Community Chaplain Resources
Used to Go to Church
Rethinking God on the Frontline of Life’s Tragedies
(Available on Amazon)
“This book is real, gritty and the author understands grief with no canned Sunday School answers. A must read for anyone who has ever experienced a crushing life trauma, heartache or disappointment that shakes you to your core. Nick will challenge you, because in doing so, the Lord will use his words to change you.
I see now, He was with me in moments of personal crisis and isolation. He was with me in my tears, depression and it was his unseen hand that lovingly and patiently led me out of the spiritual darkness. When I felt most alone, it was his unseen presence that kept me alive and gave me hope. His mercies and faithfulness are new every day. “
- Steve Wisniewski former 13-year All-Pro NFL Player, LA / Oakland Raiders 1989-2001
Countless times, over the course of my twenty years as a Police and Fire Chaplain, I have been called to scenes of gut-wrenching tragedy, horrific heartache and despair, and gruesome death. Officers show up to secure a scene and investigate. Firefighter/medics show up to perform their skill set attempting to revive someone’s loved one or pronounce them deceased. Officers and firefighters deal with the material realities. They show up with guns, clipboards, hoses, drugs and medical devices. I show up to delve into the non-material–the mind, heart and soul of those contending with overwhelming grief. It is hard to describe what it is like to walk into the very moments of the most extreme expressions of grief a human being can experience time and time again, year after year for the past 22 years. I’ve traveled a road very few have experienced.
There has been a recurring response that people have had upon discovering I am a chaplain-"I used to go to church." In almost every case I discovered that these individuals had not given up on faith and belief in God but could not connect the God they learned inside the four walls of a church to the realities and struggles of their everyday lives.
My purpose in writing Used to Go to Church is to start a new conversation about God and faith with people who left church and are uncertain about how God factors into their daily lives, if at all. It is often personal tragedy, suffering and loss, as well as seeing the harrowing and heartbreaking realities of the world, that makes it difficult for people to believe in the idea of a good and loving God.
My own faith and relationship with God have been deepened through my experiences as a first responder chaplain, which has put me on the frontlines of some of the grimmest human hardships. Church-leavers and God-doubters will view me as someone who truly understands the mess of the world, and yet has arrived at a genuine, tested, sound and life-giving faith. Each chapter invites the reader to reconsider what it means to know God amidst the trials and tribulations of the human journey, and how faith enables us to live courageous, compassionate, meaningful and hopeful lives.