Bobby Gruenewald: The Phases of My Faith

The pastor/innovation leader at discusses his personal journey to becoming who God wants him to be.

When God wants to change my life, he changes my perspective. As He reframes the way I see the world around me, I start to think and act differently. When it comes to my faith, three phases stand out as particularly formative in the continuing journey of becoming who God has created me to be.

Phase 1: A New Direction

When I reached middle school, I was attending church regularly with my family, but I was far from God. Through the influence of my youth pastor and several leaders of my high school youth group who mentored me, as well as a summer camp I attended between eighth and ninth grade, I was confronted face-to-face with the reality of my sin. I finally understood what Jesus did for me and made a conscious decision to give my life to Him.

Everything about my life looked different when I started high school that fall. I dropped sports, joined youth group, led a Bible study and started a Christian rap group ministry. I carried a huge Bible with me everywhere I went, and everyone knew what I thought about Jesus.

Phase 2: Refining Faith

Heading off to college at a Christian university, I felt confident in my beliefs. I had a strong sense of right and wrong. Dispensing opinions—and occasionally judgment—came easily. But when I started classes, some of my beliefs got appropriately challenged. I realized I didn’t know why I believed what I believed.

I had developed a worldview that was based upon simply adopting the beliefs of the people around me. I became aware that I had been fairly legalistic and disconnected from the grace that meant so much to me.

I started discarding beliefs and my tightly wound worldview unraveled. I came to a very vulnerable and naked spot as I wondered if any of it was true.

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I reached a point of decision where I had two choices: I could stop being a follower of Christ, or I could continue with a different perspective.

By stripping everything back, I began to understand what it meant to have faith at the core of my being. I sought to learn who God is and why He did what He did for me. I was determined that my foundation would be what I grew to understand and what God showed me through His Word.

Though I could have easily discarded God during this season, He used it to refine who I was and what I believed.