Healing from Church Trauma & Spiritual Abuse : Ryan George

Healing from Church Trauma & Spiritual Abuse - Ryan George - 107 - FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

How can our churches become places of healing for those who have experienced church trauma and spiritual abuse? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Ryan George. Ryan is the co-founder of a spiritual adventure community in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He’s written several books, including his latest, entitled Hurt and Healed by the Church. Ryan shares his story of redemption and reconstruction of his faith after spiritual abuse and church trauma. Together, Ryan and Jason look at some of the ways that our local churches can open our doors and make space for those who’ve experienced spiritual abuse.

Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!

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Additional Resource Links

www.booksbyryan.com – Explore Ryan’s website to discover more about his ministry, books, speaking engagements, articles, and additional resources to enhance your faith journey.

Hurt and Healed by the Church: Redemption and Reconstruction After Spiritual Abuse – In his book, Ryan describes the mental shifts and the restorative relationships he experienced on his journey of healing from church trauma and spiritual manipulation. He shows that rebuilding your faith doesn’t have to look like abandonment. He offers hope and inspiration through his story of an unorthodox redemption.

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Ministry Leaders Growth Guide

Key Insights and Concepts

  • Unfortunately, unhealthy churches and harmful forms of spiritual authority can inflict trauma on people. The Church must recognize this and provide opportunities for healing to those who have experienced church trauma and spiritual abuse.
  • Recognizing and addressing the impact of spiritual, physical, and emotional abuse within religious contexts is crucial for personal healing and development.
  • The transformative power of personal commitment to faith in adulthood can emerge even after a background filled with harmful religious teachings and practices.
  • The process of deconstructing and reconstructing one’s faith, particularly through critical examination of previously held beliefs, is essential for developing a mature and authentic spiritual life.
  • The importance of a supportive faith community can not be underestimated for those who have experienced church trauma and spiritual abuse.
  • Among other aspects, a healthy church environment includes experiences of vulnerability among its leaders, promoting a culture of openness and genuine spiritual exploration.
  • Emphasizing experiential learning in religious contexts can help individuals apply faith principles to personal challenges and encourage practical expressions of belief.
  • The importance of creating inclusive and egalitarian faith communities is underscored by the need for diverse leadership and opportunities for all members to contribute meaningfully.
  • The role of counseling and pastoral care in addressing personal and communal traumas highlights the church’s responsibility to provide support and healing.
  • Encouraging authenticity and openness about struggles within the church setting can foster an environment where individuals feel safe to share and grow in their faith.
  • The concept of seeking Jesus directly, as a personal quest for truth and understanding, offers a profound way to experience faith that transcends traditional religious structures.
  • Ministering to those who have experienced church trauma or spiritual abuse must be approached with sincerity and sensitivity.

Questions for Reflection

  • Have I experienced or witnessed any form of abuse—spiritual, physical, or emotional— within religious settings? If yes, how do I address and heal from that or help others heal?
  • How have my early life and/or church experiences shaped my current views on faith and leadership within the church?
  • In what ways have I challenged or re-evaluated the religious teachings from my upbringing in my own life and current ministry?
  • Has my spouse or significant other played a role in shaping my approach to ministry and spiritual leadership? If yes, how has it benefited those things?
  • As a parent and a leader, how do I guide my children or spiritual dependents toward a healthy understanding of faith?
  • What, if any, harmful doctrines or practices was I taught that I need to deconstruct? What steps have I taken to biblically reconstruct these in my life and ministry?
  • When was the last time I took an honest assessment of the ministries of our church and examined the overall health of our culture? What did I learn? Do we need to reassess now?
  • How open am I in my ministry about struggles and doubts? In what ways do I allow vulnerability to shape my leadership?
  • How do I facilitate experiential learning in my community to make faith a practical part of overcoming personal challenges?
  • What practices have I implemented in my ministry to ensure it is inclusive and egalitarian so that a diversity of voices are heard?
  • How do I ensure that my church provides adequate counseling and support, especially for those with deep traumas?
  • How authentic am I in communicating my personal struggles and doubts to my congregation? How does this influence their spiritual growth?
  • How do I encourage myself and others to directly seek Jesus and foster a personal relationship with Him, outside of traditional church structures?
  • How healthy is our current church culture? How are we providing safe spaces for people who have experienced church trauma or spiritual abuse? What changes can we make in this area?

Full-Text Transcript

How can our churches become places of healing for those who have experienced church trauma and spiritual abuse?

Jason Daye
In this episode, I’m joined by Ryan George. Ryan is the co-founder of a spiritual adventure community in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He’s written several books, including his latest, entitled Hurt and Healed by the Church. Ryan shares his story of redemption and reconstruction of his faith after spiritual abuse and church trauma. Together, Ryan and I look at some of the ways that our local churches can open our doors and make space for those who’ve experienced spiritual abuse. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye 
Hello, friends. Welcome to FrontStage BackStage. I am your host, Jason Daye. I’m super excited to be bringing you another episode. Every single week, I have the privilege of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader, and we dive into a conversation, all in an effort to help you and ministry leaders just like you embrace healthy rhythms for both your life and your ministry. We are proud to be a part of the Pastor Serve Network. And each week, not only do we dive into a topic, but we also create a toolkit for you to use personally and for you to use with your ministry team at your local church so that you can dig more deeply into the topic that is discussed. And you can find that toolkit at PastorServe.org/network. In there, you’ll find a lot of resources including a Ministry Leaders Growth Guide. This includes insights and questions that you can process through yourself and with your ministry team at your church. So please be sure to check that out. At Pastor Serve, we love walking alongside pastors and ministry leaders. And we get to do this day in and day out. And our team of experienced coaches are offering a complimentary coaching session to ministry leaders. And if you want to learn more about that, you can find out those details at PastorServe.org/freesession. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, thank you for jumping on here. We certainly appreciate you. We’ve had a huge uptick in views and subscribers here recently, and we’re just grateful that you’re joining us. Please take a moment to drop your name and the name of your ministry in the comments below. We love getting to know our audience better. And we’ll be praying for you and for your ministry. And be sure to subscribe, you don’t want to miss out on any of these great conversations. And whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe and follow. I’m super excited about today’s conversation. At this time, I’d like to welcome Ryan George to the show. Ryan, welcome, brother.

Ryan George 
Hey, it’s good to be here.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, so good to have you. As I said, I’m really looking forward to our conversation, Ryan. You have a unique story and a beautiful story of redemption. And we always love to celebrate those stories, don’t we, brother? We’re going to be talking about church trauma and spiritual abuse that you’ve experienced. But again, just this amazing story of redemption, which is always very, very exciting. So, as we kind of start off and launch into this, I do want to say that you have published and recently released a book called Hurt and Healed by the Church. Just the title alone gives us hope and helps us think through the process that, yes, there are things that churches sometimes do. There is spiritual abuse. We know that. We can’t ignore that fact. But then there is the healing that churches can provide. And so we want to focus on that healing. But before we get there, brother, can you just start sharing with us your story? Tell us a little bit about your early experiences in church and how that kind of unraveled in some ways for you and the experiences that you had.

Ryan George 
Yeah, sure. So my faith experience started really early, before I was even paying attention. I’ve been baptized into three different religions, three different faiths. My parents fought over what I would be as a baby, my dad won that one. Then, they changed faith when I was two or three years old. I got baptized after some vacation Bible school in K4. But I really committed and gave my life to Christ in my late 20s. But to back up, my dad, after he changed his faith, also decided, well, if I’m going to do this, I need to go all the way. So he went back to college, got training to be a pastor, worked in several churches as an assistant pastor, and then eventually started his own church in Maryland. And then after I grew up in that environment, I left for college. I believed some of the same caustic things my dad was preaching from the pulpit. I was homeschooled. I had a big family. If you’ve seen Shiny Happy People, you’ve seen a good window into my life. I went to an extremist college, you could say maybe even culty in what we studied, learned, and were taught. But I married out of that faith system. My wife is a missionary kid who grew up in Bolivia, in the mountains. And so she got me to move here to Virginia to the mountains. I was just in Indiana this weekend, where we lived when we first got married, Man, I’m so glad we moved to the mountains. And then five years ago, we became parents after 18 years of marriage. So we’ve been walking that journey of leading our daughter towards Jesus. Grew up in a family that had some religious trauma of their own. Her grandfather was a minister, and nobody comes to you through adoption with an easy story, right? So what’s been fascinating is that her trauma from her past and my trauma from my past have been healed together in our shared relationship. So it’s been a journey. I’ve been outside of the cult that I grew up in for about 20-22 years. I’ve been able to use the word abuse in the last five or six, I started going to therapy when I was 41. And started to look back and go, Oh, maybe some of the things that happened weren’t just extreme. Diana Langberg has a great phrase I like. She said all abuse is spiritual abuse because we’re made in God’s image. And so I was able to put that label first on the physical things that were done to me, then the verbal things, and eventually the spiritual things that happened to me growing up.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, Ryan. That’s a fascinating story. Now, share with us a little bit about your upbringing. So, you were raised in a church that professed and preached God and preached Jesus. And yet there were some, as you said, very caustic teachings and some toxic things that were going on. So, what were some of those experiences that you reflect on?

Ryan George 
Yeah, I mean, what I did through my book that just came out was I go chapter-by-chapter through all of the different weird things that I was taught, and then how that got reformed, re-changed, and reconstructed. So even things like how often you attended a church service. At one point in my life, I was attending eight church services a week because I was told that’s what Godly Christians do, right? Like the extreme views of women. That they shouldn’t even be allowed to sing on the platform on a Sunday. Weird things about how angry God was and how superstitiously we need to approach him. Almost grovel and hope that he’s merciful. I endured a lot of physical abuse. And my dad would use patches of Scripture like, well, you know, in the Old Testament, if you disrespect your parents, they were allowed to stone you. And so this is actually a reprieve from your full justice for talking back to your mom or what have you. So, I grew up in a system where they would take Scripture out of context and really hammer you with it. We had one guy get up in Sunday school once and he said, and it was in there, I can’t remember where it is in the Old Testament. But he said, this verse says, do not bow down to the tree with golden bulbs and lay your gifts. He’s like, this is why we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas the way we do. You’re like, Well, I mean, that’s in there, but that’s not what he was talking about. So, just the idea that God is angry and must be appeased. I was taught that black people were cursed when Noah got drunk and cursed the sons-in-law or his son’s son, his grandson. And that came around for me when the last time I was in my home, my dad was spouting racist things. And that was right before I adopted a black daughter. So almost every part of what we believe was adulterated somehow, right? There was truth in there, and then you would just turn it 20 degrees or 45 degrees, or in some cases, 180 degrees from what Jesus actually said. It was really hard to figure out what was right and what was wrong growing up. It took getting out and being around people who are passionately following after Jesus and opening up towards hey, I don’t know, let’s just dive and see what it says, Oh, that’s not in there. Like the stuff that I was taught growing up and just these complicated things. You know you’ve seen the meme of like, all the red lines on the wall and the guy trying to explain in the basement? We did that to try to explain our very weird god.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s amazing. Now, Ryan, oftentimes, whenever people experience this type of an upbringing, they tend to just reject church altogether or reject God altogether. They see just this contrast, like, oh, this was so far off. And this was so manipulative, right? And then they just kind of jettison altogether. And yet, Ryan, your story is different. So help us understand a little bit kind of your deconstruction phase and how that kind of redemptive quality. What was going on? What were you experiencing? What was around you that helped you kind of anchor in and not just jettison it all?

Ryan George 
Yeah, first, I want to say for the people and some of my close friends, who have not been able to go back to a church building. Have not been able to participate in religion because there are so many triggers everywhere you turn. There’s something that, again, it’s so close to what they experienced. And I get it and I give them grace for that. It may take them decades and they may never, and that’s the sad part, come back to Jesus. For me what happened was, and I happen to think it’s sovereign, that when I left there, I just found a church that was close to my house. There was not a whole lot of criteria for it. And I walked in and I tried to prove every Sunday that it was wrong and I couldn’t. I’d walk out and I’d be like Man, I never thought of it that way. And then they opened up this environment for eight or nine weeks and it was, here’s what a Christian experience should be with the local church. This is what it should look like. And I remember my small group leaders for that, they were going through infertility, they tried multiple different things, they were considering IVF, and they didn’t have the money for it. And they’re in our small group saying that we’re having a hard time believing God is good right now. And I had never heard a religious leader be that vulnerable or say that. And I was like, Is this allowed to be said? That just kept happening on stage, and then different small groups and different community groups at my church, and church things. The men in my life and women in my life who were speaking into me at the time were totally comfortable saying, I don’t know. Didn’t have to have it figured out. They didn’t need all the strings on the board because it was like, Man, I don’t know. Let’s go look at it. The other thing that happened was, so I’m wired for adventure, my last book is called Scared of Life. I’ve been to all seven continents, both polar circles, trying to scare myself into feeling something. Instead, I found God, which is what that story was about. But it just so happened, again, I just went to a church close to my house, that the pastor’s there were adrenaline junkies. One raced motorcycles and climbed Alpine mountains in different continents. One flew experimental aircrafts, I had a whitewater paddler and Ice Climber. And so they presented spirituality and the church environment or faith community as a spiritual adventure. And I was all in. They’re like, well, let’s just go find out. And they were willing to say at times, hey man, I had this wrong. So the teaching team at our church asked that the teacher that Sunday be the one who struggled with that topic the most, not the least, the most because it’s a more authentic presentation. So three weeks ago, our pastor who’d actually been hospitalized for panic attacks was the one who taught the sermon on how not to have an anxious existence, right? And so what I heard was people saying, I’ve struggled with this and this is where I’ve met Jesus in that struggle. And I never heard that growing up. I always heard hold on, white knuckle perfection. One of the only times my dad ever was vulnerable with me about his struggles was when he said, Hey, I couldn’t confess my sin to anybody in the church because then I wouldn’t be worthy to go into that pulpit and say, Thus saith the LORD, which is a bogus thing to believe, right? So I saw people who were open to accountability from the top down. I had everyone around me so authentically chasing after this Jesus, that it was contagious. And it was something I wanted to have.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s powerful. You know, Ryan, one of the things that you really nailed there was this idea of authenticity. And that seemed to be lacking in the way that you’re raised. Everything was kind of masked it seems like. Trying to put on a face, put on a front, stamping down questions, stamping down doubt, and stamping down that idea of exploring. Yet you see the kind of refreshing spirit of people who are just authentically searching together, right? So that’s, I think, an important hallmark for us to remember in our local churches, that sense of authenticity. Another thing you touched on was this idea of adventure and exploring. That adventure can be a part of our lives, just how we experience things. But that adventure, that spiritual adventure, that exploring, and that discovering new things, talk to us a little bit about how, as a church, we can kind of engage people and invite people into that idea of exploration and why that was an important part of your journey.

Ryan George 
Yeah, so one of my pastors has his PhD in experiential education. Well, that was his master’s, and his PhD is in ethnography, where you look at a group, a subculture, and try to figure out how that works. But he would take, literally, he was trained and was paid to take people into the desert to do physically hard things up to 40 days at a time, I think. And then he would tell people, he’s like, alright, you just rock climbed for the first time, or you just climbed ice for the first time, or whatever it is. This was an arbitrary line that you never thought you could cross. What’s something back home that now you might consider as an arbitrary line, something hard that you can lean into? Well, when you bring that into your faith, we only have faith when we have doubt, fear, or both. You don’t have faith when you have certainty, right? They’re opposed to each other. And so what we do is we dare each other in my Wednesday night group, in my other small groups we have, we are like, okay this week, how can I dare you to lean into that thing that you think is so hard, this big surrender, this big obedience, this big forgiveness, or whatever it is? That the man that came to Jesus said, Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. So is it, Lord I forgive, help my lack of forgiveness? Is it Lord, I want to be generous, but help my lack of generosity? Or whatever it is. And we dare people one week at a time and say, hey, we just read this scripture, how is this hard for you? Lean into that, right? And it’s calling out. It’s not like the very hyper-masculine conferences or anything like that. It’s just saying you can do hard things. You just saw someone else do it. One of the other values along with that is, at our church, we teach leaders to give everybody else the gift of going second. So as authentic and as deep as you want your circle to go, you have to go and you have to go first. And so what I’ve seen so many times is when I’ve leaned into that adventure of going, I really don’t want to tell people this. I go first and I go that deep so that it sets the standard for everybody else. And because everybody knows I’m an adventurer, I’m an adrenaline rush guy, like, well, if Ryan is doing it, I guess I will too. Well, they do that in nature space, physical adventure, but now in a spiritual place they go well, if Ryan is gonna go there, I guess I can, too. And I’ve had guys confess all kinds of crazy stuff in their marriages, their parenting, in their business, or whatever because I was willing to dive into that adventure first.

Jason Daye 
Yeah. So it is really looking at this idea of disciples journeying together, being open and vulnerable, so that we can find that healing and wholeness in Christ as we lock arms with one another, is what it sounds like. Which literally sounds like the early church, right? Yeah, this isn’t rocket science here. I absolutely love that. Now, Ryan, in your book, Hurt and Healed by the Church, you walk through some things about when churches are unsafe, and that they use some particular things. When churches are safe they do things differently. Can you walk us through some of those things that we can reflect upon in our own ministry settings and say, Hey, maybe we’re creating some unsafe environments? How can we create some more safe environments? What were some of those areas or some of those topics that you recognized?

Ryan George 
Yeah, I think one of the big ones is the sense of control. When you look at a church and how it communicates about itself, how does it talk about power or strata? In our church, they got rid of labels, Sunday mornings we sit around tables, there’s a very short sermon, and setup table times. It was less about the infrastructure, right? So when I come into a church and there’s a lot of power and a lot of platform, the senior pastor doesn’t talk to anybody, they get whispered off backstage to a green room or whatever, that’s a red flag to me. One of the biggest ones in my youth that I still see, sermons that get shared online or whatever, is when anger is part of the presentation. That’s not the heart of Jesus. And a lot of people like to point to him going into the temple and cracking the whips. But there are several problems with that. One is he never turned around the disciples said, Hey, go and do likewise. Or hey, come join me or make your own whips. And then in Romans it says, there’s none righteous, no, not one. So there’s no such thing as righteous anger. And so if I see some angst during the presentation unless it’s about an injustice in the world that we’re all feeling about. What’s going on in Israel or something like that right now, and Gaza, both. So if I see anger, that’s a red flag to me. One of the other things is if I don’t see any women having a voice anywhere in leadership. They’re not in an elder team, they’re on a management team or something, to where I know that every woman in my church is going to feel safe coming forward with their own story. Will they ever look into the eyes of a woman who nods and says, I see you? 30 to 40% of the women in American churches have been sexually assaulted. That’s a really high number. And my wife says that might actually be a low number. She’s the women’s pastor of our church. If that’s the case, then how can we make sure that they feel safe to come forward and tell their story? The other is, is the pastor, you might have to do some asking around and the people who listen to your show watch your show could do this, is the pastor accountable to anybody? Like who does he confess to? Is it a counselor? I’m okay with that. Is it a board of elders? Whatever it is, it can’t be just his wife, right? There has to be some sort of accountability for everybody. I want to see everybody in the church participating in some sort of egalitarian sharing of some sort. Around a table, in a counselor’s office, or what have you. So those are some things that I look for and that my church sets the standard for. Not that it gets it all right. Definitely, for sure not. But then I go, Oh, one of the reasons when I wrote this book is, why did I feel so safe in our church? Because the church that I had been going to for the last 18 years didn’t have those things in the church.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, no, that’s very helpful. Ryan, as you’re reflecting on your experiences, and this huge shift that you’ve seen in your life from seeing God as someone that you had to just kind of cringe and hope you’re worthy enough to seeing God as someone who has invited, is even pursuing you, but inviting you on this grand adventure of life and pouring into you? Moving from angst and anger to love and compassion, those things. What have you sensed? Even in conversations that you’ve had with others, what have you sensed that the church can really be leaning more into when it comes to reaching people? Not only those who’ve experienced a church trauma, but even those on the outside who have never stepped into a church, but they hear these stories, or they see the church as being very anti things very against things, kind of angry at the world. What are some things that you’ve learned through your experience and through conversations with others that you think churches can really lean into more to help open themselves up, not only to those who have been traumatized but those who aren’t even willing to check the church out in the first place?

Ryan George 
Yeah, want to just tell people, Hey, I see you, I believe you. I don’t doubt that what you’re saying is true, right? Because in the faith system I grew up in anybody who had an opinion, or a story different from what the guy in the front of the room had, it was his word or everybody else’s, right? That was it. So that’s one. Two is to make sure that you have counselors in your church. I live in a town where I have Liberty University 15 minutes from here and I have three other universities. Counseling is a major thing where I live because it’s one of the biggest college degrees you can get in my town. But because of that, we have counselors all over the place. My wife, next week, is taking a team of counselors to Ukraine to do trauma therapy for children on the frontlines. And so she was able to recruit a bunch of counselors here. So maybe it’s a little bit richer field here than what most people have. But to have people in the church or care ministries to say, Yeah, let’s talk. If you can’t afford to go to a counselor, is there somebody in the church that we can connect you with? Not to tell you that what you experienced was different than what you remember, not to whitewash it, or Christianize, or throw some Jesus spin on it, but to just sit with somebody in their pain. Yeah, that’s probably the biggest. The other is for people to be authentic in any platform. Whether that’s on Sunday or any other day. Again, to be talking about our own struggles because it gives other people the freedom to come forward. And for some people, it might take them a year and a half. We had one guy who was coming to our church and just sat in the back for like a year and a half before he talked to anybody. But over time, if you can prove yourself to be authentic, and the way you do that is by talking about your own struggles, your own insecurities, your temptations, or whatever it is. And so as a leader, being honest and open. Now, there are different levels, right? What you’re going to talk about in front of an audience versus what we talked about in the counselor’s office are two different levels. But to figure that out over time. I’ve made the mistake, I’ve been in front of a group and talking a little too much like I talk in a counselor’s office. But through practice, and again, if you have counselors in your church, you can kind of walk through this. The other is to have egalitarian environments of leadership so that you can ask other people, how would this look to a person of color. How would this look to someone from a female perspective? How does look to a recently married? Different ages, different genders, different nationalities, races, etc. to filter your messaging through so that you don’t have to make apologies on the back end if that makes sense.

Jason Daye 
Oh, yeah, that’s really helpful. This idea of remembering that your audience is not monolithic, right? That it’s very diversified and those types of things. So how are you communicating and how are you making space available for people from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, or whatever that might be? That’s super helpful. If you were to provide some words of encouragement to people who are experiencing or have experienced church trauma or spiritual abuse, what would you encourage them with, Ryan?

Ryan George 
So I wouldn’t try to, the point isn’t to rush back to a church service or even a church building. The point is to rush to Jesus. And so what I tell people is that Jesus promises if you want me, you can find me. Like if you seek me, I’m gonna show you myself. He wants to answer that prayer. If you say, God, I want to know who you really are. And Jesus said, Hey, if you see me you see my dad. So we know that everything that we want to know about God, we can learn through Jesus, His ministry, and his words. And so what I tell people is if you read the Bible, start with the Jesus part. If you can’t read all the weird stuff, and it’s stuff that you have to put in cultural context, just read the Jesus part, and even that can be confusing enough. But then I dare people to dare Jesus to say, hey, you told me if I want to find the real you, if I want to find what hope and peace and all these things, the fruit of the Spirit, actually are and feel like, I need you to do your end of the thing. There’s a verse in Proverbs I love. It says that God gets pleasure out of hiding things. Like, almost like hide and seek. But kings and rich people find pleasure in finding them. And it’s almost like Jesus is playing hide and seek with us. He’s like, I want to show you this, but you got to come find me. I need you to come look for me. So before every vacation, I pray God, will you show me why it is I’m led to go to this country, this backpacking trail, or whatever it is. Would you reveal to me what the Sovereign moment is when I get there? And he always answers that. Why wouldn’t he if he wants to express himself to us? Why wouldn’t he? And so what happens is, when he answers that other people are chasing after the real Jesus, too. And you show up in this environment, you look around and find out, hey, we might not be in a church building, but I’m surrounded by other people chasing the same guy. And hopefully, those become safe hearts. It’s like if you go to a Taylor Swift concert or you go to see your favorite podcaster live, I did that this past weekend. You get there and you may come alone, but you don’t leave alone, right? Because you met other people who are fans of the person you came to see. And so if we can lean into being fans of Jesus and saying God, will you reveal Yourself to me? He’s gonna answer that. And he’s going to answer that not just for you, but for people around you.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I love that, Ryan. That’s super helpful. Ryan, I’d like to give you, as we kind of wind down, the opportunity to just speak to your brothers and sisters who are serving on the frontlines of ministry. What words of encouragement would you leave with them?

Ryan George 
It’s funny that you say that because I was a little discouraged today in my ministry because of how many texts I’m getting from people that I am shepherding. It’s that some days will be hard, right? And that does not mean that God wants us out of it. It just means that he wants us to learn something from it. And so I have hope that there’s going to be fun ahead. I’m going out in the desert to ride motocross, right? Like, there are things I’m looking forward to, to alleviate the pressure of ministry. It’s heavy, I watched it. My wife, I mean, she’s shepherding 40-something women right now, right? And you just go, yeah, that’s heavy. When you’re getting texts at 11 o’clock at night, that’s heavy. But what you’re doing is a beautiful thing. And at the end of our life, when we look back at the sacrifices we made to answer those calls, to show up with those dinners, or whatever it is, that’s the legacy we’re going to want. And I think Jesus will smile and say, Well done, good and faithful servant. And not that we’re doing it for the “well done, good and faithful servant”, and not that we’re superstitious. But if we focus on the reward. So one of the things I love to do is I love to bungee jump and I love to base jump off of mountains and stuff. And people are always amazed to learn that I’m scared of heights. But I do the thing that scares me. I do the hard thing because I know the reward is proportional to my fear. The way our dopamine system works, the more scared you are, the more reward you get. And I found that in ministry, the harder it is, the longer we’re in this season before somebody gets a breakthrough, the bigger that reward is, right? When you’ve been ministering to this person for a year and a half and then they decide to get baptized, it makes all of that worth it. And so for me this morning, those hard texts were just like me at the edge of the bungee platform getting ready to jump and going yeah, this is hard right now, but it’s about to be good. I don’t know when it’s about to be good, but it’s about to be good.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I love that. Great word, brother. Now, Ryan, if people want to connect with you or connect with your ministry, you have a very cool ministry, you can talk a little bit about that, share some details about that, or get your book, what’s the best way for them to learn more about your ministry or connect with you?

Ryan George 
To connect with me online the easiest is Instagram. I’m @ryplane. All of my ministry stuff, my books, and everything’s at BooksByRyan.com. I co-lead and co-founded a ministry called Dude Group. We’re an outdoor spiritual adventure community. So we study the Bible and pray over each other every week outdoors. Sometimes we do service projects together with guys from multiple different churches. Tonight, we’re meeting at a park about a mile and a half from my house and sitting around a fire pit. But we got guys ages 17 to 80 in the group and it’s a men’s only group. But the principle is the same. We found our spiritual pathway. So depending on which framework you use, there are seven or nine spiritual pathways. Mine’s outdoors. So when I started, I said, Hey, I’m going to call to the subset of people around here who love and feel closest to God outdoors. And so if you’re not comfortable around a fire, I can recommend you to several other groups in town. But being outside, we’ve done it in a pool, we’ve literally been in the water while we study the Word of God. So yeah, that’s the ministry I run and you can learn all about that at BooksByRyan.com.

Jason Daye 
Awesome, brother. I certainly appreciate it. Thank you so much for hanging out with us. I want to encourage you guys to check out Ryan’s most recent book, Hurt and Healed by the Church. It’s the absolutely amazing story of redemption that Ryan has experienced. And for all of you who are watching, be sure to go to PastorServe.org/network. There you will get the toolkit for this episode with all those resources, and we’ll have links to Ryan’s Instagram, we’ll have links to Ryan’s books and his ministry, and all those things in there. So if you’re out running right now, or you’re driving in the car and you can’t jot everything down, just be sure to go to PastorServe.org/network and you can get the full toolkit for this episode. Brother, it’s been so good to hear your story and hear how Christ has been at work in your life and through your life. Thank you so much for making time to hang out with us.

Ryan George 
Oh, man, thanks for having me.

Jason Daye 
All right, brother. God bless you.

Jason Daye
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.

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