Let me start this off by introducing myself and telling you a little bit about my story.
My name is Clayton Christopher. My whole family is from Michigan, but my parents moved down to Circleville, Ohio when I was just two years old. We haven’t lived anywhere else since. Growing up in the Buckeye state as a Wolverine has been difficult (especially these last several years), but I’ve survived this far so I think I can make it.
My parents made it a priority to keep me in private school for my whole life with a few years of home schooling in between, rather than send me to public school. It’s hard to say whether or not I would have preferred to be in public school or not since I have no experience of it in order to make that judgment. But either way, I am thankful that my parents were doing their best to do what they believed was best for me.
Now I do not want to come across as arrogant, but I was really good at math and science back in high school. I even traveled to Boston with three other students because our school received a grant to participate in a math convention there. The math teacher that was in charge in putting a team together and preparing us for the convention chose me as one of the four students that would get to go. So my plan was to graduate from high school and go to a big state university that had a good engineering program, in order that I could do chemical engineering. I had absolutely no idea what the future had in store though. The summer between my junior and senior year, I ended up changing my mind to follow some kind of call to youth ministry.
So here I am today continuing my education and getting ready to start my second semester of my junior year at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. I am majoring in youth ministry with a minor in accounting (I had to add something to help pay bills in the future). And honestly, I am absolutely clueless as to what is going to happen after graduation or what youth ministry will even look like for me in whatever context I end up.
But what is most important to my story is that I have grown up in the Church and in the Christian tradition my whole life. I find the narrative of my life intertwined with the life of the Church. It has always been a part of me. I am full of questions, doubts, and uncertainties of what it even means to have faith these days. But through this, I have learned to lean into community and into the Christian narrative more than I ever have before. Many times I find myself being cynical and jaded towards the Church and the people that make up the Church. But I still love the Church. The opposite of love in this context is not cynicism; it would be an apathetic attitude. If I did not love the Church, I would have left it a long time ago. If I was frustrated with the Church, yet did not care, I would not be wanting to have this conversation. The Church is important to me, and I hope it is important enough to those reading this that we would be able to give our best effort to come together as One in Christ to be the Body working together in this world.
Maybe this conversation will get drowned out with the rest of the noise from the internet and media, or maybe people just aren’t interested in having this conversation. Either way, I believe it is one of the most important conversations we should be having if we want the Church to make a difference in the world.
And what is this 20 year old college student doing thinking he has all the answers to problems in the Church anyways?
I don’t have any answers. I can promise you that. All I want to do is have this conversation. I will readily admit that I do not even know that much in general, so I am open to feedback, thoughts, and ideas. Again, all I want to do is have a conversation with whoever is willing to listen and participate. I will talk about topics in the future such as early Church history and how we got to where we are today with a splintered and broken Church. I will talk about other topics as well such as creeds, sacraments, doctrine, gatekeepers of who is in and out, Christ as the cornerstone, the myth of the church needing a building, sharing resources, fundamentalism, consumerist culture, and many others.
I don’t want to have this conversation alone though. I need those of you who are reading to help out and join in. Leave comments, ask questions, talk to other people in your churches. Anything will help out.
Lastly though, I want to thank you for loving the Church even if she is a mess. Thank you for wanting to take part in the Christian story of showing radical love in the world.