and community and togetherness. We won’t let our own crazy stop us from affirming each other and banging the drum for our sisters. Our tribe does need not be ruled by scarcity; there is enough for every woman to live beautifully. A rising tide lifts every boat in the harbor; when one woman rises, we all rise. Let’s open our hands and give it all away—esteem, honor, attention, love. What’s good for one is good for all.”

I could go on and on. I have only scratched the surface. But it wouldn’t really be fair to Jen if I retype every word of her book here for you. Instead, I suggest that you run out and get a copy ASAP. Grab some friends and read it together. Discuss it over dinner, over coffee, over Facebook.

I love this book. And I am confident you will as well. In fact, I’m so confident that I got an extra one to give away. Yes. That’s right. You could win a hardback copy of “For The Love”. It’s our first B&B giveaway and I couldn’t imagine a better one. There are a few ways to enter. The winner will be announced on August 26th.

*Edit* As I mentioned, this is our first giveaway and apparently rafflecopter didn’t want to cooperate. Therefore, here is how you can enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post answering the following: What is one thing you need to remove from your beam this Fall? (2 entries)
  2. Tweet about this giveaway: #ForTheLove of giveaways! Enter to win @JenHatmaker’s new book at @erinrwoodshttps://bedrocksandborderlands.com/2015/08/18/book-giveaway-for-the-love (1 entry)
  3. Use the share buttons below to share this post via Facebook. (1 entry)