Just a Thought or Two

A Letter to a Young Christian

Author: Mark Fenstermacher
July 29, 2022

Note: The other day I was blessed to be able to sit down with a young Christian. He is in the middle of a new beginning with God, and he asked me about next steps. So I promised him a short note and this is an edited version of what I sent his way. I thought that you might find it helpful if you are hungry for a continuing soul adventure with God, personally, or if someone you know is wanting a new beginning with God.

Dear Tom,

Good having lunch! You’re in my prayers as you head off to college. Don’t hesitate to call or text to let me know what’s up and how your walk with Jesus is going.

Remember that we are saved or made whole by grace. Don’t give up on yourself or God when you mess up, fall short, etc. We all do. We are strong, we are weak. We get it right, we get it wrong.

Go towards the people and experiences that bring the best out of you. Stay close to the people, places, and resources (books, films, etc.) that build up your faith. Avoid at all costs those people (and churches) that lead you to dark places, feed your doubt, grow shame, and speak of an angry, vindictive, controlling God. 

I always look for a church/faith community where the God who is lifted up looks like Jesus…acts like Jesus. If the God that is preached, taught, or worshiped doesn’t look like the Prince of Peace, the Carpenter from Nazareth, then find another faith community.

Here are several books that are easy reads and may be very helpful in your spiritual walk:

  • Love Wins by Rob Bell
  • Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
  • Ruthless Trust and also Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
  • Traveling Mercies by Ann Lamott
  • Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Begin and end the day with a few minutes of scripture, meditation, and prayer. There are some good printed devotionals and online resources that will land in your email daily.

Finally, when it comes to reading the Bible, I would caution you against trying to wade through it from beginning to end. There are numerous through-the-Bible reading plans and resources. If I were starting out, I would read one Psalm and one chapter of the Gospels.

You may find it helpful to have a study Bible that has some notes in the margins or at the bottom of each page. Translations? I would recommend the New Revised Standard Version, Today’s New International Version, the Common English Bible, or The Message (the language is very modern and—often—easy to understand).

I’m so glad God led you to us, and I am grateful God has reached out to you through the experience of open communion. 

Remember, that your relationship with God should not generate fear but joy. The small New Testament book of 1st John says (4:18) says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 

Finally, there is this: relationships do not go in a straight line. Whether a friendship, a love, or your relationship with Jesus: they do not go in a straight line. There are times when it is growing, times when it may seem stalled, and times when things may grow cool. Don’t give up. Keep going. Keep knocking on the door. Keep seeking. Trust me, Jesus will show up and walk with you as he walked with the travelers to Emmaus (Luke 24).

Grace and peace,
Pastor Mark


First United Methodist Church
1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN 46706
office@auburnumc.church | 260.925.0885