When college students come back, we get the scary privilege of checking in with them as youth pastors. If you haven’t had this experience yet, you will. Sometimes we discover that our former students have fallen off a bit faith wise as they’ve begun their official transition toward adulthood.





Maybe some of us have come to fear that word. It feels threatening to the beliefs and traditions that are every bit as warm and comfortable to us as chestnuts roasting on an open fire. I think if we’re honest, some of us have begun to conflate deconstruction of faith as destruction of faith.

But those two words don’t mean the same thing. They’re different. Three letters different, as a matter of fact. And as we’ll discover when we throw on our G Shades as ministry leaders, those three letters make all the difference.

In church world, we like to talk a lot about Jesus’ birth around this time of year, and rightly so. Truthfully, December is probably the only month where it’s commonplace to hear the name “Immanuel” in church on a regular basis. This is of course one of many nicknames for Jesus—and we use it at Christmastime because it specifically highlights the reality that God became a 6lb 8oz baby (you’re welcome Ricky Bobby fans) in order to be with humanity. Immanuel means “God with us.”

Our God is a “with” us God. He walks with us in our mess, our brokenness, and our imperfection.

Interestingly (and definitely coincidentally), in Spanish, the word “con” means with. Maybe, just maybe, the major difference between the successful deconstruction of a person’s faith and the destruction of a person’s faith is the “con” factor. The with factor. That if we would be ministers and small group leaders who are willing to do the Immanueling (“con”) work of helping our students process their questions and doubts and traumas before they leave high school and onward, then it’s entirely possible (likely, even?) that their deconstruction doesn’t become destruction.

You know…because the “con” matters.

Cute, right?

This, friends, is why I believe so much in the vision of G Shades. Rather than equipping students solely with an assortment of biblical principles and practices, we would do well to help them find an anchor to the gospel as their primary lens for life. When we combine the faith paradigm of G Shades with the “con” factor of being Immanueling ministry leaders, our students will navigate deconstruction just fine.

Mike Haynes is a full-time youth pastor and the creator of G Shades Youth Ministry Curriculum. Feel free to reach out to Mike anytime over email at
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