I still remember where I sat. I was facing the black and white tile checkered wall, my back to the door to our local Baja Fresh. He sat across from me. We started with small talk, but then he dropped the hammer: "Steve, we're leaving the church."

His declaration wasn't exactly a surprise. I sensed it was coming, but it still landed like a sucker punch.

He laid out his arguments. I can't tell you what they were. They didn't appear ideological; they felt personal. I got lost in a haze of defiance and disappointment. I had people who I'd turned sideways (critics and haters and church shopping drifters) leave the church I planted before. I responded to their departures with indifference, mild annoyance, even celebration. This one was different. Tim (not his real name) was a friend, a brother, a co-laborer. We were roommates in our bachelor days. I officiated his wedding. We were young dads and husbands trying to figure life out together. So this wasn't ...

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