USA (MNN) — Last week, Jon Steingard, the lead singer for the popular Christian band Hawk Nelson, announced on Instagram that he no longer believes in God. His story is a long one filled with doubts and theological wrestling over many years.
Steingard joins a growing list of popular ex-Christians with “de-conversion stories.” Others include author and purity advocate Joshua Harris, Hillsong United’s Marty Sampson, and YouTube influencers Rhett & Link.
Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says declarations like Steingard’s are all missing one thing: Jesus.
“Let’s keep in mind Jesus never said follow my leaders. He never said follow my followers. He never said follow my musicians. He never said follow my preachers. He said, ‘Follow me.’
“So the only reason…to be a part of this whole Christian thing or to leave it is if you’ve got a problem with Jesus. Because it’s all about Jesus.”
In response to Steingard’s Instagram post, other Christian singers and musicians responded to the Hawk Nelson lead who writes he “agonized over whether to say this publicly….” Jeremy Camp, Tenth Avenue North’s Mike Donehey, and Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real all offered their love and willingness to talk about faith issues with Steingard.
“They’ve modeled Christ by how they have reached out in love and grace to their brother,” Hutchcraft says. “I’m sure that might have been hard to do…but they have simply modeled how real Jesus really is.”
For all believers — those wrestling with doubt and those who feel firm in their faith — it’s important to examine what exactly our Christian label rests on.
First, Hutchcraft says, “It’s not about Christian activities. [Some individuals stay] very busy with serving Jesus and doing things for Him. It’s not about activities. It’s not about church. It’s not about Christians. The only thing that keeps our faith really strong is our daily, personal experiences with Jesus. Just to have Christian beliefs, go to Christian meetings, or do Christian work is not enough.
“Jesus even said in Matthew 7 that there will come a judgment day when people will say, ‘We cast out demons in your name. We know all the verses. We preached in your name!’ Yet, somehow, they missed the relationship and that’s the only thing that really matters here…. That relationship begins with an act of your heart, not just your head.”
A part of Hutchcraft’s ministry is encouraging believers to look back on their life and learn to share their hope story – how Jesus makes the difference in life’s struggles and painful times.
For Hutchcraft, it’s a practice that hits close to home. “I have to tell you, for all of the questions I might ask over the years, I have seen Jesus work in my life as a result of being in His Word on a daily basis and keeping a journal of that. That makes it impossible to explain my life — literally impossible to explain it — without Jesus. That’s where the reality is. Without daily experiences with Jesus, you have a vulnerable faith.”
He also says for believers wrestling with specific doubts, “Don’t stuff your doubts. It appears from what I have read [from Steingard is] that there were doubts for years. We’re always afraid of what people will think.”
You can also sign up for daily spiritual encouragement through Ron Hutchcraft Ministries’ five-minute radio program, “A Word With You”. Hutchcraft also has a book called “A Life That Matters” which offers practical guidance on how to talk about your faith with people who don’t know Jesus.
Ultimately, Hutchcraft says, “When a pastor, a musician, an influencer claims that they don’t believe anymore, it doesn’t mean that’s a reason for you not to. It means it’s a reason to make sure that Christ is in your heart — not just in your head — to feed your relationship with Him with daily time with Him, [and] to not stuff your doubts but talk about them. There are answers. But nobody can answer a question you’re not asking. And look at life, look at all of the struggles through the place where God’s Son died for you.
“Keep your eyes on Jesus. It’s all about Him. He is the author and the completer of our faith. Our strength in belief is based on who Jesus is and not on anybody who’s trying to follow Him.”
Header photo courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash.