Ronnie McBrayer was born in the foothills of the North Georgia Appalachians and claims he barely survived the fire-and-brimstone, fundamentalist instruction of his hard shell Baptist-raised childhood. But in the great comedy of God, Ronnie has spent his adulthood in Christian ministry, both preaching in and protesting against; both loving and leaving; both running away from and returning to the church. The faith he is trying to keep isn’t in organized religion, however. It is in Jesus. Ronnie is the author of the nationally syndicated newspaper column “Keeping the Faith,” as well as multiple books and publications.
How would you describe your calling and mission as a writer and as a Christian?
In a word, I would describe it as “catalytic.” Think about striking a match: With a little push and a little friction, there is a spark. Will it lead to a fire? Maybe. Maybe not. But in the right environment, that little spark can ignite a roaring blaze. As a writer/preacher/follower of Jesus, all I want to do is shower a few sparks here and there, creating space and place for people to hear and draw closer to Christ.
What were your goals in writing Leaving Religion, Following Jesus?
Though this book is not a memoir, in many ways it is the diary of my spiritual journey. Ultimately I found religion to be more of an obstacle in knowing God than a help. I don’t say that to be critical of the church, but to say that Christ must be the focus of our faith, eclipsing everything else. I hope those who maybe find themselves outside the established church will be encouraged by this book to cling to faith in Christ, even though their faith in church institutions may be shattered. And to those within the church, I hope we would read this book and take a serious look at how we “do” church. Much of Christianity is more concerned with protecting its position and power than caring for people. As such, it has little credibility. We must be quick to accept that even something we label “Christian,” if it is not consistent with the words and ways of Christ, should be discarded.