to your brothers and sisters in deconstruction. Some have had a friend or family member struggling with faith tell them, “I don’t know if I can call myself a Christian anymore.” They don’t need us to evangelize, answer, or save them. They need empathy and compassion, not judgment and rebuke. They need ears, not a voice.

More often than not, there’s a story behind the breaking, a loss behind the leaving. It’s not always reactionary, not always driven by bitterness, cynicism, rebellion, unbelief.

Aren’t many who deconstruct at least somewhat justified in leaving the religion, the church, the system, the god they do? We would be wise to ask—what are you leaving, and why? We may be surprised to discover we agree (at least in part) with the answer.

Are we willing to love and listen even to those who do not or will not return? Not making a project of them, but walking with them as far as we can. May they not find a truer God—Christ, perhaps—in a humility willing to help bear their burdens down the dark road of doubt and unbelief?

Not long ago I saw a video clip on a deconstructionist Instagram account featuring a well-known evangelical pastor speaking out against deconstruction (calling it a “sexy fad”). The post’s description read, “Tell me you haven’t been listening without telling me you haven’t been listening.”

I am saddened that this is what some of those who deconstruct experience from parts of the church. This perhaps well-intentioned but unempathetic message pushes those on the fence or on the other side of the fence even further away. It doesn’t recognize or own up to some of the real hurt, trauma, pain, and loss experienced by some who are deconstructing their faith. When Christians take this approach, they absolve themselves from walking in another’s shoes. They place their “truth” over relationship. They rush to defend and protect the faith from the “others,” those dangerous outsiders.

And these “outsiders” might say, “I was not heard before I left, and I am still not heard now that I have left.”

What of the God who leaves the 99 for the one?

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