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A conversation with Caleb Kaltenbach - S2.E10


WORLD Radio - A conversation with Caleb Kaltenbach - S2.E10

Loving those who identify as LGBT without sacrificing commitment to Biblical truth

CALEB KALTENBACH: I think that there's a difference between loving somebody as a community, you know, and having them come and taste what it's like to be in such a community versus, you know, sweeping some people's bad mistakes or hangups underneath the carpet. That's not supposed to be done. And so, you know, I asked the question in the chapter on belonging, do people belong to the church because they believe or do people start, you know, belonging because their lives have changed? And I think that is, I think that our lives can change. We can offer people a place to come and learn about Jesus without giving them our perceived idea of free entrance into the kingdom of God. And that requires a lot of intentionality.

WARREN SMITH: I’m Warren Smith, and today you’ll be listening in on my conversation with Caleb Kaltenbach. He’s the author of a new book called “Messy Truth.”

If you’re a long-time listener to this program, Caleb Kaltenbach is no stranger to you. He’s one of only a handful of people we’ve had on the program more than once. The first time was in 2019. We talked about his book “Messy Grace,” which included his remarkable story. That story includes being raised by, not two, but three gay parents. Given that background, Caleb’s own “coming out” was truly counter-cultural: He came out to his gay parents as a Christian, and he has since been following Jesus, pastoring, writing books, and picking up both passionate allies, and a few haters, along the way.

Today, we’ll be discussing his new book, Messy Truth. His new book explores how Christians can cultivate a community of compassion for LGBTQ people—and others with whom we have real and important differences—without sacrificing our commitment to Biblical truth. In short, Caleb talks deeply, and helpfully, about what it means to hold tightly to both grace and truth, to speak the truth with love—giving full attention, and full voice, to both.


Support for Listening In comes from Samaritan Ministries, a community of Christians who care for one another spiritually and financially when a medical need arises.

Members like Kelsie who was diagnosed with breast cancer. While she had many decisions to make, how she was going to pay her medical bills was not one of them, and she had the freedom to choose the treatment that was best for her. You can watch Kelsie’s story at samaritan ministries dot org slash world podcast.

WS: [00:16] Well, Caleb, welcome back to the program. You and I spoke a couple of years ago, when your earlier book Messy Grace came out. We, we met in Nashville at the Q Conference where you were a speaker. And we had a very nice conversation there. And I guess I would refer our listeners to that earlier conversation, which you can find on the world news group website for a more in depth view of your biography. But for those that might be new, Caleb, to Listening In and/or to your story, would you mind very briefly recounting this your story of being raised by three gay parents?

CK: Yeah, absolutely. And by the way, thank you so much for having me on, man. It's always a pleasure to be with you. I was raised, like you said, by three gay parents. My mom and dad were both professors. They were divorced when I was 2. And they both went into same sex relationships. My dad with several friends, but my mom was in a 22 year monogamous relationship with a woman named Vera until she died from cancer. But they were activist oriented. I grew up going to bars and clubs and campouts and pride parades. And this is what I learned real quick - that if you're not like Christians, they would not like you. I saw some people who said that they were Christians holding up signs saying, We hate you, God hates you, throwing water and urine on people. And I thought to myself, Warren, if this is how Christians are, then I don't want to be one because I can't imagine how awful Jesus is. Then I joined a Bible study when I was 16, to, you know, learn how to attack the Bible. And I ended up becoming a Christian, and adopting the view that I hold today, the historic, Judeo-Christian view of sexuality and identity. And at the age of 16, I had to come out as a Christian to my three gay parents, who ended up basically kicking me out for a while. But I went to Bible College Seminary, and was preaching for a while in a church in Dallas, Texas, when my parents moved down there to be closer to our family. And at the ages of 69-70, they came to Christ. And so you know, it's just phenomenal. They're not in relationships anymore. They're actually not doing well health wise. But besides serving as a pastor at my church, one of the many pastors, I actually also run the Messy Grace Group where I help churches and ministries develop systems and processes that will allow them to hold on to their convictions and values, but also create margin for LGBTQ individuals to attend. Because people find apologies better in community, not in isolation.

WS: Yeah, exactly. Right. And we want to I want to talk about belongingness and community, as we move into the our conversation, Caleb, because that's an important theme, important ideas in your new book, Messy Truth. Just stipulate for the record, your earlier book was good, which is where your personal story was unpacked in a more significant way was Messy Grace. But what a beautiful story, and it's great to know that you're both of your parents came to know the Lord before you know it towards the end of their life. And, you know, so Messy Grace was a lot of your story and it's not really that grace is messy, or truth is messy. But the way we relate to them sometimes is. It's the way, you know, we complicate things, I guess you might say, that makes them messy. Is that a fair assessment?

CK: Oh, absolutely. grace and truth are not messy. God's grace and truth are both pure and clean. You know, like Psalm 19, says in Psalm 119, that pure, and we experience them as messy because of our sinful perspectives. And this gravitational pull that all of us have toward self, or what we call sin that dwells within each of us, right. So that that makes us view it as messy because we compare God's pure grace to our motives and to our wants and our desires. And I talk a lot about the tension between grace and truth. Now we experience tension because again, we're sinful beings, who are stuck in the arena of time. But God who is timeless and is sovereign experiences no tension whatsoever. He understands them perfectly. But for us, we live to be faithful and the tension that we experienced between grace and truth, which is love.

WS: Well, I really appreciate that perspective. And and especially that insight that you know, we, we sometimes think of God as well, I'm going to be a little less true today and a little more gracious today. Or maybe another day, you know, I'm going to be a little more gracious and a little less true or whatever it might be. But that's a false dichotomy. In God, there is no tension between grace and truth. They are both equal manifestations of his character, we just experience them in different ways. You know, Caleb, since your earlier book was Messy Grace, and this current book is Messy Truth, I'm going to focus a little bit more on the truth side, again, my limitation. I don't mean that to be a false dichotomy here. And I don't mean to not consider the two of them together. But early in your book, you offer what I thought was a very helpful definition of truth. And you basically say that truth is that which is accurate, and real. And I and I really appreciated, especially that reality component to truth. I think many people would, would acknowledge the accuracy piece of it, whether they're secular or non secular. But, but when you root truth in reality, in a created order, that really changes the conversation, doesn't it?

CK: No, it does, it does. Because we live in a society that is not particularly fond of truth. And I don't know that any society has particularly been fond of truth. As a matter of fact, I think that we are drawn to conflict, and we're drawn to drama. And we want, like I said, our own truth, we have this gravitational pull of self inside of us. And and that's what we perceive as truth. And so it takes a lot of intentionality on our part, many of the times to differentiate between preference and between actual truth or absolute truth. And there is a difference, even though we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that there is no difference.

WS: Well, you know, one of the, I don't know if it's an implication of what you just said, or maybe what you just said, is an implication of, of the Genesis story. But you, you come back over and over and over again, in your book, to Genesis chapters 1 and 2. And again, Caleb, correct me if I'm wrong here. But you seem to be saying that God gives us a framework by which we can and should view the world. That he is that he has created the world, and it has a certain order. He has imposed that order on the world. We see that order clearly in Genesis 1 and 2, and that a lot of our problems with sexuality and other culture war issues, really stem from a failure to fully remember Genesis 1 and 2, the created order. Is that a fair assessment?

CK: Absolutely, absolutely. As a matter of fact, I think I even mention, at one point in the book that our biggest issue, since the dawn of humanity, has been identity. Even in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan, Satan says, Hey, if you eat this fruit, you will be just like God, knowing the difference between good and evil. And so ever since then, we've been in this identity crisis. And I think that's one of the reasons why, you know, when the Pharisees in Matthew 19, and Mark 10, asked Jesus about marriage and remarriage and divorce, that kind of thing, Jesus quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, because he's not going to worry about the rabbinical traditions, he's not going to worry about the Pharisees interpretation of the law. He's like, let's go back to the very beginning. Have you not heard that God made them male and female. And by the way, you know, a man will leave his mother and father, be united with his wife and the two will become one. And, you know, Jesus went back to the very beginning. And he leveraged that to remind the Pharisees what mattered, who was in charge, and what their priorities should be. And it all goes back to God.

WS: Well, one of the reasons that I wanted to, albeit too briefly have that conversation about truth and about Genesis 1 and 2, is just to really firmly establish, you know where you're coming from and where this book is coming from, as it as it relates to gender and sexuality. Given that, though, you also say that as Christians, while sometimes we remember those aspects of Scripture that we've already talked about, that we just talked about, sometimes we forget other aspects of Scripture that are equally important - these questions that relate to community, and to belonging, and to the dignity of every individual made in the image of God, and the importance of the church to be intentional in the way we represent Christ to the world. Fair or not fair?

CK: Absolutely, we are made in God's image and likeness. We are the recipients, Christians are of Jesus's blood. And all of humanity, or everybody is still made in the image and likeness of God. And everybody has the open invitation to be the recipients of Christ's blood. So everybody we see is somebody that God created and Jesus died for. And we have to be intentional about fulfilling the mission. And a lot of us don't want to be intentional. A lot of us want to remain gatekeepers. We want to have our own way, even within our Christian relationship, we still bring in this gravitational pull to such where we still try to make it all about us, or what we can manage or what we know about or what we can control. And that's why I think it's some of the times so hard for us to change our perspective, or our opinion of somebody once we have an opinion of someone. So we have to have intentionality if we're going to reach people who are far from Jesus. Because, I try to make this argument, that God gets the most glory when people far from him become followers of him.

WS: Well, you introduce the word gatekeeper, which is an idea that you talk about, really kind of later in the book. But since you brought it up, I want to go ahead and talk about you. You talk about gatekeepers and guides. And differentiate between those two to a certain extent. Since you've already introduced the word gatekeeper, what do you mean by that? And what's different about being a guide than being a gatekeeper?

CK: Well, a guide, kind of going off the whole classic hero's arc plot outline for books and movies that people like John Eldridge and Donald Miller have drawn up in their in their works. And George Lucas, even with making Star Wars and so on, so forth. Just about every hero, superhero movie you can think of, where the hero is usually not the strongest person in the movie. Usually, the strongest person in the movie is the guide. Because the guide has already been where the hero is in the moment, and the guide gets the hero ready, and the guide takes the hero along, and the guide leads the hero. And the guide allows the hero to make mistakes, but there's still guardrails. And we see this guide in plenty of movies. You know, like in the Mask of Zorro, it was Anthony Hopkins leading Antonio Banderas. In Star Wars, it's Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Then you have Gandalf and so on, so forth. And so...

WS: Well, and even going farther back then that right? We have, you know, the Divine Comedy where we have a Beatrice is the guide to the, you know, so there there's a, You're right. I mean, this is a very famous motif through all of literature. What I think you're suggesting, Caleb, is that we should be the guides and not the gatekeepers. Those of us who are Christians, those of us are in the church.

CK: Right, because guides are always walking forward. Guides are always following Jesus. And when you follow Jesus, you can't stop and you don't turn around. You keep walking forward. As you follow Jesus, you're always walking away from who you used to be, from your past, whatever that looks like. Now, gatekeepers, on the other hand, they don't walk forward. Gatekeepers stop. They're not leading anybody. They feel like I have to protect this section of Christianity, or I have to protect this area over here. And they're not leading anybody. They're not fulfilling the mission of God. They're stalwarts or they're self appointed referees. I don't know where they got their whistle. I'd like a referee's whistle. I have opinions. But, they have their own referee's whistle that they blow some of the times. And I'm not saying that there shouldn't be defenders of the faith. And I'm not saying that there shouldn't be apologists and so on, so forth. There should be. But there's a big difference. And the difference is pride. The difference is pride in your self-perceived, established position. And you see that again, over and over again in Scripture. And it is, again us bringing our sinful gravitational pull toward self into our relationship with Jesus, into our faith. And it just makes a Frankenstein version of our faith.

WS: Well, so let's just then stipulate for the record that you are encouraging us to be, not so much gatekeepers, where we are holding people back, but rather to be guides, leading people further up and further in, as CS Lewis might have said. That does, though, create some tensions, Caleb, and I want you to talk about some of those tensions. You articulate some of them in the book. You talk about, for example, the tension between belonging and discipline. You talk about having to discern that moment when belonging should happen. In other words, we welcome someone to our church. But welcoming someone into the church and giving them sort of the full benefits of belonging to the community of believers might be two different things. Can you say a little more about those ideas?

CK: Yeah, absolutely. Um, I kind of take some of this from my idea for some of those tensions that you just talked about with belonging from 1 Corinthians 14, which many Christians know as, you know, the chapter in 1 Corinthians where Paul talks about speaking in tongues, so, and miraculous gifts. So depending on your denomination, you either skip that chapter or you go into depth on that chapter, right? So there are about three or four times in that chapter where the Apostle Paul talks about unbelievers. And specifically, I think it is around verse 24, he basically, and this is a Caleb paraphrase, when the whole church gathers together, and you start speaking in tongues and if unbelievers are in your midst, will they not think that you're out of your mind? And so in this hypothetical scenario, the Apostle Paul says, when the church is gathering together for worship, there are unbelievers there. In other words, he's saying be intentional about what you do and don't do in a, in a gathering like that, because of who's there. And he's not talking about lightening, lightweighting, the gospel or anything like that. And then I started thinking, you know, Paul talks a lot about unbelievers in 1 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 5, 1 Corinthians 10, 1 Corinthians 7. If an unbelieving spouse, listen, leaves. First Corinthians 9:19, and following, I've become all things to all people. And so I really do think that there's a sense in which there was probably a high percentage of unbelievers who attended some of these gatherings. But we, unfortunately, today, somebody suggests that, we either think oh, they're seeker sensitive or oh, you know that that's not the true church. Well, I think that there's a difference between loving somebody as a community, you know, and having them come and taste what it's like to be in such a community versus, you know, sweeping some people's bad mistakes or hangups underneath the carpet. That's not supposed to be done. And so, I asked the question in the chapter on belonging, do people belong to the church because they believe or do people start, you know, you know, belonging because their lives have changed? And I think that is, I think that our lives can change. We can offer people a place to come and learn about Jesus without giving them our perceived idea of free entrance into the kingdom of God. And that requires a lot of intentionality.

WS: Yeah. And, you know, you actually open your book with a story that I'd like to get you to recount now, Caleb. I probably should have followed your strategy and started with this. But I do think that now that we've kind of, you know, said some of the things that we said it might give this story a different kind of resonance. This, the story of, of two lesbian couples that were coming to a church, a church that you were consulting with, a church that, that held the biblical understanding of marriage, and these couples were becoming increasingly connected to the church and that created problems for them. And problems for the church. Can you unpack that story a little bit?

CK: Yeah, believe it or not, Warren, this has happened about seven times now since August of 2017. And, and I recount one of these times, the first times where a couple comes to a church, same sex married couple. In this case, it was two couples, lesbian married couples, who had adopted young kids from the foster system. And they start attending this church, this quote, unquote, non affirming. They know what the church believes, but they still attend. And so they're coming, and they're, you know, involved. And eventually, after about six months or a year, they talk to a staff member and they say, Well, hey, Um, you know, we’re married, we love each other, we now believe that marriage is between a man or woman, what should we do? You know? I remember when they first when the church first asked me that in the consulting meeting. I had no clue they were gonna throw that time bomb in the middle of the room. And my first answer was, I think we should go to Buffalo Wild Wings. Like, because I was hungry, and I think better on a full stomach than an empty one. But I was just kind of like, you know, well, you know, I'm consulting and can't go out and just drink or whatever. So let's go to Buffalo Wild Wings, you know. But um, you know, start asking questions, you know, they, and they're wanting to do the right thing. And so the right thing to do is to go on a journey with them, to walk with them. And there's a lot of concerns to be brought up, like, what about young kids. And they've had this stability of two loving parents who are in the same house. I'm not saying it's the same as a mother and father, and I believe that marriage is between a man or woman. But what about the young kids, like what's going to be best for them? That kind of thing. There's another story, another time I share later on in the book that you're probably familiar with with. Young, middle aged African American couple, lesbian couple, same question. They didn't have kids, but one of them would lose their health insurance, and she was schizophrenic. And last time she didn't have her schizophrenic medicine., she had an unfortunate experience with the police while she was having a schizophrenic episode. And she even said when she was recounting this, that that's not a dig on the police. That's just the reality of what happened. They didn't know what I was going through, you know, that kind of thing. So there are very, very real situations to, you know, think through. And in that second instance, the church, they ended up, the two ladies ended up deciding to get a divorce. But the church covered that one lady's insurance for like a year or year and a half until she was able to find suitable employment.

WS: So you know, Caleb, these are, those are really remarkable stories. And they're hard stories. I mean, I know as I read them, I'm very clear on you know, what I, what I believe the Bible teaches about marriage and about sexuality. And I know you are too and you've been very clear, even in this conversation in expressing that. And yet, when people come to us already in process, they they didn't consult with us in the beginning, before they got married, or we would have probably given them the advice not to, but it is really hard. And that brings up a distinction that I wanted to talk a little bit more about. You say, therefore, that the church must learn not to think differently, not to abandon the truth as revealed to us in Scripture. But to continue to hold on to that, that truth, that reality desperately. But we must learn to think not differently, but deeper. We must learn to think in ways that, that apply that messy, clear, plain truth to really messy human beings. Can you say a little bit more about that distinction between thinking differently and thinking deeply?

CK: Absolutely. One has to do with empathy. The other one has to do with devotion. Thinking differently about people, you know, and deeper about people or thinking deeper about people has to do with empathy. It is neither, empathy is neither the rejection of an individual nor the agreement with their ideas, relational decisions, ethics, job choice, so on and so forth. So basically, the way I look at it is empathy is feeling with another person. That's what Reggie Joyner at NorthPoint Orange Rethink says - it's putting your own thoughts and feelings on pause long enough to think and feel with another person. It is literally acknowledging somebody else's reality or experience. You know, saying that I, I understand. It's walking miles next to people. Going the extra mile. And so we have to do that. We have to understand. We have to get to know people. We have to know where they're coming from, their experiences, their hurts, their pains, their fears, their joys. But that doesn't mean that we have to abandon our commitment to Jesus, our devotion, our beliefs. As a matter of fact, I would make the argument that my beliefs, that my belief in Jesus makes me love people all the more. It makes my love more relentless than it was before and stronger for that person. So I can't abandon my theology, about marriage or about Jesus or about anything. But I have to think deeper about people and I think that Paul and Jesus did that all the time.

WS: Yeah. Well, given all of that, Caleb, let me, let me ask, I guess another round of questions or different kinds of questions. Where do you draw the line then? Or is drawing the line even the right thing to do between acknowledgment, that, showing that empathy that you just described, and acceptance and agreement? You know, how can we acknowledge and show that we truly understand that the pain someone is in without communicating acceptance and agreement and affirmation? Give us some guides to help us manage that.

CK: Well, I think a big part of that is understanding the difference between acceptance and agreement. This is how you can tell somebody is a an extremist. Extremists cannot tell the difference between acceptance and agreement. And I'm talking about both progressive extremists and conservative extremists. Or I don't even say conservative, cultural fundamentalists. You know, they can't tell the difference between agreement and acceptance. Either ‘A’, because they have their identity in something else other than Jesus, and you're messing with their identity. That's why so many people who, not so many people, that's why extremists who are LGBTQ or identify in some ways as a sexual minority. If you disagree with any decision they make or their view on something, then they just want to end the relationship, or they say you're being toxic and abusive, because you're stepping on their identity. That's why I make the argument that when you put your identity in Christ, He protects it. You don't have to fight for it. That allows you to be an ordinary person through whom which God can do extraordinary things. So we have to understand the difference between acceptance and agreement. And we are compromising when whatever we are taking part in, or whatever we are doing, causes us to change our theology, causes us to change our minds, means that we have to make a shift in our values or doctrine. When we cross that barrier, we have compromised. Some people, out of good intentions are so afraid of crossing that barrier, they don't even come close to the edge. But you look at Jesus, he, in Matthew 9 was in the middle of the tax collectors party. And I don't think the Pharisees were even in there with him because the Pharisees, I mean that his disciples were in there with them. Because the Pharisees definitely wouldn't have gone in. And they were actually talking to his disciples. So that meant his disciples had to be outside. And yet Jesus was willing to be misunderstood by people. And yet he still didn't compromise his doctrine or values.

WS: Well, not only did he not compromise, whenever a tax collector finally did come to repentance, he said, not only repay but repay over and above. There was, so Jesus not only did not compromise where that bar of truth was, but he, in many ways, raised it. And, and required people. You know, I think of the rich young ruler, for example, where, you know, the guy, you know, obeyed every law and Jesus said, there's one thing you lack, sell everything you get, you know, you have, give it to the poor and follow me and the rich young ruler went away sad. But, but even even what Jesus asked him to do, indicated that he saw deeply into that man's heart. He really did understand that guy in ways that others didn't.

CK: It even says, I think, in one of the gospels, even says that he looked at him and loved him.

WS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. All right. Well, Caleb, let me, one other kind of question that I want you to unpack for me. And you say in the book that a lot of our tensions that we experience when we're talking about sexuality, and church discipline, and belongingness, and, you know, all of you know, welcoming gay and lesbian people, to our LGBTQ people to our church, and, and sometimes those tensions are the result of what you call our conviction, our compassion, and our conversations colliding. That they come in conflict with one another. And so I want you to explain a little bit more about what you mean by that. And in particular, I want you to maybe address this question. I know a lot of especially younger people that will say that, you know, they've got gay friends, and they like them, they're, they, you know, and that makes it really hard to have the kinds of conversations with them, that they, that their convictions might lead them to have. That their relationship, their compassion for their friend causes them to put their convictions on a back burner and not have the right kinds of conversations. Maybe I'm not asking this question in a very efficient way, Caleb, but can you maybe address some of these issues that I'm raising here on the table? And give us some advice?

CK: Sure. Absolutely. And if I don't address in my answer, let me know. I didn't address it. I'll try to do better. But um, yeah, the the actual Messy Truth, the whole book is, is really outlined in three parts, dealing with your convictions, number one, your compassion, then number two, your conversations. Because when I think about where truth feels messy, it's in what we believe, especially when, when it deals with things that we struggle with, or that other people struggle with, or their society struggles with. Our convictions feel messy all the sudden. And then our compassion with other people. Some of the times, it feels like you don't have compassion because of what you believe, or you're, or when they say your belief is harming me, and you go home and you're kicking yourself, you're like, what I believe, is that really harming that person? Is that really what happened? And it really usually mostly isn't. And then also conversations. Man, it is tough to have conversations. I mean, I'm glad there are books like How To Have That Difficult Conversation by Cloud and Townsend or Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, all really, really good books. But the collision of those three really make truth seem messy. And again, truth isn't. But it's within us where we feel this messiness. And that's why I start with convictions, and then compassion, and then conversations. Because it's hard to have conversations, intentional conversations, about truth with people, without knowing what you believe in value, and then knowing who you love and who you care for. And so a lot of times, these conversations don't go well for a myriad of reasons. People don't have the influence that they thought they would have. People, just impromptu, have these conversations with someone and they, and they aren’t prepared to have these conversations. They don't know the person well enough. It's not the right setting. It's not the right time. The, the conversation goes on and on and on and on for like four hours. And then you can't even remember what the original conversation was feeling. You just walk away negative. And so this is why I wrote a third of the book to conversations. It's like how do you have effective conversations without destroying people? But Kerry Newhoff has said, you know, we don't need to offend people. The Bible offends people. The gospel offends people. I mean, Jesus promises that. But that doesn't mean that I have to be offensive. I need to be intentional about what I say. So I talk about, you know, how do you pray about this? How do you plan ahead of time? What's your goal for the conversation? How do you want the person to leave? How do you develop good questions in the moment? You know, where should you have it? About how long should it be? How do you evaluate afterwards to see if the conversation went well? And then when you're in the midst of the conversation, what do you do? What do you not do? These are all important because they require the intentionality that again, we see in individuals like Paul and Peter and John, and so on and so forth, who have this intentionality with people. And yet, they cared enough to plan, to think, to strategize, and then to be able to do what they did.

WS: Well, and one of the things that you say, in your book, among many helpful pieces of advice relative to having these kinds of conversations is that asking questions sometimes is a whole lot more effective than making definitive statements. Is that so?

CK: Oh, man, my wife is a therapist, which is good news/bad news for me. Sometimes we'll be talking, yeah, sometimes we'll be talking and she'll ask a question, and I'll be like, get out of my head. No, do not crawl around my head. You do not want to crawl around up there. But, um, but honestly, it's like, attorneys, litigators, and therapists. They have to ask questions. They're trained to do that. Christian leaders and pastors are not. We are trained to tell people what to do. And so that's why I think it's hard for us sometimes to think critically. I did like a six month study one time on how do you ask a really good question, like what is what is a good question comprised of? What is it not comprised of? What are different kinds of questions you can ask? And so I studied, studied, studied. And in the book, I tried to give some advice, you know, briefly on how do you ask good questions, what does it look like to asked good questions. And then I list about maybe 80, 70 or 80 questions that you can have. Everything from family to theological to about your community, so on and so forth. And so asking questions really engages are part of our mind that imperatives don't. You know, when we ask a question, it helps people drop their guard. It engages them more in the conversation. It makes them feel less threatened. It makes them feel like they're actually a part of, you know, engagement in the conversation. As opposed to telling people what to do, where we feel like, you know, we come off as a heartless overlord, even if we're not trying to appear as one.

WS: Well, Caleb, I really appreciate the time that you spent with me today, I found the book very nourishing, and um not compromising in any way, shape, or form in biblical truth. But um causing me to think differently in a number of areas about you know, my some of my relationships, even some of my relationships with my children. You know, you were talking about credibility. Sometimes you don't know whether you've got credibility with someone or not until you try to have these conversations with them. And then, unfortunately, sometimes I think parents discover that they don't have the credibility even with their own children, that they need to be able to have these kinds of conversations,

CK: Which I think is all the more reason why parents should partner with their local church to teach your kids Christ centered values. I found that as kids get older, parents, the parental influence decreases even with the best parents. Eventually it goes up again, when kids get older, and they realize that their parents weren't automatic morons. That they're morons, just like their parents. But you know, that's why I tell parents all the time, if you have to choose between soccer practice or taking your kid to youth group, take your kid to youth group. You have to do that. You have to partner with the church. Because ultimately, it's not the church's job to disciple your kids. It's your job. And you need, you want the voice of a small group leader in your kid's life, who will have more influence than you do in their high school years to speak truth into their life. That's extremely important for me.

WS: That brings to a close my conversation with Caleb Kaltenbach. Caleb is the executive director of The Messy Grace Group. He holds a master’s degree from Biola University, and a doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife Amy live with their two children in Southern California.

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