Middle School Awakening
by Dean Inserra
My exposure to Cultural Christianity began primarily with my own upbringing. I grew up going to church every Sunday, unless I was sick or out of town. Our family would say a memorized prayer before eating together at the dining room table each night: “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” This type of prayer is a nightly tradition for many Cultural Christian families with young children. I owned a Bible, which was given to me after my confirmation at the neighborhood Methodist church, but I don’t remember reading it. I knew about Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath, and that Jesus helped a lot of people.
In middle school, a pretty girl invited me to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) “huddle meeting.” I played sports, and believed in God, and did I mention she was pretty? So I went. FCA was a great time, and I went every week to the huddle meeting with other classmates. We would hear something the kids called a “testimony” from athletes who played football for the Florida State Seminoles, and I thought it was the coolest.
As the school year went on, it was time for our fall retreat. I had never heard of one of those things. It was a one-day event in a camp-type setting held about an hour from where I lived. The thought of getting on a bus and spending the day with my friends and playing in sports competitions sounded like my type of thing, and I signed up as quickly as my parents agreed to let me go. After dodgeball, kickball, and some relay races, we had our assembly time. The speaker was a large man who had played professional football, and I remember thinking his muscles were bigger than Hulk Hogan’s. He told really funny stories and then starting talking about our need to trust in Jesus, that He died for our sins and rose from the grave.
Up until the FCA retreat, if anyone had asked me if I was a Christian, I would have said yes without hesitation. But if you had asked me why I claimed to be a Christian (nobody ever had), trusting in Jesus and that He died for me would not have been my answer. And as for sins? I didn’t really have a concept of my sinfulness.
Dean Inserra is a graduate of Liberty University and holds a M.A. in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is pursuing a D. Min. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the founding pastor of City Church. He is passionate about reaching the city of Tallahassee with the gospel, to see a worldwide impact made for Jesus.