A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

After Evangelicalism with Keri Ladouceur

January 11, 2024 Randy Knie & Kyle Whitaker Season 4 Episode 11
After Evangelicalism with Keri Ladouceur
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
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A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
After Evangelicalism with Keri Ladouceur
Jan 11, 2024 Season 4 Episode 11
Randy Knie & Kyle Whitaker

Text us your questions!

Where do we engage when we're done with evangelicalism, but we don't want to be done with the church? Thanks be to God, there are new signs of life springing up in the post-evangelical wasteland, and we're so here for it.

Keri Ladouceur leads one of those hopeful spaces called the Post Evangelical Collective. Keri is the Executive Director of the PEC, has been leading in influential church spaces for years, and she has some stories to tell. Keri's journey is one that's been marked by abuse, patriarchy, and sexism, but also by healing, goodness, beauty, and so much redemption. We're so excited about the work she is doing with the Post Evangelical Collective and can't wait to share Keri and the PEC with you.

The whiskey we tasted in this episode is Wild Turkey 101 12 Year Japanese Edition.

To skip the alcohol tasting, go to the 8:35. You can find the transcript for this episode here.



Join us at Theology Beer Camp 2024!

Get your tickets here to join us in Denver Oct. 17-19. Use code PASTPHIL2024. Let us know if you sign up!


Want to support us?

The best way is to subscribe to our Patreon. Annual memberships are available for a 10% discount.

If you'd rather make a one-time donation, you can contribute through our PayPal.

Other important info:

  • Rate & review us on Apple & Spotify
  • Follow us on social media at @PPWBPodcast
  • Watch & comment on YouTube
  • Email us at pastorandphilosopher@gmail.com


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Text us your questions!

Where do we engage when we're done with evangelicalism, but we don't want to be done with the church? Thanks be to God, there are new signs of life springing up in the post-evangelical wasteland, and we're so here for it.

Keri Ladouceur leads one of those hopeful spaces called the Post Evangelical Collective. Keri is the Executive Director of the PEC, has been leading in influential church spaces for years, and she has some stories to tell. Keri's journey is one that's been marked by abuse, patriarchy, and sexism, but also by healing, goodness, beauty, and so much redemption. We're so excited about the work she is doing with the Post Evangelical Collective and can't wait to share Keri and the PEC with you.

The whiskey we tasted in this episode is Wild Turkey 101 12 Year Japanese Edition.

To skip the alcohol tasting, go to the 8:35. You can find the transcript for this episode here.



Join us at Theology Beer Camp 2024!

Get your tickets here to join us in Denver Oct. 17-19. Use code PASTPHIL2024. Let us know if you sign up!


Want to support us?

The best way is to subscribe to our Patreon. Annual memberships are available for a 10% discount.

If you'd rather make a one-time donation, you can contribute through our PayPal.

Other important info:

  • Rate & review us on Apple & Spotify
  • Follow us on social media at @PPWBPodcast
  • Watch & comment on YouTube
  • Email us at pastorandphilosopher@gmail.com


NOTE: This transcript was auto-generated by an artificial intelligence and has not been reviewed by a human. Please forgive and disregard any inaccuracies, misattributions, or misspellings.

Randy  00:06

I'm Randy, the pastor half of the podcast, and my friend Kyle is a philosopher. This podcast hosts conversations at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and spirituality.

Kyle  00:15

We also invite experts to join us, making public space that we've often enjoyed off-air around the proverbial table with a good drink in the back corner of a dark pub.

Randy  00:24

Thanks for joining us, and welcome to A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar.

Kyle  00:38

Today, we're talking with Keri Ladouceur, who is the head of a new community of churches called the post evangelical collective. Randy is going to tell you more about that in a minute. But this is a really interesting conversation. And it's going to be a conversation that really hits home for a lot of our listeners, who are finding themselves in a place having deconstructed from evangelicalism, maybe even abusive structures of evangelicalism and are wondering, but they, you know, they want to hold on to some kind of religious faith, maybe they're long again, for some kind of religious community, but it doesn't exist around them. Maybe they looked around, and they just haven't found anything that looks right, or feels at home. This is, this is something you guys are gonna want to hear.

Randy  01:13

Yeah. And it's also why I'm so proud to host spaces where we can feature women's voices within the church, because abuse, manipulation, all the all the patriarchy and gross stuff, it, it can almost get to be like an idea. For some of us, especially as men, I'm so grateful that women like Keri who have that in their past and who have experienced all that have worked their way through it, have experienced healing and redemption, and can actually speak to it pretty pretty honestly, in ways that need to be spoken to, and and weighed in ways that people like us need to listen to. Yeah, for

Kyle  01:51

sure. Maybe we should say a little bit before the interview about what the post evangelical Collective is and what your role in relation to it has been.

Randy  01:56

Yeah. So full disclosure, cares, a friend of mine, she's turned into a friend in the last year and a half, I would say, the post evangelical Collective is this new affiliation of churches who have exited out of the evangelical movement, and it felt spiritually homeless, Ecclesia illogically homeless, and had been looking for a group of comrades and friends to journey with together towards Jesus, who still care about the Gospels, they still care about church, but want to do it in some decolonized ways, maybe some deconstructed ways, maybe some more inclusive ways to be sure. Keri is the executive director of the post evangelical collective, my church is kind of, we're in a dating relationship with the most evangelical collective, we've been introduced to them. We enjoy them. We've gone to gatherings. And we're about almost ready as leaders to say, Yeah, I think we want to be a post evangelical collective church. But I have gone faster, the elders at our church have given me permission. I've been invited to be the Regional Director for like Chicago, Great Lakes region for the PVC. And so I'm just beginning my role in that. If you're a church in the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, and you are interested in this, hit me up, send me an email. So I'm going a little bit faster and further than our churches. Does that make sense? Yeah, totally. So I'm really excited to share Keri with our listeners and share the PC in this idea of this new collective, this new movement of people coming out of the evangelical spaces wanting something more centered around Jesus centered around the church. If you're new to this podcast we taste an alcoholic beverage as part of every episode is a little unique. But we do that to feel like we are actually in a bar and having setting the table for some amazing conversations. We have a friend of the podcast who has been on with us for several tastings now. And this is the third one we're doing who generously gave us amazing whiskey to sample. And it's really fun, Tim to do these tastings with you. Welcome back. Thanks. I usually say What are we drinking, but this is a blind tasting today. Let's start sniffing and tasting him. That sounds really creepy.

Tim  04:12

Enjoy tricking these guys. It's a lot of fun.

Randy  04:15

Yeah. Oh no, this is different.

Kyle  04:17

This is very different.

Randy  04:19

It's got that like,

Kyle  04:20

it's like medicinal, more alcohol, syrup, cherry flavor.

Tim  04:25

And very, like for me it's very fruity and floral. But again, a little hint of oak behind all of that.

Randy  04:34

Yeah. Yep. I'm always so freaked out doing blind tastings because it'd be like I'm gonna make it

Tim  04:45

I would say we we've been drinking bourbon on our channel for three years now and we get it wrong. So much like even some of the biggest names. That's why they recommend doing blind tastings is because what you think is your favorite will be your favorite. Thank you No, you don't.

Randy  05:00

So for this one, I don't like the nose very much at all. It's got kind of like a very medical, medicinal and alcohol flavor to it. It's kind of astringent, but it shows up in your palate, and it doesn't taste at all like that.

Kyle  05:13

I like the body a lot. It's higher proof, I think, than the ones we've had before, I would guess. And it's much more viscous. Look at the legs on it.

Randy  05:20

It's got legs, but it translates to a great mouthfeel. Yeah,

Kyle  05:23

it does felt like it has

Randy  05:24

the least amount of mouthfeel of what we've tasted. Oh,

Kyle  05:26

really? Oh, that was the last one.

Randy  05:30

For those of you who don't know, we are doing several tastings in a row. It's a good night. Joined by Tim.

Tim  05:37

Yeah, this one I get a lot of fruity notes that I haven't gotten before and then it's still really okay. You can tell because on the finish, it starts to like kind of dry your mouth out a little bit. Yeah. Which is from all the tannins from the yoke. Cool.

Kyle  05:53

I'm totally getting that. We met. Oh, interesting. What do you think it does have like a kind of grain in quality that I associate with weighted bourbons.

Randy  06:03

We did bourbons just have like, like a beer flavor to me. This doesn't have that. For me. This is very precise for me like the first first one we tasted was just like everywhere and your palate is tingling and tasting. The second one was a little bit more honed in but still like complex. This one does. I want to say the least amount as far as flavor profile, but it's got the brightness that Tim's talking about. It's got the it's almost light. I'm

Kyle  06:32

gonna, the more I drink, the more I drink it the more I think it's a raw or, or a very high rye bourbon. I'm probably going to be proved wrong. But that's what I'm getting. Tim,

Randy  06:43

what are we drinking? Drummer. So

Tim  06:45

would you believe me if I told you wild turkey 101. All right.

Kyle  06:49

I wouldn't believe you I guess. Yes.

Tim  06:51

From Japan from this age. 12 years. So what these distilleries do is they when bourbon wasn't big in America, they ship things over to Japan. So there's special releases over in Japan, and one of them is wild turkey. 101 H 12 years. People have gone crazy for it. You can only get it over there. People have started buying it and shipping it back here because in Japan, it's a $50 bottle. Here in America. It's $150 a bottle.

Kyle  07:23


Randy  07:23

it's got no Japanese whiskey and no,

Tim  07:27

it's solely just fully done in Kentucky from wild turkey. But it is a Japanese only Asian. Only distribution. Wow.

Randy  07:38

I like it. That's very good. It's far better than me. Well, Turkey have had before. Well, besides the wild turkey that he sold us as well. I

Kyle  07:45

suppose. That's fair. You sent us a 13 year old wild turkey. That was quite good. Yeah. Yeah.

Randy  07:49

I would take that one. But this is delicious. And very, I think subtle. I think

Kyle  07:54

it is. Yeah, but also approachable. So do you happen to know what the mashbill is?

Tim  08:00

It should it's just the regular wild turkey. mashbill for wild turkey. I don't know that off the top of my head. One more time. Tim.

Randy  08:07

What are we what we're drinking?

Tim  08:09

We're drinking wild turkey. 101. Age 12 years Japanese. Cheers.

Randy  08:14

Thank you, Tim. Carolina, sir, thank you so much for joining us on a pasture and a philosopher walk into a bar. Thanks so much for having me. You guys. Yes. Keri for listeners who don't know exactly who you are. Could you just tell us who you are, what you do where you are all the goods?

Keri  08:49

Sure. I'm Keri Ladouceur. I'm coming at you from Raleigh, North Carolina. My family and I just relocated here over the summer from Chicagoland. I have been a pastor like vocationally for the last 18 years or so full time in the church. And now I am the executive director but really like CO cultivator of this thing called the post evangelical collective and that's my full time job and I get to do it alongside some incredible people. Yeah,

Randy  09:17

you do. So I told everyone in the introduction that we're friends and you know have been introduced to you because of the post evangelical collective. But I want to begin in the beginning of your journey as far as your church journey your ministry journey said 18 years Well, I don't know if Willow Creek is the beginning but let's begin at Willow Creek in the in the belly of the beast, if you don't mind. What's your journey been like leading and pastoring in the evangelical church, your time in Willow Creek, all of the things before you were post Evangelical, what was your world like?

Keri  09:50

Yeah, I didn't know what Willow Creek was. When I went to interview there. I was married to a man who was going to do an internship and seminary there. And so He had this is a really crass thing am I allowed to be crass?

Randy  10:06

Yeah, I'd love Christmas people who worked at Willow

Keri  10:08

used to talk about something they called the willow woody like people what does it mean? They just got really excited you flagship Evangelical Church in North America and it has shaped the church all over the world. So it's like a people got really excited about well, I, I had like, not I had grown up in and out of the church, I found my way back to God, Adam Southern Baptist, like pretty conservative church in Florida. I really quickly kind of turned my life in a different like, reoriented my life in a different direction. I married a guy who worked there. He was a youth pastor. He wanted to be a pastor. And so he had known of Willow Creek forever. I was brand new to this like subculture, super conservative church there. And then we went to Willow Creek, which let women lead and called Women pastors and had women elders, and I would even say, had like a more expansive view of the gospel than the one that I was given at that white conservative Southern Baptist Church. And so I went to Willow. And really it was for this man I was married to to go to seminary and become a pastor. And I in the interview process for that got a job there and started working in student ministry. I did the high school ministry for awhile, and then adult ministry and I spent, like, over 12 years working in leading ministries at Willow Creek.

Randy  11:33

So 12 years no, Willa Woody, but yeah. So you work for? Probably, I think you're right, one of one of if not the most prominent evangelical churches in the country. And when did you begin to know that you might not be able to continue in the evangelical tradition? What was that journey like for you?

Keri  11:53

Yeah. I think I want to say like, I'm really grateful for the ways that I was, I think I'm really grateful for the ways that I was formed there. There were some things about my experience at Willow that really expanded my understanding of the gospel, like towards an orientation towards justice, and maybe even a nod towards mutuality. And there were some things that expanded about my understanding of the gospel. But I also had like a really painful experience of injustice there. And so while I was formed in some significant ways, I just like through discernment, decided I needed to speak up about this injustice with the leader who was leading the church and really was like, gutted in that process. The best way I can describe it, is that how that organization walked with me revealed that they didn't really believe the things that they espoused, because they violated everything that they said they believed by how they treated me through that. And so that was like a, like a demolishing of this paradigm, this faith paradigm that I had that just didn't hold up anymore after my experience of the people leading it. So that was the end of evangelicalism, I guess for me,

Kyle  13:06

how did you at the time understand what evangelicalism was like, when when you were experiencing the demolishing? What was the thing that you were experiencing being demolished? Does that make sense? Was it Willow Creek? And that's just all I know, about evangelicalism? Or was it something bigger than that?

Keri  13:20

This is a really interesting question that I'm even still sort of wrestling through like it was a paradigm that I was in, but I, I still left really compelled by the person of Jesus. And so I wanted to figure out, Could I could I define what that means, or figure out what it means to follow Jesus out when this whole thing fell apart? And I think in that what I would say today that I didn't know at the time or couldn't articulate at the time is that I do. I think that's a whole it's a value proposition of what the gospel even is. That's a flimsy House of Cards, and is not the good news of the gospel. Like, it's more than Willow Creek, but it's this like paradigm of faith in this value proposition about what it means to be a Christian and like the whole thing. There's a couple threads that you can pull on and the whole thing unravels. So now I would say evangelicalism is like, a pair of faith paradigm. Did I answer your question?

Kyle  14:17

It's getting closer. So you use the phrase value proposition which I only hear in corporate contexts, which might tell me something about? Yeah, yeah. So how would you define the value proposition of evangelicalism, then the the thing that you pull out and it all crumbles and what what do you have to replace it with? That can be two answers if you want. I think

Keri  14:40

that well, it's probably a couple because the threads could be lots of different things. But I think the value proposition is this sort of fear based, shame oriented, hell avoidance strategy that really separates what happens here and now. It's like life insurance to go to heaven later. And here's a list of things you gotta do to kind of get in and hold on to that. It's it's just it's a hell avoidance, shame based sort of fear oriented way of offering people salvation. That's how I would define what that one was. Yeah. So when you evaluate opposition part, I guess it's like a spiritual prosperity gospel. If you do this, and this and this, this is

Kyle  15:23

funny, because a lot of those people would totally disavow the prosperity gospel. Sure, sure. Sure. Yeah. They just have a different version of it. Maybe? Yeah, I came out of the prosperity gospel. So that hits home for sure. Okay. That was a whole nother story. So your head of an organization called the post evangelical collective? I'm gonna have more questions about that later. But seems like you would need a pretty clear idea of what the evangelical part of that means to be posted. So So what is different about what the collective is doing? That is, you know, a different value proposition, as you would say.

Keri  15:57

Yeah, I guess the value proposition part is what I wanted to say is at the core, like kind of how I would distill down evangelicalism and one of the differences. What's interesting is like historically and culturally, it's a subculture in North America, evangelicalism is it's a it's a become a voting party, become a like a force and a lot of ways. I mean, we could unpack what evangelicalism is, I think you're inviting me to talk more about what post evangelicalism is. But I want to say it's bigger than just that value proposition, right, like a dog lism as a subculture that's held significant power and influence in our country and is held together by a particular doctrinal statements. And like, we can talk about what that is. I think what's happening in the post evangelical space is, I guess I would say, I think in the last seven or eight years, specifically, there's been like a revealing of what that whole system was of evangelicalism. And it's a group of people that are trying to discern together, what does it look like to follow Jesus? What is the good news of the gospel? What is the potential of the redemptive community, the beloved community? What is the church supposed to be? I think it's people that are reimagining a different ethic or a different value proposition, if you will. That is distinctly not what that one was, I think, and so post evangelical collective may not be our name forever, but right now it describes what we're saying. We are outside of we want to move beyond and many people in this space not all were formed by evangelicalism.

Randy  17:31

So speaking of being formed by evangelicalism, Kyle jumped ahead a little bit, but that's okay. But I want to flesh out a little bit, some more of that time at Willow Creek, because it was not just like, you getting disillusioned with evangelicalism, some real stuff went down, right? You start out by saying, Willow is a church is an evangelical church that affirms women in leadership and what calls women pastors. Right. And I remember, I don't know how long ago was, you probably know, because you were probably on staff when Bill said his successors would be male and female co lead pastors, right. I remember being like damn way to be Bill Hybels. That's cool, you know? Yeah, yeah. comes across as this champion of women. But now we all know that that's not exactly the case there was other things going on. Can you describe it all Keri with without like, re traumatizing without going into details that you're uncomfortable with just what was that season like and what tell us about that as much or as little as you want to?

Keri  18:35

Yeah, I mean, I'm willing to talk about any of that I think what's so what's so fascinating to me is that we could say like Bill up here to do all of this stuff or when they actually did like the reason that there are women in the pulpit the reason that there aren't like it was this was a paradigm changing like very progressive thing that he did which when you start to look at like the power dynamics of it then he also he had that favor right like I think that's part of what kept women silent for so long because of the risk if they spoke up and there was again almost a value proposition of like but look at all the good he's doing. I mean, that's what people said over and over and over again even outside of just the good he's doing for women it's like but look at all the goodwill Oh did and they want to write off all the harm like that's okay because look at the good that it accomplished. So I think I think that power because he knew he was so such a forerunner in this is a part of what held this very like fractured thing together for so long because women didn't speak up because they knew it would set women back if they did. Explain that. Yeah, I guess when there's like, it's not equitable, and somebody is advocating for you, but also trying to benefit like I don't know when that exactly started for him, but at some point, it will The power that he was able to build, and he put women in very vulnerable positions, women who were not allowed to say, I mean, my job was reporting to him part of the onboarding to report to Bill Hybels and I had not. He had not led a ministry directly for more than 30 years. And then he decided he wanted to be my boss and oversee the area that of ministry that I lead. And part of the onboarding toward for Bill is that you do not tell Bill now.

Kyle  20:24

Like that's explicit in the onboarding, like from

Keri  20:28

HR, the HR director told people you don't tell Bill No. And it's like you when you got an email from Bill, you respond, right? Like there's all of this. There's all of these dynamics that for many, many, many years leading up to this, and this is after reports had been made, that that was still part and that was to men and women that wasn't just a women don't have to know. But it was just like, in general, he had such a, an influence and a force and a power, about all these ways that they will always do a good or it was a big deal. But when you talk about the dynamics with women specifically. And I think some of the women that spoke up have said they have really had to wrestle with the fact that they benefited, right from Bill being this foreigner on this conversation. And then also spoke up and, you know, some would say hurt him, but spoke up and revealed some of the realities that he would prefer stayed hidden. And that came at a cost to him. And so even that what that does to you, psychologically, the loyalty to break you know, of speaking up at all. It was a lot for me to process on my end to even decide to say something. And I had no idea what that was going to lead to. When I did. Yeah,

Kyle  21:41

were you the first?

Keri  21:43

No, several, no, like, years before I said anything. Apparently there was a whole thing. Women had spoken up. There had been reports there had been investigations, the same investigator that they hired to investigate my claims, who flew on a private plane to my city and threatened to me, literally, literally said, You are either lying, or like I'm making this up or being dramatic. Some people in the executive team said that I was being paid to make up these stories like that John and Nancy or Berg were paying me to make up these stories or that Nancy beach offer could make my career if I spoke up I mean, like, you guys, I had a friend in the last couple of years reach out and say that the Hybris family paid him to create blogs and fake Twitter accounts to put stories out defending bill and calling out on Ortberg. And other people that are this is a friend of mine who came to me and apologized for receiving money from the hybrid family for doing that. Like the layers of cover up and malicious calculated self protection. And that's what I would say one of the systems that runs evangelicalism is patriarchy, which is a self perpetuating, self protecting system.

Kyle  23:08

So would you describe Willow Creek, despite its appearances as patriarchal, certainly,

Keri  23:14

and more progressive than other church bases? So when you find yourself in the undertow of a system, you learn to take bread crumbs and celebrate bread crumbs, because you are hungry at the other tables. So you show up there and it's like, oh, but I get to I get to be in the room at this meeting, or I get to have a seat at the table at this meeting or so it's like it was progressive patriarchy. SyroPhoenician SyroPhoenician. Woman patriarchy.

Kyle  23:45

Yeah. So do you think the theology was just a lie?

Keri  23:49

Um, I don't know, because the theology went bigger. And further than just a woman like, this is the thing that's so nuanced and complex about stuff like this is Willow Creek, introduced me to an organization called tell us, which is a peacemaking organization engaged in the Middle East pro Israeli pro Palestinian pro peace exists to help us reflect on like Evangelical, the implications of evangelical theology and what's playing out in the Middle East. I've been a part of that ministry. For 12 years, I chaired the board of that organization like I have been changed. It was like a second conversion for me to have that experience. And that was a partner at Willow Creek that will help start that was all about justice. And like, in a lot of ways, they put their money where their mouth was when it came to justice. And like that was so expensive for me to understand, and I think since then, have expanded more, but it was like it was formational the things that they said they believed and the ways that they embodied those values was formational for me, for a long time. So I think it's hard to just like black and white say no. But certainly there were areas that their actions did not match their words. And that's just a real violation of our integrity. And I think the fruit of that is what was borne out in this situation, right? The when, when we don't behave the ways that we say we believe.

Kyle  25:13

There are several recurring themes on our podcast, and probably the main one is intellectual humility. And it comes up every time. Every time we talk about evangelicalism, it's probably the primary reason both of us eventually left it is because there isn't any. Or there's a real short, very little, very little, actual, genuine intellectual humility. So I was gonna ask that, was that your experience as well? Because when you're describing Willow Creek, it just sounds like there probably wasn't any at all. But even when you think the phrase you use was people didn't speak up, because it would set women back if they did, which I understand in that context, and that's totally valid. But like, in general, it No, it wouldn't, because this is one church, and it's not that insignificant. So but to be in a place where a claim like that would be not just reasonable, but obviously true, tells you something about the level of humility in that space.

Keri  26:05

I think what's missing from that piece, though, the intellectual humility, I want to come back to if we can in the that part of it within evangelicalism. I think what is hard, like what's worth naming is it did set women back even the women reporting abuse. I sat in a conference in the last three years where someone said if we let women lead within this denomination, that are not married to the pastor, women that are not who are not married to the pastor, lead and be on staff, we're going to have situations like what happened at Willow Creek emerge. Like people have not excavated the roots of what happened at Willow. And just on the broad scale. I mean, I guess within evangelicalism, there are less women like it did disempower women and set the conversation back many years. I mean, even what happened with the lead pastor, the woman who was supposed to lead, like, because of the influence of that church, I do think it said shockwaves that put women back I heard people in chat room saying like, this is what happens when you let women lead or blaming the women even for what happened. Like, I just, yeah, I don't want to miss that. I do think that was part of the cost, even for what, what played out there and the way that it did. Yeah,

Kyle  27:18

that's fair. So about the intellectual humility thing, what was your further thought about that? You guys

Keri  27:25

say that we lack intellectual humility within evangelicalism. Is that right? You guys taught that has

Kyle  27:30

been my overwhelming experience.

Keri  27:34

I think what's I think that's my experience, too. And maybe this is broader than Willow because Willow didn't exactly like even elevate intellectual rigor. Like that was just not like if you went to seminary, it was like, not a good like. And I think that's what what's interesting about evangelicalism is it's unclear in some spaces, what holds it together until you bump up against it.

Kyle  27:53

Yeah. Do you think that's true? Yeah, I think that's very true. Yeah. So

Keri  27:57

I just had a conversation with a friend who was just talking about, like a big name guy within evangelicalism. I don't know, I don't know how much you guys don't want names. But he was like, this guy that one time when he was an evangelical pastor, he used to wanted to preach like him, which I was like, Oh, I didn't know guys get to choose. Like, I didn't know this is a thing that you're like. Yeah. deconstruction friend who got followed by that guy, and was like, I think it was a hate follow. And I was like, what if it was a love, follow? What if he follows you? And he's like, Man, this dude is free. Like, this guy gets the gospel, and he gets to live it and he is stuck in the system of cognitive dissonance. Like I cannot wrap my head around how inconsistent the hermeneutic is within evangelicalism. And how do these really, really smart guys stay in that system of cognitive dissonance when it's like, unless there's something like very disconnected in here, I think that's the only way to live in cognitive dissonance is if you're disconnected from yourself, maybe live sort of disassociated or numb or like, and I just talked to so many pastors in that system who feel that way, who are like reading by Brian McLaren, and like tucking it in their drawer and shutting off like shutting that before they open their office door for a staff member to come in, like you're locked in this, like black and white cut and dry, no nuance system. And I think at some point, you realize that doesn't apply to actual life or ministry or the text. And then if you stay in it, you have to have some form of cognitive dissonance to stay in it. Does that do you? What are your thoughts on that?

Kyle  29:24

That's been Yeah, that's been my experience as well. Although, for every person I know that I think probably as locked in some cognitive dissonance. There are two or three others who seem to really be true believers. And there doesn't seem to be. Yeah, yeah. There doesn't seem to be any distance at all. Maybe they're just better at hiding. I don't know. Yeah, but you can. I mean, self deception can go all the way down.

Randy  29:47

All you got to do is take a look at Christian Twitter and you'll find a bunch of Yeah,

Kyle  29:51

but you know, you can only tell so much about a person from Twitter, but I've lived with people who I think, you know, literally lived under the same roof with people who to this day or Are all the way down convinced and practicing it and it is. It's a consist totally coherent, consistent system for them. Almost without exception, it works to their benefit, right. But, you know, if you're a woman, it doesn't work to your benefit. And I know a lot of women in that position too. So yeah, I think there are many for whom there is dissonance. And honestly, those people are a big part of the reason we do this podcast because I want them to secretly listen to it and experience some some liberation. But the ones I'm thinking of definitely don't listen to this podcast and never will. And,

Keri  30:31

yeah, because we've all gone down, like gone off the deep end and down the slippery slope and all that stuff.

Kyle  30:38

If there's enough of a payoff, or even just too high of a cost, you can stay in it for your whole life. As I'm sure you know.

Randy  30:47

So Keri, we have gone through our own deconstruction and our own just spiritual evolution. I prefer to call it in some ways, but we're white dudes who have never had anything taken from us and like, never really like our faith didn't cost us something. And in general, we had a very privileged kind of deconstruction is what I'm trying to say. You represent a whole bunch of people who don't have that same experience with within evangelicalism, and with this idea of a faith evolution or deconstructing your faith and reconstructing it. So can you just take us inside what is what was that deconstruction journey? Like, when also you mix in abuse, manipulation, disillusionments, you know, lies, all the things that you went through? How does that journey feel? Look? How's it shaped?

Keri  31:44

Yeah. I mean, I guess, it was like, I would be just really candid, it was one of the darkest seasons of my life, you know, like, you could use dark night of the soul or whatever metaphor you want to use. It was like wandering in the desert for years, is what it felt like, that's the best metaphor I've come to. It was lonely. I mean, mine came with such relational loss. Like the people I had done ministry with for 12 years lived in community with like, my kid wore the hand me downs from the HR directors, kids, the woman who was in the room when my kids were born, like, just the, the relational loss was tremendous. And I know people get kicked out of faith communities for a lot of different reasons. And I think it's really hard to understate the loss. For me, there was, you know, emotional loss and spiritual loss, because I sort of saw through this flimsy system, like it didn't hold up, the thing I would have gone to for comfort, and a hard thing didn't hold up anymore. It wasn't a durable hope or faith for me anymore. There was financial loss, you know, there was like credibility and opportunity loss. I don't like want to pretend I had some big reputation. But the reputation that I had was like drug through the mud, I actually had a really good friend and former colleague call and say, Keri, just pull out of this, they're not gonna stop dragging your name through the mud, like, just pull it out. And I was like, you know, what, if you would have spoken up, I wouldn't have to, you saw things, you saw these exact same experiences that I'm reporting and you didn't say anything, and maybe if you would have I wouldn't have to, but if I don't, somebody else will. And I had like, worked that out. Even I had to speak up, I had no idea what speaking up was gonna cost me like not and I was oblivious. I was so naive to that. And actually, after talking to that buddy on the phone, like I got off the phone, and I couldn't sleep, I was like, wrestling with God. And I really, really feel like I sensed like a very clear experience with God, where God was like, you can pull out of this, like, you don't have to do this, and I'm gonna love you no matter what. And if you do, stay in it, like I'm going to use every bit of this, like, none of it will go to waste. And I don't really still don't know what I think about God's sovereignty, but I know I don't think God is the puppet master up there. But I don't think God causes hard to happen but I think I could use any heart in our lives and bring redemptive purposes from them. And so that was my experience over time the reconstructive reconstruction part but the deconstruction was very dark very little. I mean, there were days at the beginning I couldn't get out of bed my sisters like took turns flying in town to be with me because I was like, I couldn't function it was just it was devastating to that kind of level.

Randy  34:32

And so when we talk deconstruction is usually around. Doctrines we don't like Alright Is God ideas? Yeah, super convenient. You're going through this visceral, painful gut punch of a journey. How did how did that feel like was were you questioning everything Christianity itself? Were you questioning? All church like tell us to So, yeah,

Keri  35:01

yeah, I mean everything but like, and so much of that was what drove my life like my just my own kind of get pep in my step, you know, like, get out of bed and go to work. And like that was a part of my paradigm for how I lived. And it was a part of my work. And it was part of my family. I was married to an evangelical pastor. And like, it was just, I had to wrestle with all of that. And I think, I think the thread of whatever launches that process for people is different, but I think it actually impacts sort of every area of life. Like in the last couple of years, I've had to reevaluate how I think about parenting. Because what was given to me in the early years, when my kids were little, I have a lot of regrets about and it was like this very obedience based model of parenting. So it was very dark. And I feel like everything that sort of held my world together had been demolished. And so I sat there in the midst of like, these very shattered pieces, and for me, felt very compelled still by the person in life and ministry of Jesus and like wanted to figure out is there anything here worth redeeming and rebuilding with? But I had to sit in the the mess of it for a while and not just like, yep, something more convenient to hold on to and move on. You know? Yeah,

Randy  36:20

thanks for bringing us into those dark spaces. So tell us then Keri about how you went from needing siblings to fly in to care for you and having everything on done and your world collapsing on you to then what did reconstruction look like for you? What has what made your faith come alive again? What gave you hope for the church? Why are you still working in and for the church?

Keri  36:47

Yeah. I don't know if I recommend this. And I realized this is actually really like privileged as well. But I, I went to seminary to like reconstruct, that was a part of my journey. I'm jumping a little bit here. Like I, I went through this very dark season. And I'm grateful I had a lot of resources therapy and counseling and sisters and family. And I like I said, I was still very compelled by the person of Jesus. And so I started reading, you know, some books on my own. Like some Rachel Held Evans and some Willie Jennings, and I am indigenous, like, First Nation. So I started exploring a little bit of like indigenous theology or indigenous spirituality, I started really wrestling with like, I think I got to a place that I got mad about how the model of faith that I left and that was shattered had so co opted the ways of Jesus. And then, like, wanted to dig my heels in and be like, but because it was like, so clear to me, that is not the church like we have been sold a bill of goods that is not the church, that system, that paradigm that got that value proposition to the Gospel, like all the things that we have named. And so I really just had this passion to like imagine then, what is it if that's not what it is? And that's not the way of Jesus? What is it and decided to go to seminary admits that I mean, I started getting asked to teach at things which was like wild. And I felt like okay, if I go to seminary, I might have a little bit more competence to know what I'm pulling from and like assurance of what I'm teaching, it would take me less time to prep for what I'm teaching, there's not a lot of paths out there that like teach women how to teacher prep, or, you know, so it was like part convenience part. I don't even know if I can get on a stage and talk about these things. When I don't quite know what I believe about them. I'm not gonna say stuff, I don't believe so I went to seminary to like, figure some of that out. And that was a part of my reconstruction journey. And we exposed me to a lot of things I was just telling a friend. Well, it was a good place to work out what reconstruction looks like,

Randy  38:46

in before Kyle jumps in. This is helpful because I know your story a bit. And I've heard you tell stories. I've heard you tell stories about what it's like to be a woman in seminary, even how you were treated by certain professors who we will not mention, but just do you have a story or two? Because I know that there's so many women listening to this episode, and who are just deeply identifying and what was that experience of being a woman in seminary like,

Keri  39:15

Yeah, I'm like laughing answering your question because I I didn't know what I was, like, stepping into by being like, I'm, I'm sure have you thought about that like this, like throwing something out like that? I just I didn't know I really, I didn't know what I was getting into. In the midst of speaking about Willow, I didn't know in a situation like we have, we have such atrophied imagination and interpretation, because it's been done in isolation. And so when you put like women or people of diversity, or a queer person or somebody with a different experience, or you know, like, and I don't mean this harshly towards you guys, but it's been a bunch of like rich, highly educated, straight white guy. I just have been shaping our theology and our imagination for how to read the Bible and you know, for quite a while. And so I would like speak up and say something, and I just had no idea like that was a landmine, to throw out an idea like that or to be like, I don't know if either of you are right, and why does that matter? Or we, there was a conversation in a class, this is the example washer, where the professor had assigned reading from a theologian who has been outed as like a serial abuser, like used his very specific position of power, and the ways that he talked about peace as a part of his theology, to gain access to and take advantage of women. And in my class, this was assigned reading, I was always like, really behind and getting ready for class. So I'm like reading up a last minute, you know, for each of them. And somebody had put a note in the chat, like, who's gonna bring this up? Because I have concerns that we have to read this theologian. And I was like, Oh, God, I don't even know what they're talking about. I like caught up real quick. And I was like, Thank God, they're handling this. And I don't have to say anything. Like that's, that's all days, I don't have to speak up about this. I'm so glad like, I'm, I'm actually tired of having these conversations in the evangelical space. And the professor just proceeds to like, sort of publicly shame and mildly berate the woman that brought something up about it, just like, kind of like whack a mole, like, shot her down. And then somebody else spoke up and said something and then he said something like, sort of exerting his influence in some force, and like, kind of undermining what she said, like smacked her down. And this happens, like five or six times every woman in the class has spoken up, and then like, gotten read, and then started crying, and then stopped talking. And I was like, what is happening? And I leaned in and just started asking questions like, Wait, it's, it sounds like you think that the stories of these women are not credible? Are you thinking this is like an issue of consent, or like, what's the breakdown, and I literally was trying to like, lean in and translate something that was happening the room and I just, I got chewed up for it. And I got, like, I kind of went toe to toe with the guy like not even on purpose, just trying to name so there were lots of just heard things that you stepped into as a woman just by trying to have an opinion or perspective, or like, in this case, seeing something really differently than he had seen it because he had never had an experience of like being on the underside of power or being in a vulnerable position where somebody could take advantage of so in, but that wasn't always the reaction. Sometimes guys were like, Wait, say more and lean in, you know, like my brothers in seminary, my fellow classmates, but there were certainly experiences like that, where like, the experience of a woman was not welcomed to be a part of the discussion. And sometimes it like sucked the air out of the discussion. Because the perspective was so different, or undermining of what they were trying to teach or unpack

Kyle  42:49

is remarkable that you found the resources for reconstruction, despite all that, in that space, Amen.

Keri  42:57

Let me tell you an amazing story, too, though, because it's not all been bad. I think, gosh, we're wired to want to pull from the heart or the bad experiences that have shaped us. And there were some of those that were difficult. I had amazing colleagues, I would call them in seminary like men, guys like you that we got to like, kick around ideas or thoughts or share different perspectives from scholars that we had read. And those were some of the richest parts of being in seminary. That was the thing for me that made it a place to reconstruct as the I got to figure out what I believed. And after taking apart so much of what had been handed to me, that was the richness of seminary for me was to get to figure out what is it that I believe and be exposed to lots of different ways of thinking about things? I do think one of the advantages of being a woman in a space like this, I'm so sorry, you guys is that I have not been cultured and socialized to like need to have the answer, or to need to be right. And I realize how much men are cultured and socialized in that direction. And so seminary was like such a gift for me, because I just got to like, imagine and think and pontificate and learn and be like, Oh, my God, there's seven perspectives on that. That's amazing, actually, that you could have such different thoughts on this. It made the text rich and come alive, to not need to be right and to be exposed to multiple views. And so I had like incredible professors also, that did that. And that did that in the ways that they taught. And some of them that like intentionally reoriented dynamics in the classroom to actually solve and relieve and reorient some of the things I talked about that were that were difficult as well. So seminary was a great place for me to reconstruct and expose me to a lot. Yeah,

Kyle  44:36

that's, that's great. I'm glad you shared the positive side of it, too. That's really encouraging. I think that is the way one should approach higher education of any form. It's much better than trying to just own whatever the topic is and prove your view to two quick follow ups on how quick they'll be to follow ups. First, do you think that there is a normative way to reconstruct or to or maybe even Just to recover from deconstruction.

Keri  45:02

Yeah, I think the binary black and white sort of cut and dry, linear way that evangelicalism likes to approach things would love to try to prescribe something like that. And I do not think that it exists like a pattern oriented linear way to reconstruct, I actually don't even think that you can have the expectation that everyone will. I think what pulls the thread that makes it unravel is so different for everyone. Like my experience is unique of what that sort of inciting incident was. for me. I think it's different for everyone. And so I think the reconstructing or rebuilding, if people choose to engage that is really unique and complex and dynamic and different for everybody. Yeah.

Kyle  45:46

And then second thing is, correct me on this. But that's just been my experience. I know this is limited. And I know it can't just be this way. But of all the people I've spoken to including on this podcast, who have reconstructed back into some form of faith, it doesn't even have to be Christianity, just some form of something they would consider faith. That the way that it has happened has been cognitive. They have thought they have thought their way back into it. Oh, interesting. I haven't. Maybe I'm just wrong about this. And I'm not recollecting off the top of my head, but I don't remember talking to anyone who had, for example, just some sort of totally non cognitive spiritual experience. And that gave them a new kind of faith that they would, you know, consider religious, I'm sure that happens, it must happen. But in my experience, people who have deconstructed out of evangelicalism and then back into something else, it is still very much a an intellectual thing,

Keri  46:43

that I that I miss tons of parts of my own story, because that was a tremendous part of my own story, like spiritual awakening.

Kyle  46:49

Tell me about that part.

Keri  46:53

So I shared even like that story, in the midst of the will of stuff of experiencing God, like wrestling through how devastating this was, and my anger towards God and my frustration, and like, why is this and what's going on? What Where the hell are you and I had this experience of like, like, I experienced God, like the voice or the presence of God and an image that went with it. That was very specific to where I was standing when I had this moment. And I would, I could tell you, like a dozen other stories very similar to that of like, the very real tangible, visceral experience of God through that season. That like, I would sound like a crazy person actually unpacking one of them. I like want to get a picture right now. They're like moments that marked me that compelled me to even take that journey of trying to discover Jesus or go to seminary. And then as I put together a more indigenous, more authentic, more visceral and real spirituality in my very humanity. Very little bit of my faith paradigm now is cognitive. Yeah, like that's the that was the part I sucked at the most, the seminary reconstruction part, planting in my garden and taking walks and decolonizing my mind and no longer running my life on dopamine and adrenaline and adrenal fatigue and fight or flight and like that was a part of my healing, I think coming out like, like physical healing my nervous system and changing the rhythms by which I live are a part of my spirituality, how I like what I eat, how I feel my body, I fast once a week, and like experience God in dreams when I do like, it's, it was it's been way more embodied than cognitive. Love it, which I guess is really fascinating as I answer your question, because Seminary is the thing that I went to, because maybe that's the thing that gives my reconstructed face some credibility.

Kyle  49:00

Oh, interesting. Yeah. Now that isn't, we could unpack that.

Keri  49:06

That's coming up in me as I'm telling you. I know. That's probably why I went there. But that was the least transformational part of my

Kyle  49:11

journey. Okay. Okay. Thank you for that. That's really helpful to contextualize Yeah, yeah.

Randy  49:17

I wonder what it is about men and women that I feel like women have one of the many gifts that women have to give the church is an A more embodied spirituality. Way more comfort in your own body and your own self in

Keri  49:33

intuition inside that women are given is special.

Randy  49:43

That's fun. Okay, we could literally go in several different directions. We're gonna keep to the two hour conversation. I'm excited to talk about the fun part. And here is the fun part. Tell us about the post evangelical collective Keri.

Keri  49:55

Yeah, I will try to give you the really short version, but Essentially, just in the last couple of years, I found myself having lots of conversations with pastors and denominational leaders and ministry leaders and Christians that were really wrestling with like what had been illuminated and evangelicalism, many people trace it back to 2016. Yeah, people have different

Kyle  50:17

why what happened in

Randy  50:18

2016? I don't understand.

Keri  50:22

Or 2013 Or sorry, I talked to ministry, like many ministry leaders, pastors, so many leaders that were struggling with a witness of the church in the West like struggling with that vision and aversion and paradigm of evangelicalism. And my friend Mike Goldsworthy was like leading some cohorts out on the West Coast and just found a similar theme of like wrestling's and questions. And he said, two and a half years ago, hey, what if we just had like a roundtable, you know, 20 people would come and we could talk about like a different way for the church or reimagining the church. And I had started a ministry called new ground network and did like coaching and consulting with some churches and pastors and denominations trying to reimagine the church. And when I did work with an evangelical organization, they paid me and I put the money towards like a non traditional, affirming church plant or experiment like this. So Mike was like neural network could fund this roundtable, we'll have 20 people come together, we'll talk about what this could look like, the future of the church, and we have 125 People like register to come like overnight, it went from this roundtable to like, Okay, this is a conference, this is people wanting to explore. This is resonating with people in some way that very scattered, we did in South Bend, Indiana, and I just describe it as it felt like a cold glass of water in the wilderness. Like that sort of felt like being there meeting other people who are on a similar journey. Maybe who didn't quite identify as like extra angelical. Like didn't want to necessarily burn it down and empty the pews, but had left evangelicalism and we're longing for something different. And and many, like on a what felt like a similar journey. And so we left that gathering just discerning like we should try to, together faithfully cultivate or faithfully steward what the Spirit is doing here. Like, this is something special, let's follow up with people. Let's connect them with some resources. Everybody's like, how do you do kids ministry in a way kids don't have to deconstruct their faith when they grow up, you know, there's like, there's a need. And so we're kind of building this web connecting people in relationship, discerning together, should we what do we do here? We decided to do a second gathering last year in October in Denver, Colorado, and had 150, you know, artists, pastors, leaders, stakeholders in the church, some scholars, there's several sort of theologians that are poking around now like, Oh, this is really interesting, and we want to contribute. And I was actually talking with two of them this week. It's very exciting, but can

Randy  52:48

name drop?

Keri  52:48

What's that?

Randy  52:50

I said, you can name drop, it's okay.

Keri  52:51

Well, Tom, ord was one of them. Have you guys had him on?

Randy  52:54

Yeah, we have. Yep.

Keri  52:55

It was super fun. Just talking about our gathering mixture. We're gonna host another post evangelical gathering. But I mean, more than just those gathering spaces. I think I tell that story just to frame like, it's, it's this growing contingent of people who have been disenchanted with evangelicalism have many deconstructed, but there's like this special redemptive kind of thread of its people that still deeply, deeply believe in the redemptive potential of the beloved community and like, want to be a part of a different way of being the church a different way of following Jesus. And so we're trying to connect people who are already doing it like so they're less alone and trying to resource and there's a need for resources in this space. I don't want to I don't want to build an empire like evangelicalism, but I do hope we can sort of cultivate like an ecosystem of shared resources and spaces to learn from one another. Books on marriage and mutuality. And, you know, there's, there's like a need for Jesus way that's different than what's out there right now. So we imagined resourcing as well, and then want to launch more post evangelical churches over time. So it's this group of people that are kind of exploring a better way to follow Jesus. A different way to follow Jesus, maybe better is not the worst.

Kyle  54:12

Yeah. So how do you think of what the mean Collective is kind of a vague term, but maybe that's by design, or by necessity? Like, is this pre existing churches who just got together and we're like, we like this idea, let's hang out? Is this new churches that you're planting? Is this a denomination? What what do you what is this?

Keri  54:30

Oh, it's such a good question. I mean, that's what's so wild. And I mean, it's like an inter denominational kind of movement of churches. The ones that exist, I think we have 50 or 60 on the website right now that are like have been in existence or have been launched this year. I think there might even be a new one that's like getting ready to launch that's listed on there. Some of them are mainline churches, like I just heard from a Lutheran pastor who wants to be a part of the post evangelical collective we were like I guess this gets at what I was just talking about a bit. As we were sort of forming from this organic like collective of people meeting and gathering. Last year, we decided to become sort of a formal 501 C three, we turned new ground network into this 501 C three. We didn't want to create like new doctrinal statements that would hold us together, because my indigenous spirituality does sort of point to like, you can tell what people believe by how they behave. And so we really wanted to shape this around like just some core values that we want a covenant to live into together. So it's been very broad, sort of the Christians and the leaders in the types of churches that those values resonate with. And I think that's really what we hope that it will be is this broad collection where we can learn from one another, and a lot of our mainline friends are like longing for what they would call spiritual revitalization. And I think they bring such a rich history to this movement. And so I think there's like a reciprocity there for how we could move forward together learning from one another. And that's what they're asking us for. And that's what we're wanting to partner and like, help cultivate together. So mainline churches, some independent churches that would like maybe were evangelical and have transitioned to be more post Evangelical, there's at least a handful that have planted sort of as post evangelical churches, they planted with a different framework and a different value proposition or a different vision, you know, for what the church was intended to be. Yeah.

Kyle  56:31

So what are I'm sure people could just go to the website and find out. But for people who are curious, what are some of those core values that you have in lieu of a doctrinal statement? Yeah,

Keri  56:39

we have five that we just felt like, Okay, if we could simmer this down to like, people who want to embody these and be a part of this, and it's like Jesus centered the life. Ministry, teachings of Jesus are really what drive us what we longed to embody and to be to practice together. It's a holistic view of justice. So to understand that as part of the gospel is a holistic justice, both individually and collectively, that we would pursue holistic justice together, there's internal sort of liberation, but there's also collective liberation. That's a fruit of what holistic, restorative, not retributive justice looks like not I'm probably giving you bigger definitions that are on there, oh, Jesus centered, Justice oriented, fully affirming. So like anybody can be a part of these irrespective of ability, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, like there's nothing that holds somebody back from fully affirming, fully celebrated is really the goal of that face spaces of mutuality and flourishing. The fifth one that has its shaped by like, deep and wide spiritual formation, so wanting to pull from lots of different Christian traditions, lots of different schools of thinking when it comes to spiritual formation. And even what we're trying to get at with that is like even people hold the text differently in this space, like how they experience in, sort of seek to apply the text, there's a wide range. And the fifth one is a gracious posture. So it's really like Jesus centered, Justice oriented, fully affirming faith, spaces of mutual mutuality, and flourishing with deep and wide spiritual formation. But we don't want to become the good news, Christians, which is why evangelicals set out to do, we don't want to imagine that we hold the corner, the good news or the gospel, or even that it's up to us to decide who's in and who's out or other. The others. I mean, many of us were like, kicked out of tables for what we believed or who we let in. And so to them to keep other people out, feels like it sort of violates that or recreate some of those systems and structures. So we really want to hold a gracious posture and not imagine that we have the corner on the gospel or what the church should be. And I think there's like a humility. I mean, Grace, a gracious posture, but a humility that we hope to hold in this space. Yeah,

Kyle  58:59

grace and humility are deeply connected. I think I have a few more difficult questions. I don't know if I should go into those now, or do you have any follow ups?

Randy  59:09

I do. But why don't you ask your difficult?

Kyle  59:12

They're not that difficult. They're just a little more challenging. But I know you have ready answers for them. I know this is not the first time you've thought about any of these. So you said a little so you've called this thing the post evangelical collective right. And then you just said there are some mainline people who are interested. And that's really intriguing to me, I was actually going to ask you, what is your relationship with mainline Christianity? And you said something earlier about maybe it won't always be that maybe won't always be called that. So is this thing a little bit reactionary? And if not, how do you avoid that? Or do you see it eventually morphing into something else?

Keri  59:49

Yeah. I think the Morph part is a part of what we really want to hold on to. Like this isn't just evangelicalism that's become affirming and talking about justice. Seems like we want to continue to evolve. I do think that's a part of like the ethos of what we want to hold on to. Could it be reactionary? Certainly. And it might be I do think it is a response. I hope it's not a reaction. I hope it's a group of people that have done a little bit deeper excavating to move out of fight or flight sort of reactivity and are moving into how do we actually respond and not even try to critique I think the best critique of the old is to just reimagine and build the new and let that naturally critique the old like, I don't actually want to sit around and get in the ring with Evangelicals and try to call them out or telling them that they're wrong. I just want to reimagine a different way that actually, that's a more durable, hope filled way that doesn't spiritual bypass, spiritually bypass like reality. Yeah. And let that speaks for itself. So but it might be reactionary, I hope that it's more positioned as a response or an invitation even to some redemption and restoration there. I don't think the name will stick forever. But I think we'll change the name and it won't be post evangelical forever. What's interesting is we've had some mainline folks say like, Oh, I was never I never called myself an Evangelical, but I can see all the ways evangelicalism has shaped mainline churches, just the like system and structure and kind of paradigm. I'm so grateful for the ways that it hasn't, you know, the liturgy and the ancient roots and that like, there's a lot that evangelicalism didn't touch her, or maybe, and I'm glad that those parts we still get to benefit from. The thing that's interesting is I also have some mainline friends who will say I was never evangelical. And I don't know if I fit, I don't know if I belong in this. And I'm like, Cool, cool, you decide like, we're not going to try to convince you. But where that language has been the most interesting is to the watching world, like I was I was a pastor and pushing my kid on the swing at the playground at a school and the dad, you know, next to me, he's like, chatting it up. And I said, I was a pastor, and he was like, Wait, like, an evangelical pastor. And this is in like, probably six or eight months isn't last year. But he in his mind, he's thinking of what happened at the Capitol. And he's like, Are you one of those people like to the watching world, that's not a part of this culture, evangelical Christian is like, that carries a lot of connotation. And so it's actually been like a wild, interesting thing that to be able to say post evangelical actually resonates with people and sort of causes them to lean in like, Oh, so you're a Christian. But you're not that tell me more. It won't do that forever. But right now, the name accomplishes on the end, what what I love about this is just our story. Not we never set out to start something. Yeah, something started and we felt like we were supposed to steward it. And so we never sat around. And we're like, What should we name this organization? It was like, Well, everybody's calling it post Evangelical, because that's what it is. So like, we should probably call it that, at least for the first at least for what we're doing now. So I don't know how much runway we'll get out of him. But right now, it's descriptive, and it resonates and like, nobody chose it. It was given to us.

Kyle  1:03:08

That's great. And I should maybe say I have no issue with the response that yes, it is reactive, and some things need to be reacted to.

Keri  1:03:16

And I think only the I hope I didn't sound defensive in my hands.

Kyle  1:03:19

No, no, no, no,

Keri  1:03:21

I think only like at some point in time, we'll look back and know was it reactionary? You know,

Kyle  1:03:27

and was it an important invaluable reaction? Okay. Difficult question number two. So, so besides you who are the other people leading this collective? And what should lead the average deconstructing post evangelical Christian, to trust you guys, more than they trust the religious leaders that they've been harmed by?

Keri  1:03:51

Yeah. The first question is very easy. It's like it's such a broad collective of people. That kind of co founders, I guess would be myself, Kevin Ha, Zack Lambert and Mike Goldsworthy alongside Amy McCall and Shawn Palmer and Jason Miller and Justin Morgan and Michael Hidalgo and Gail song Bantam and like this whole kind of group of people that were just a part of the evolution of early cohorts, the first gathering, the second gathering, somewhere along the way, they would gushy, who is a Christian ethicist, like heard about what was happening and wanted to be a part? When we formalized and became a 501 C three, we hit transition new ground network and like that board over to this new organization and a new board those some of those names I named became the board members have like the fiduciary responsibility. But we felt like in this space more than just what we do how we do it really matters and we want to be held accountable to the house as much as the what. And so we put together what we call a wisdom board like that are also helping to walk with us. so they don't hold the fiduciary like working day in and day out, but they're walking with us and guiding us and that's like a really diverse group of people Dr. Angela Parker, who wrote a book called if God still breathes, so I can't I brilliant Liberation's kind of theologian teaches that Mercer seminary, Dr. Salah Gary, who runs an organization called centerpiece helping churches think through and families think through how to be more loving and inclusive and celebratory of our queer siblings. Dr. Peter Choi, who runs a an organization called the Center for peace and justice and is doing really brilliant sort of engaging, you know, holistic justice work. Jonathan Merritt, who is kind of a writer and thinker and imaginative contributor to what it is that we're doing. And then Dr. David gushy, who is an ethicist like Christian ethicist who's paid a great cost to kind of become post evangelical himself, I would say all of these individuals have, but that's like a wisdom board, in addition to the working board all of these people and then this whole other circle of people like Randy and others who are kind of leading like regional areas of post evangelical churches, and we've got like some spiritual directors and some leadership coaches, and like all kinds of this like, ecosystem that's emerging, like a constellation of people that I would say, are also helping to lead. What this is, and what this becomes the second part of that question of why would people trust us or this? I don't know that they would, I don't know that they should. I think we have attempted to sort of decolonize our minds and imaginations about what it is that we're trying to do and how but I know that we will certainly mess up. And I recognize we have been formed by a system that will bring some of those pitfalls. And I hope we handle it better. When we screw up. We're trying to figure out like, just functionally, how do we do finances different, so they're done in a more generative way, in a more transparent way? You know, like, I think that's one of the things that's interesting, too, is right now, nobody has ever taken a salary from the post evangelical collective or from new ground network that got turned into it. So you could like watch how money has been handled. And so I think we're trying to reorient some of the ways that we saw harm be done in significant ways, as we sort of flesh out this organization. I told Kevin and Mike and Zach, when they asked me to be the executive director, as long as they didn't expect that this was going to look sort of capitalistic up into the right success oriented into like patriarchal hierarchical leadership, like, then I would say, yes, if they're open to that, but that's not what I'm interested in leading or running or doing. And they were like, great, that's why we want you to do this. And so I have just felt a ton of empowerment to like, faithfully cultivate what's here and do that collaboratively with a lot of people, we probably could have planted 10 or 12 more churches this year, if we had not been so committed to our values. But we've heard from people that want to plant a post Evangelical Church, and it's like, this is amazing that you align with these and you feel resonance with them. But if you haven't ever, like submitted to a person of color, or worked for a woman, or engaged queer folks on your leadership team, or like, it's possible without the practice of that you could actually do harm and not embody these values. So what are the immersive experiences we can help you have or go through or the leaders we could have you sit under or be formed by or that could maybe help you actually embody these values? If you wait? So we've said, like, we've said, No, in times that it would have been tempting to say, yes, just to like, go up into the right or improve our numbers, or I do feel like I'm just like, listing off like, here are some things that I think make us trustworthy. I recognize that anyone in a position of like authority, and particularly pastoral authority is operating at a significant deficit right now. Probably as they should be, because of the ways that we've seen authority and power held in the world. And I think there's so much being illuminated in the world right now about the underside of power, and about how those systems and hierarchies and patriarchy and white supremacy and those sorts of things have led us to this moment, I think people are really hungry for a different way. I'm not saying we have that or doing that. But we're trying to orient in a different way, because we've seen the toxicity of those types of systems and structures. And we're gonna fumble through it and figure it out as we can.

Randy  1:09:33

Yeah. And let me let me fill in that question a little bit from a person who was on the outside. We're very interested in now. I'm like, I want to be on the inside of that, of that tribe of that circle. I mean, our church felt compelled our church elders felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to become an inclusive and affirming church for queer people. And that was a long drawn out process with lots of fearing trembling, lots of searching the scriptures, lots of prayer, lots of consulting, elders and people full of wisdom beyond, you know our capacity and in what we had in and within us. And we did it. And the church network that we were part of the 24/7 prayer network, which is a global network of prayer and church network. Long story short, very long story short, kicked us out. And basically, like, verbatim told us, if you're an affirming church, you can be friends of 24/7 prayer, not family. And this is a church network in a in a global network that talks about family an awful lot. And so I don't have to tell you how painful that was to hear you can be friends, no family specialties, with how many queer people hear that over and over again, in church spaces. So that sent us off in the disorienting journey of trying to figure out who's our people and who are we and I'm feeling completely alone, really, and especially in a city like Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Milwaukee, you know, leans blue, and is kind of a part of the rust, belt, Union City, all of that, but it's very conservative, culturally and socially. And we're kind of the only show in town as far as like churches that are, I would say, gospel centered, Jesus centered and affirming and inclusive. And I felt like I was in an island and our elders and our leaders felt like we were an island. And then I saw Zach post something about that gathering in Denver, last duck, you know, not last October, two October's ago, and I reached out to him, I was like, Dude, you gotta tell me more. And he told me more. And I found myself at a zoom and met you for the first time and then started actually meeting real people sat down and had dinner with David gushy, and was so impressed by the graciousness, the by the, by the love exchanged by the reception and invitation, given by the listening heart and spirit, by the camaraderie that I found there. In the humility, there's something when somebody goes through being evicted out of a movement that they've kind of given their whole life to, I'm talking about, you Keri, I'm talking about a David gushy I'm talking about many others within this church network, who've lost almost lost everything or had did lose everything enough to bring it build it back. When you have that kind of that person that's been through that kind of thing, who's still able to be generous, kind. listens, is humble, genuinely wants to hear your story and genuinely wants to just receive more of you. That to me, Brian McLaren is another one of these people who he's been through the ringer, of being on the heretic, watch list and told all sorts of terrible things. And he's the most kind, compassionate man I've probably ever met. That, to me has credibility. So that's why I trust the post evangelical collective because of people like Keri and David and Zach, and Mike, and many others who have been through the wringer of religion, and have come out, softer, kinder, gentler, more like Jesus. And I know that there's tons of church leaders, there's tons of people in churches who feel isolated and alone, just like I did, just like our church did. And that's why I'm so excited for the post evangelical collective. It's why I was so excited to have you on Keri, is to share you and to share this movement that's just in the infant stages, like this is gonna be fun to be able to reflect back and maybe have you on in a couple of years and say, Look what Jesus did, right. But to have a group of people like that as well, who've been chewed up and spit up by the church, and still say, I love Jesus, and still say, I'm not giving up on this idea of the church. Like I'm wheeling up with tears right now, because it's so beautiful to me. So there's my answer of why would you trust them? Yep. And that, like I say, there's so many church leaders and church people who are desperate for a group of people to identify with, to listen to be heard by indigenous sit with there was I had this experience where I went, I actually, like went to but also helped host the gathering in Chicago and this last August and it was a beautiful experience. But when you're hosting something you got to be on and we got to make sure that we're on time and make sure that what all the other things that we finished our time with the Eucharist. And it was a Covenant Church we were in the pastor named Peter walked us through the Liturgy of the Covenant Church that we were at. And it just struck me it just immediately invite invited me into the Lord's table in this beautiful way. And but that was it, nothing special, nothing crazy, whatever. But I got into line and this is after being evicted and kicked out of a church network before this. But I got into line and I'm standing in line with these people who I just met, but who are already feeling like trusted friends and who have similar stories and we've, you know, there's been tears shut in the day. And all of a sudden, I just started weeping like, nothing, nothing planned. No, like emotional moment, I just started crying. And I think it was both the power of and beauty of the Eucharist and the Lord's table and the invitation to it. And the profound experience of standing in line with people who you kind of identify with, you don't know. But you're choosing to be family and friends with these people because of Jesus, and because of the grace and love that we've been given. And now you, you're given it by these people, and that Confluence all just led to me just losing it right in the middle of everybody. It's needed. There are other church networks who are doing similar things. And I like praise the Lord for and I hope there's more and more honestly. But I can tell you what's happening with the post evangelical Collective is super timely, really important, and I'm so excited to see what it becomes in humility, hopefully. So there's my commercial Keri.

Keri  1:16:04

You say like, what have you even add to that? Yeah, Dr. gushy commented, he joined us at the second gathering and, like, canceled as international like, moved his family international vacation to come be there. Like it was a big deal for him to want to. And he said, the thing that struck him and made him want to be a part of this is just how, like how redemptive the spirit feels in the room. And that's just how I would describe it like the glass of water in the wilderness that the first gathering in the second gathering, I feel like when you walk through the day, you're lucky to interact with like one or two people who's like, actually alive. They're not like sleepwalking through their life and through their day, and like on their phone, or like hurried or rushed, like who will like be there and be present with you. And I think there's something that happens when you are shattered, like when you are broken open, and you choose to wake up to life, and to not just go back to whatever it was lowly like you can't unsee and you don't want to sleep, walk and live disconnected from yourself and the people around you like something happens. And I feel like being in Denver, and being in Chicago, it's like being in a room full of people who are like bright eyed and present and have been broken open and have picked up the pieces and allowed us to heal something. And I think whether you've been hurt by the church, or whether you were hurt by your family of origin, or whether you were born into like, I think, whatever kind of pain, whether you get divorced or struggle with addiction or lost a baby, like any sort of, I think how we respond to pain either opens us up or shuts us down. And it either becomes if you can lean into healing, and I think Jesus is a part of this. And I'm still not sure what I think about like the physiological part and the spiritual part because I do think they're very connected. But when we lean in to healing, our wounds become medicine. And when we don't, they become poison. And I think this is like a group of people that have leaned in and are experiencing healing and want to like be a part of ushering that sort of healing into the world. And I think that's the call of the gospel is to partner with Jesus, in the redemption and the restoration of all things. I think that's our vocation when we follow Jesus, and you can't be a part of that redemptive healing work if you have not experienced it. And so I think there's something really beautiful that we're I don't think you like arrive and are healed and it's like, now I get to be this like wonderful healer. I think it's a way of living like to pursue wholehearted healing sort of oriented living. And I think that's like a part of the special thing that's been happening in this space is it's people that are reimagining that the good news is that we can have life to the full now that Jesus wants to offer that healing and invite us into healing the world. Yeah.

Randy  1:18:43

So good. Thank you so much, Keri Ladouceur from the post evangelical collective. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. We've had a great time talking.

Keri  1:18:51

Thank you guys so much for having me.

Randy  1:19:08

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Kyle  1:19:24

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Randy  1:19:32

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Kyle  1:19:39

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Randy  1:19:47

See you next time.

Kyle  1:19:48


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