Faith Shifting with Kathy Escobar (#481)

kescobarWhat do you do when the beliefs you were given come unraveled? Kathy Escobar didn't grow up in a believing home, but came to faith at twelve. Like many of us she, too, found a longing in her heart that the religious program she was in could not satisfy. In fact, it often undermined her faith by refusing to let her ask the difficult questions and discover what life in God really meant. She tells her story and offers her help to others in her book entitled Faith Shift. Kathy joins Wayne for a Skype Conversation about the common elements of their journeys and the different spaces they've landed in to discover a rich community of authenticity and engagement. Kathy adds some important pieces to this conversation about creating safe environments to help others face their journey, of the unique challenges women face in our patriarchal religious culture, and the importance of loving people right where they are as they sort out what it means for them to live as God's child in the earth.

Podcast Links:faithshiftcover
Kathy Escobar's website
Purchase her book Faith Shift
Her blog on "Things that Help, Things that Hurt"
The Refuge in Denver, CO and their Invitation to Community
Our latest update from Kenya
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  1. Good interview! I think I found out the hard way what love is NOT from people attending a church building. Once I learned that the way these people were acting and treating me and each other was NOT love, then I came to realize the true love of Jesus and how people can’t compare to that.

    It took me quite some time to really discover that. I’m not talking in the weird freaky way some people play it up. I’m talking about just a simple knowing that he cares for me far and above any person ever could. Realizing that after I left the church building and their bipolar God who gives grace but you have to do certain disciplines. Where you can never quite trust God to love you just as you are, but you have to keep working toward some elusive super spiritual connection.

    The thing that kind of dismays me is the way people try to hang onto religion or church buildings, etc.. They cling to it like a life saver and so they never totally are free of it and they defend it like it is their life. There are people that I love, but they feel they are RIGHT and they are very blunt about it and it is hurtful. It’s like you can’t even have a conversation with them or they are defending the church building or their doctrine etc.. That is part of what I am saying is NOT love, it is control. It’s like they are saying believe my way or we cannot talk and it gets really tense.

    I think if you are associated with a church building it’s like you are kind of responsible for carrying forward THEIR beliefs. That is another reason I want to be separate from the “building” and find a place where we can openly communicate. It sounds good they way Kathy’s group shares.


    • it’s tough dealing with those who want to force their way of god on you whether that’s doctrine or getting you plugged back in. what i have found in most cases is that those who are most aggressive in doing this are many times also the ones dealing with the most doubt in their own minds. it’s like a defense mechanism‚Ķthey are trying to convince themselves that their way of doing things (or seeing things) is right, and you are seen as a threat in that you are adding fuel to their fire of doubt. i have been in the place of being a defensive doubter myself, so i have firsthand experience‚Ķtrying to get people to agree with me in hopes that this would alleviate my doubts.

      • Hi Kent, that is a good point and makes sense. It is like a fear, like if you shatter their paradigm everything would fall apart.

  2. There’s a great statement in the “In Season”: Any act of ministry in the Kingdom of God is not open-ended, continuing until his second coming. God harvests in specific seasons and through specific people. If we recognize this fact we can allow harvest times to come into completion, and then celebrate them and let go.”(This is a beautiful book, by the way- thank you!)

  3. Once again another spot on interview and the journey. Looking foreword to looking at Kathy’s blog. I came out from under a female leader who was doing the same thing that had been done to her. Role reversal. She is blinded still and it is strange to hear her ranting on about others faults when she has the same! She also wanted to get away from the building side and ended up like the Pharisees MATT:23 taking over a widows house for long useless structural, controlling prayer meetings.

    I also saw a documentary today about the way the early Christian institutions treated the Aboriginals in Australia. they were trying to make them “conform” which cruelly ended up killing them and literally torturing them. It actually removed them from God and Jesus. So awful even if the heart motives were in the right place. Jesus would never do these things. But I do find Jesus words and actions actually get neglected when it comes to doctrine and institutions. I am sure this has happened everywhere in the world with the indigenous, this is not to say that there also have been many, many wonderful people who have actually helped by walking with Jesus in love when doing their work.

  4. Finally…this podcast nailed it for me. I was part of a formal church for so long because I thought I’d lose my “salvation. ” I was afraid my doubts would lead me away from Jesus instead of toward Him. I was told leaving the group would be like taking a log ” out of the fire” ….I would not stay kindled because I needed the other flaming logs which equaled formal church meeting. There was no safe place to share doubts, weaknesses, failings. I communicated that same mindset to friends and children who ” left. ” This gave me hope. Thanks.

  5. Loved this podcast and I’ve gotten a lot out of reading Escobar’s book. ¬†It was great to hear a woman talking about how things happen in churches in a way unique to women. ¬†I have Shifted and Returned many times over the last 20 years. ¬†Largely it was my education and profession that started my shift. ¬†How many times have I watched men having the conversations about theological implications and church priorities while the women were in the kitchen or playing with the children? ¬†Way too many! ¬†I happen to have a minor in theology. ¬†What a wierd thing for a Christian woman! (It is scandalous how few women theologians there are! Especially considering that half the population of this planet are women. Surely there must be 10 female Christians who can be trusted to “rightly divide the Word of God”?) ¬†I can definitely identify with the emotional turmoil she described.

    The turning point from Shift and Return for me was “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore”, the God Journey podcast and Engage videos. ¬†You have helped me Shift and Unravel without going to agnosticism or atheism. ¬†Having the hope to seek the God Who is Alive and Loving But Invisible and Soft Spoken makes all the difference. ¬†I just bless all the folks involved on a regular basis. ¬†It would have been so easy for me to lose God along with all the rest. ¬†

    I am still Unraveling though I think Freefall is a good word. ¬†My adult children saw all the hollowness of cultural Christianity, so they aren’t much interested in God these days. ¬†My husband is still very comfortable in the church institution, while I have sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, itching nose and a little trouble swallowing every time I go. ¬†It’s hard. ¬†I am gaining the understanding that God is enthused by all the talents, abiliites and gifts I have been given, not just some of them. ¬†I am praying he will help my husband and I to find some way to share our diverse spiritual experiences.

    I do think this guest has found another useful way to talk about this process so many are going through.

  6. ‚Äúwhen the imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ, but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived his, then there are many ways and forms in which a man can be a Christian.‚ÄĚ Henri Nouwen

  7. Wow, I have enjoyed these responses as much as I enjoyed the podcast. We are such a wonderful, amazing, diverse people being loved by a wonderful,amazing, diverse loving God. Why we would want to attempt to put those unsearchable riches into a box, button it down, write rules on it and only visit it on Sundays and some evenings flummoxes me. ( The fact that in trying to do that, to bring human control to this that is God, (he is not a tame lion you know!) already writes Ichabod on any box along with the rules.) I love what Kathy is about, that the semi “structure” of the 12 steps gives space and freedom to be vulnerable to those who struggle to speak. You can hear she holds it lightly, that is is not a tightly wrapped and gripped doctrine, but as Ginny says, a time and season. We too, become like Aslan,the more time we spend with him, we lose our domesticity, we turn our sails into the wind and become wild again. This is the Bride, and she is beautiful.

  8. I love Kathy! I have sat in on with her group on multiple occasions, and am always amazed at their heart for each other through the thick and thin of life. She is truly down in the mess of life showing the love of Jesus. Thanks for doing this interview, Wayne.

  9. As a pastor in upstate NY who has been following The God Journey and Lifestream since 2008, I was grateful for this interview for several reasons. One of which was learning about “The Refuge,” Kathy’s church. It was so encouraging to hear Kathy’s story and learn about a community of free believers that is living loved even in the midst of regularly scheduled Sunday gatherings and such. It’s not about a model or template for ministry, but I love how they’ve found their own unique expression of being the body Jesus wants them to be without conforming to traditional institutional church structures and the baggage and challenges that often come with it. My wife and I are 2 years into pastoring our small rural church whose roots are very conservative Baptist in worldview. We are working through (slowly) how to live free of the conformity and obligation based structures that Wayne and Brad and others have been talking about for years and yet engage the folks who have called our church home for so long and still desire to meet together regularly in fairly traditional ways. Many days, we feel like giving up, not knowing how to bring freedom and true life in Christ to our dear faith family who have only ever known traditional church. I loved visiting The Refuge website and seeing what they are doing. Thanks Wayne for having Kathy on the podcast.

    I wonder how many other pastors there are out there like me who openly embrace the views of church Wayne holds yet are still paid staff in a small churches trying to help people learn to live loved in Jesus and not get sucked into the trap of religiosity, conformity, and obligation to an institution and man made system. It seems that The Refuge has had an amazing journey also trying to do so and I would love to hear more stories from similar folks.

  10. Listening to this and walking through my own journey has been making me wonder.
    I keep seeing those that have moved from being “done” and then into the group of the “I no longer care” and have to ask, how many of these people went from done to don’t care because of the pressure and abuse levelled on them by those that are still dependant on the “church system”.

  11. Chris, the research has really made a distinction between done-and-don’t-care, and done-and-still-passionate-for-Jesus. I’m know there are many who have walked away from abusive systems not only rejecting it but God as well, convinced he doesn’t exist by those who have disfigured God so much that I’m convinced that God doesn’t exist either. It is sad to me that people can attend congregations for years and never engage a God more real than the system they were in. The system was their view of God, so when they left it they didn’t have a journey with him to keep exploring. God loves them too as do I. Helping people see a living God beyond the failures of man’s religious attempts is always a challenge, but so amazingly wonderful when they connect.

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