Mike Yaconelli is owner and co-founder of Youth Specialties, former editor of the religious humor magazine The Door, and the author several books, including Messy Spirituality: God's Annoying Love for Imperfect People (Zondervan, 2002).
You start the book by saying that after 45 years of following Jesus, your life is a mess.
The subtitle of the book was going to be "Christianity for the rest of us." And the reason I put that there is because I was so tired of hearing religious speakers tell me how perfect they were. After hearing a sermon or reading a book or going to some religious meeting, I felt worse than when I got there because they had it all together. They had it all figured out. You know what? I'm almost 60. I've had five children. And let me tell you, I don't have life figured out yet.
What was your early life in faith like?
My folks were converted when I was 11 years old. [They] had this incredible conversion and just turned around. And I did then, too. I can remember the night I became a Christian. And man, this weight came off of me and all that kind of stuff. What I didn't realize was, that was just the beginning—of a huge journey.
What happened when I went to church was they edited out all the stuff in the Bible so that when I heard the story of Noah I was always just thrilled to hear about this man who believed in God—the only guy who believed in God. They didn't mention that when he got off the boat he got drunk and got naked. They never told that. Thank God they didn't put that on a flannelgraph, but I'm here to tell you that I never heard that story.
So the theology that you were raised in was not messy. It was the idea that now you've met Jesus, things are going to be straight.
They're going to be great, you're ...1
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