Guest / Limited Access /
The Gift of Being Evangelical
CEFutcher / iStock

I was a typical big sister growing up. The oldest of three, I saw myself as the guardian of tradition, the planner in an otherwise spontaneous family. Every Christmas Eve, if Dad forgot, I would round up the troops, lead the march to the carpet in front of the fireplace, and hand over the volume of O. Henry short stories that usually sat high up on the bookshelf.

In his soft voice, Dad would start reading The Gift of the Magi, reprising our family's Christmas tradition. It tells the story of James and Della Dillingham Young, whose poverty complicated the act of buying Christmas gifts for one another. Each sold their single prized possession in order to buy a gift for the other—Della her long hair, Jim his gold watch. Our family sat rapt for the 20 minutes it took to get to the conclusion—to Della's combs, Jim's watch chain, her short hair, his watch sold. "Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the wisest."

There is power in a good story. And with that in mind, a few months ago I began to write my own story of growing up in an evangelical home. Unlike the tales of Christian kids that attract the most attention in blog posts and books these days, mine has a happy ending.

I grew up square in the middle of 1990s American evangelicalism, and I'm grateful and better for it. Sure, there were exceptions—a few moments that in retrospect make me cringe—but overall, it was a rich and challenging experience. I read books like Mere Christianity and The Pilgrim's Progress; talked about gender issues, racism, and social justice; and developed a remarkable group of friends who were committed to figuring out how best to live out the Christian faith.

The more I ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueLetting Pastors Be Real
Subscriber Access Only Letting Pastors Be Real
Dale Pyne says when we put pastors on a pedestal, they’re more likely to topple.
RecommendedThe Real 12 Days of Christmas
The Real 12 Days of Christmas
Celebrating Christ's birth with saints of the faith during the actual Christmas season.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickWhen Christmas Meets the ‘Umbrage Industry’
When Christmas Meets the ‘Umbrage Industry’
If history is any guide, there’s no escaping the hostilities that erupt every December.
Christianity Today
The Gift of Being Evangelical
hide thisDecember December

In the Magazine

December 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.