To say a little bit more about my own personal history . . .
I grew up in the Seattle area, and as a teen was heavily influenced by Young Life to see that a person’s life could be both Christian and also fun. I had seen Christianity as something that was largely boring, separated from life. But through my exposure to Young Life, I began to see that there’s a God who loves us and cares for us, and who gives us (even adolescents!) a place of belonging and affirming that’s not about conforming to peer pressure or performing well, but is a gift of acceptance in relationship that welcomes us wherever we are.
Through Young Life, I began a journey of attempting to understand what they talked about as relational theology; I found the Academy did not accept it, and so, I’ve spent the last twenty years of education plus years of teaching attempting to flesh out what it means to have a relational theology that is not merely taking psychology and putting theology on top of it as something where the theology loses its own integrity and is simply trying to interpret psychological terms, but to let theology stand on its own to discover a God who reveals in a particular way, which I think the Bible is all about, and enables us to understand the Bible and our lives because we begin to understand the very nature of who God is. When you stand in that perspective, seeing through the eyes of a God who loves and relates, then the Bible makes more sense -- then life makes more sense -- instead of seeing in some human way that comes up with a set of beliefs to somehow get us whatever we’re supposed to be looking for to find happiness or success or any of those other terms that tend to be so shaped by our human perceptions of success, and so often seem to miss what success looks like as friendship with God, neighbor, and self.