One army resources and link to advertisement

Spiritual Spectators: A Student’s Story: Justin van Oeveren

“I learned how to be OK with not having all the answers and not necessarily knowing with certainty, and living in grace,” says Booth UC student Justin, reflecting on his experience of leaving--and later returning to--the church.

August 1, 2013 by Kristin Fryer


Justin van Oeveren

Justin van Oeveren, second-year student, bachelor of social work

Raised in a Christian family, Justin van Oeveren, 26, was highly involved with church growing up. He attended church services and youth group weekly, was a youth leader and went on three mission trips during his teen years. But looking back, he says he can’t remember a single sermon or lesson.

“What I do remember are the relationships that I made—the people that cared about me and showed me by saying hi, coming to shake my hand and asking me how I was doing,” he says. “That’s what had the most impact on me.”

In his teen years, van Oeveren was mentored one-on-one by a youth leader who later became a close friend. They met once or twice a month for coffee, outside the walls of the church.

“He helped me through lots of questions,” he says. “When you’re a teenager, you’re going through a lot of changes and you’re wondering how to live.”

Van Oeveren was at Bible college when he first began to really question his faith.

“As a child, I was taught that there is an ultimate truth, we can know that truth objectively, and there are no questions as to what that truth is,” he says. “Going through college, I began to realize that that’s not the case. It’s very difficult to discern what truth is and where it is.”

But rather than abandon faith, “I learned how to be OK with not having all the answers and not necessarily knowing with certainty, and living in grace.”

Though he still attends church, van Oeveren has mixed feelings about church generally. About five years ago, he stopped attending altogether because the services felt too much like a performance: “The stage, the band, the PowerPoint, the 30-45 minute sermon—it didn’t connect with me at all. If I wanted to be entertained, I would go to a movie.”

After a two-year hiatus, he now attends a home church where he appreciates the opportunity to share a meal with other Christians and have discussions, rather than listen to sermons. “Those conversations are really important to me because they’re engaging,” he says. “I’m able to make what we talk about applicable to my life.”

In his view, this kind of engagement is key to helping young people stay connected to the church.

Speak Your Mind

*

Montreal Citadel Reborn

Montreal Citadel Reborn

The new citadel boasts 29 nationalities, reflecting a changing Quebec.

Boundless: The Salvation Army International Congress

Boundless: The Salvation Army International Congress

International congress to celebrate 150 years of Salvation Army history.

Opinion & Critical Thought

By the Rivers of Babylon

By the Rivers of Babylon

Are we too content in exile?

Jesus the Christ

Jesus the Christ

How our fourth doctrine calls us to Christlike humility.

Territorial News

Cadets Receive Winter Assignments

Cadets Receive Winter Assignments

Intensive ministry opportunity helps cadets develop skills.

Booth University College Enrolment Up 10.5%

Salvation Army university college experiences eighth consecutive year of growth.

International News

Salvation Army Continues Response to Ebola Epidemic

Salvation Army Continues Response to Ebola Epidemic

Comprehensive response includes providing food, essentials and hygeine education in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Theology and Ethics Symposium Concludes with Prayer and Fellowship

Theology and Ethics Symposium Concludes with Prayer and Fellowship

Presentations and discussions examine the meaning of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Faith & Friends

In God’s Hands

In God’s Hands

A family struggles with a daughter’s grim diagnosis.

Dishing It Out

Dishing It Out

A Salvation Army facility in Toronto gets a much-appreciated handoff from some CFL athletes.