071 – Questions, Doubts, and Deconstructing (With David Hayward, The Naked​ Pastor)

What is deconstruction? How do I face all these questions? Why do I feel so alone in this?

We all have questions. Sometimes we have doubts. We all have times of unlearning what we once thought we knew. But what we don’t always have is a community to share these things with. It can seem lonely to be isolated with all these questions and have nowhere to turn, but you are not alone!

This week, we are talking with David Hayward, but you might know him better as “the Naked Pastor”. Through art and writing, David provides a sense of comfort to the many of us who are facing deconstruction by showing us we are not alone and we are not broken. There is beauty in the asking and though many around us might view us as challengers, backslidden, or even heretics, the truth is much simpler; we just want to know God without all the filters that water down His message. If this resonates with you then take a listen. You might be amazed that you’re not the only one with these thoughts and that you are most likely a lot closer to God than you give yourself credit for. 

View Transcription (by Otter.ai)

We are sitting here with David Hayward. You may know him better online as the naked Pastor David, how are you?

David Hayward 5:42
I’m good. Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Cody Johnston 5:45
Thank you so much for taking time and joining us. Elaine and I stumbled across your comic strips by happenstance online, which I’m sure is how most people come to find him. Yeah. And they were hilarious and sad and emotional. And I realized in like 1001 ways and so we knew we had to reach out as soon as as soon as we started stumbling across

David Hayward 6:06
them. Oh, thanks. Yeah, it’s it’s funny. I started blogging back in 2005, I think and then I was already an artist. And I figured I’m going to try cartooning, just see if I can do it. And here I am, you know, how many years later you know, 1415 years later, still cartooning. So. And that’s you know, even though I write and, you know, do other art and all kinds of other things, it seems my my cartoons are the things that get spread around the most.

Cody Johnston 6:38
Yeah, I think it’s, I don’t know, for me, I can just share why why it is for me, it’s because they’re simple and relatable and straight to the point. And I love it. It’s just quickly digestible material that I’m just like, he gets it. So I

David Hayward 6:51
know that they say a picture’s worth 1000 words right? People are so quick these days right there swiping and you know, scrolling and everything in it.

I can communicate something in a couple of seconds and one picture, then I think I’ve accomplished something. So yeah, like I tried to keep it to one frame and keep it simple. And they seem to be working, you know, yeah.

Cody Johnston 7:13
So just let’s dive into a bit of your backstory and and how you became the naked pastor.

David Hayward 7:21
Yeah. Maybe first of all clear up the name because a lot of people you know,

wonder why in the world, I call myself the naked pastor.

And also, I used to actually be a pastor of local churches. I left the ministry in 2010. But I chose the name because I was a pastor at the time. And I wanted to be open and honest and transparent, vulnerable, tell my story as a pastor with no, you know, no masks on no glossing the story or sweetening at or making it look better than it was I wanted to be really honest about what it was like to be a pastor of local church. And so that’s what naked pastor means. And so, you know, I, I grew up Christian, you know, in the church and everything. I came to faith in a Baptist Church youth group, when I was like, 15. And, you know, then we went from there. I was baptized Anglican, as a baby, first of all, which I think down there is Episcopal, and, you know, moved around, went to Pentecostal church and went to Pentecostal Bible College. That’s where I met Lisa. But I went to Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, which is evangelical Seminary in Boston area, and then I got ordained Presbyterian. You know, I’ve been around the block, you know, and I call myself my own Ecumenical Movement, because I’ve been everywhere, but yeah, so. And then I ended up in the vineyard church. Have guys heard of that?

Unknown Speaker 8:58
Yes, I haven’t. Yeah.

David Hayward 9:02
So it’s a kind of a mixture of evangelical and Pentecostal and modern progressive kind of stuff. And, and I’m so I past heard of in your church for many years. And then that’s when I left the ministry in 2010. Some people say, I haven’t really left the ministry, because I’m doing similar stuff online. I have an online community called The Last Supper, a group of people who are, you know, questioning their beliefs, you know, and deconstructing, we call it and I help people every day process stuff, you know, that they don’t feel they’re allowed to do in the church or whatever. And so it’s, yeah, it’s an exciting life. Yeah. And so I’m very busy online doing all the stuff I do with the cartoons and my writing and, you know, courses and my online community and, you know, interacting with different people at different times,

Cody Johnston 9:53
what led to you leaving the ministry full time?

David Hayward 9:57
I think

it I always found myself gravitating to churches, where I felt I could really grow in my own way, like, I felt the freedom to be me. And so the last church I was in, I felt really free, I felt really free to be me, but then I had a sort of some spiritually dramatic kind of growth spurts that let’s say, that made me feel well, it threatened other people in the congregation, they started wondering if I even believed in God or you know, you know, all this kind of thing. And, and I wasn’t strong enough in my evangelicalism, you know, kind of thing, right. And so, it was a great community, a wonderful people. I had a great leadership team, the wonderful church, you know, wonderful services and music and everything, but I just felt the time would come for me to, we called it an amicable divorce, where they went their way and I went my way that we were no longer really theologically compatible. So that’s when I, I left that was in 2010.

Cody Johnston 11:13
What was it like leaving, like a structured, traditional, or, you know, like, the actual church, like what most people would have envisioned church to be, and then going and kind of doing more of an online community and reaching out to these people who, who have church hurt, who have been through things in church? What was that transition, like, emotionally?

David Hayward 11:31
Well, do you guys go to church?

You know, so, my backstory, I was a pastor as well. I got into ministry, I got into ministry whenever I just turned 19. So right out of high school, I’ve been in church my whole life as well. She came to church in her teen years,

Elaine Johnston 11:51
whenever I was a teenager, I was in a Baptist Church as well and kind of got connected in youth group.

Cody Johnston 11:56
And so I’ve been in church, like my whole life, I was the one that was like, praise. You know, I was leader of the worship team at 15. Like, that’s just that’s my backstory as well. And so I started serving in church as a youth pastor and worship pastor and I was there until I was 23. Whenever we kind of left on, it was just, there was a lot that can go into that. But it was just kind of a very large disagreement between myself and the leadership there. And just some, some tension, it was just kind of little things. Honestly, I had been feeling like I was not the right puzzle piece for the whole that I was trying to be putting in the first place for a little while. And I just kind of ignored that for long and just built up tension for everyone. And it was my time to go well, I’ve had enough church hurt from the church. I was that previously and then that one, and then I kind of I was really, I walked away. I’ve been done with church so many times in my life. I have walked away one time. Yeah, I walked away one time after. So we had a when I was a teenager, I had a like a praise and worship band, like we’d travel other churches. While we were also the praise and worship band at the church. And we got griped out for borrowing the drums we were told to borrow one of the little old ladies told my drummer she wishes his sticks would break so he quit playing and service. And I was told I was to be seen not heard playing guitar on stage to keep the youth calm. So I left I’m like I’m never seven foot back in another really stupid buildings. And I ended up at a church and I’m like I’m never seven foot back on stage ended up being the worship pastor and of course, again, stepped out. So right now we’re taking a more nomadic approach

Elaine Johnston 13:34
to church in and out of different churches, different denominations, like we we left the church, I we left the church I year and a half ago, yeah, over a year and a half ago. And so we’ve kind of been in and out. But we don’t really have like, a church homework community that we just go to every week.

David Hayward 13:53
Yeah, well, that’s why I asked you guys, because like, what Lisa and I will visit a church, there’s a certain church, you know, it’s an hour or more away, so we don’t get there much. And Lisa worship work as a nurse, but there’s a church we go, we feel safe out. And it’s really good and gracious. And you know, there’s no pressure or at all, so we’ll visit that. But I’ll tell you, and you guys probably know that and that this, this is why I asked you, I think the church’s greatest commodity is community. I mean, when you walk into a church, you’re handed community on a platter, you’ve got an instant network of relationships, and meetings and babysitters and you know, you name it, you’re just handed all these relationships on a platter, and hopefully, it’ll work. Now, unfortunately, I see a lot of churches abuse that incredible asset. So when a lot of people leave the church, there’s a sudden onslaught of real loneliness. And and we don’t know, where, where can you find anything like that where you can make friends. And you know, and you know, I’d also have hard times making friends like Lisa and I’ve had to work hard at real establishing relationships with people and working up a network of friends that the church gave us, we’re just by being there, right. So you know, that’s, that’s been the hardest thing for me, online relationships, I value them, they’re real. You know, I, they’re, they’re really great friends I have that I’ve met I’ve never met face to face, but there is something about the face to face, right. And, you know, so I have to work on those that on one relationships on two levels. So my online relationships, I value and nurture those and are face to face relationships, we value and we nurture those, but it’s a lot of work. And, you know, I know a lot of people who’ve left the church who just end up really lonely, because, you know, it is a lot of work to, to build up relationships with friendships. So you guys might know.

Cody Johnston 15:50
Yeah, and I know, you’ll relate to this too. But when you come out of a place of leadership, and you stepped down, and you’re still you still want to have relationships with those people you care about, but at the same time, so sometimes you may not always be deemed in the best light or you right, kind of appear as a threat. I know I’ve been in situations like that, where it’s like, well, I fear saying so many things, or I don’t want to talk I have people that like want to want to talk to me about stuff. And it’s just not my passion, because I don’t want to inadvertently say the wrong thing. Like they’re still there. They’re still actively like field, that’s where they’re supposed to be at. And it’s not my mission to try to pull them out of that. Like, no, that’s that’s where they’re at. And so you try to maintain those things. But then at the same time, like, you’re still considered like pretty churchy. Like, we still have like a lot of churchy attributes. And so like the people that were drawn to, like, I was kind of laughing because I’m like, man, we’re drawn to these people who, like want nothing to do with church. And we came out of like church leadership. So I guess we get it. But at the same time, like, I’m like, how do I talk? I don’t know what I’m doing here.

Elaine Johnston 16:51
That’s why we pursued podcasting was because we missed that community, we were able to see those people all the time. And so like, that’s what podcasters is to us that that is our community.

David Hayward 17:02
Right. Right. Yeah. And, and like I said, the online relationships I have, and the people that reach out to me, like so for example, today, I did a post on questions, questioning your beliefs can be scary. So you know, I’ve already heard from a couple people are ready today, like, yeah, this is really scary. I have nobody to talk to, I don’t know what to do. How do I do this? How do I proceed? You know, when you’re in the church, you can process stuff, maybe not questions depends, but you know, you can process stuff and you’ve got fellowship and support and people who will pray for you, you know, all that stuff, right? When you’re outside of the church, all of a sudden, you’re on your own, you really are. It’s when you leave the church, I compare them to spiritual refugees, you’re just on your own, you have no resources, you have no home, you have no country. You know, you have no citizenship anywhere. And where do these people gather? Except in, you know, internment camps or something, right. Like it’s a, it really is a difficult space for a lot of people to be in. And on top of that, if you’ve been in leadership or ministry, or were a pastor or something like that, you know, you slap that whole dynamic onto that. You know, it’s it’s a horrible, traumatic adjustment for a lot of people for sure.

Cody Johnston 18:19
Why are churches so afraid of people questioning the faith? Why is that such a big deal?

David Hayward 18:25
Oh, because it’s chaotic. You. The, the one thing is, any relationships, the problem is control any relationship from a marriage to parents, children, to a classroom, to, you know, a business to church, it’s so important, you control the people, that somehow you keep things in order, right? Questions are going to upset that they’re gonna be they’re going to inject chaos into the community. And personally, I like chaos, because chaos, chaos can be creative. There’s a lot of churches that just are threatened and leadership that’s threatened by chaos and by questions because you know, it What, what would a pastor prefer somebody who is who is confident in their faith, and in their belief, and never question and totally obedient and totally righteous, and totally always on their game? Or somebody who’s like, I don’t know, I don’t know, if I believe in hell anymore. You know, I’m really struggling here, which which you prefer? You know, on the one hand, you’ve got, you know, somebody who’s really dealing with real questions, but it’s messy and chaotic and unpredictable. And on the other hand, you’ve got, you know, it’s very clean, controllable, and predictable.

Cody Johnston 19:49
I agree. I agree. Churches definitely. Whether they realize it or not, it’s all about control. And I feel like that’s a big epidemic in modern church, I guess. Because, honestly, I think from from the pastoral background, sometimes it’s not even like, I want to control people, as I just want to get through today and not have to deal with more drama. And so it’s easier, it makes your life easier. Whenever things just go according to plan, just like anything, if things are just going with a flow, you don’t have to try to fight against it, or you don’t have to try to think and I think that’s a big issue to with with church nowadays is we kind of spoon feed everyone. And we don’t actually try to take in information for ourselves or ask, Well, why do we think this? Why do we think that? And I think that there’s just, there’s a lack of, of questions in church. And then the ones that do ask questions kind of

Elaine Johnston 20:42

Cody Johnston 20:43
Yeah, kind of cut out from the pack. So in that same vein, what, uh, let’s just talk for a second about someone who is maybe starting to have questions. So when you were starting to question things, what were some of those initial thoughts? And the reason I ask is because there I’m sure there’s a lot of people and that are in church, and we kind of cater toward people who are out of church because they ask questions, and also people who are on the forefront, who just don’t feel safe in their church asking the questions they have. So catering to that, that second crowd, you have a group of people who are noticing, like, I’m, I have these thoughts, but I don’t feel safe going anywhere. What is that? Like? What does that look like? What does that feel like? Initially?

David Hayward 21:24
Before I answer that, can I can I just round up a previous thought? Like, I don’t know if you guys are parents or not, but with our kids, like, we have three adult kids, it’s life is so much easier, if they would all just be good, squeaky clean kids, and never explore, never take risks. never do anything different than what’s expected. always obey. You know, it just makes life so much easier. And it’s not, you know, even even to this day, they’re all adults. And they like doing adventure things, right, like climbing mountains and jumping out of airplanes and deep sea diving with sharks and whales. And, you know, I’m like, why can’t you just, you know, stay home on your computer. It’s just a legitimate, this life’s just easier when when people you know, walk that narrow line. So that’s, that’s why, you know, I, I don’t, you know, necessarily condemn, you know, leaders who discourage questions and all that it’s more like it’s more comfortable. It’s just easier. Life’s just easier when you avoid questions. But for the individual, however, like you, or you or me, when we we start asking questions, you know, for me, for me, it was the inefficiency and an inspiration of Scripture that’s like, I always been a Bible for ever since I was in my youth, like I had a Bible, I had it all underlined in every color of the rainbow notes in the margins, you know, the inter linear Bible, the New International Version, Bible, the Living Bible, the good news for modern man by, you know, you name I had everything. And then I went to Bible college and got a degree in Bible and then I went to seminary and got another degree in New Testament, and I went, I studied, you know, Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic. You know, I was, I was into the Bible, totally. And, and then then all of a sudden, it was like, I started to read this one book, and it started, it really rocked my assumptions about the inspiration in the energy of Scripture that, you know, maybe this isn’t all inspired by God and divinely, you know, downloaded out of heaven, onto paper, or parchment or whatever. Right. And so for me, it was like the Jenga tower, you know, the Django block game? And for me, the inspiration of Scripture was the very bottom one that pulled out and everything crumbled. That’s, that’s how it started with me. Yeah, way back. I, I wondered, okay, is Was it a whale? Or a great fish? That’s right. Yeah. Or, you know, was the earth created in six days? Or, you know, all this kind of thing? And, but what when it came to, you know, the historical Jesus, for example, and what did he say? And what Didn’t he say? and all this kind of thing? That’s when that’s when everything started to crumble for me.

Cody Johnston 24:32
At what point in the crumbling did you realize, like you couldn’t bring these types of things to your, to your church? Or were you ever in a place where you felt like you couldn’t share? What was on your mind at your church? Was that ever a controversy for you?

David Hayward 24:48
On the one hand, I felt I was really vulnerable and transparent, because I was the naked pastor while I was a pastor, and the people knew that. And I was doing my cartoons and poking fun and, you know, critic, critiquing the abuses of the church, and, you know, making fun of pastors, because I was one and you know, all this kind of thing. And on the one hand, I felt I was really honest, but also at the same time, I was going through my own internal story, of deconstructing and questioning, and, and everything, and, you know, it was in, it was about 2009, when things started really unraveling quickly. And I sort of had the spiritual breakthrough. And then and then I started writing about it and my blog on naked pastor calm. And, you know, up to that point, my, my congregation, they never read my blog, they were like, we got we have to listen to you twice a week, why do we want to read your blog kind of thing? And, and so, you know, I was just writing about my spiritual process, and all that kind of thing. But they they were hearing from other people from other churches, Hey, what’s going on with your past? And I was getting calls from, you know, the higher ups and my denomination, you know, maybe you should run your post through us first, so we can approve them or not. And I’m like, blue. I saw the incoming, then when, yeah, I get.

Elaine Johnston 26:18
So how has writing or drawing these comic strips helped you or helped others with their deconstructing and questioning their faith?

David Hayward 26:27
You know, what I think the big thing is, you know, what I think the biggest thing they do is they validate people. Yeah, questions, I can relay. People are like, Holy smokes, I’m not alone, I’m not going crazy like this to somebody else who gets it, you know, they, they, they’ve been through this, this, this must happen to other people. Because most most people out there who are deconstructing the are keeping it secret, they don’t want their families to find out or even their spouse to find out for their parents or their kids or, or their church especially, or their pastor, right. And then to find out that there’s, there’s thousands and hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of us out there who have the same questions. And the same struggles. It’s very validating for for these people. And that starts a whole other journey. It’s like, Okay, this is a thing, this is real, this is, this is a thing, I must be on some kind of a spiritual growth spectrum thing, I’m going to check this out, and they start, you know, affirming themselves and seeing this as a normal part of spiritual growth. Because, you know, in any kind of spiritual growth, you you have to go through a dark valley, you have to go through a dark night of the soul, you have to go through night, you have to go through a deep period of deep questioning, right? It’s just normal in any, any discipline, any religion, any spiritual growth. There’s, there’s got to be that period of time when you you question everything. So that’s what my cartoons do. I think number one is they just validate people and they’re like, Okay, I’m not alone. I’m not crazy.

Cody Johnston 27:59
For people who are deconstructing, since we’ve used that term. What is like? How can they find community? Because like, you were saying, it’s, it’s mostly internal. It’s something that starts because honestly, I don’t know if this is normal for everyone, kind of like what you were saying, we all kind of start in our mind, and we’re thinking about it. And I know with me, and I’ve probably had a couple of times in my life where I’ve, like, quote, unquote, deconstructed things, and even recently, I’m, I’m in that phase. Now, I’m like, wow, there’s so much controversy in this book. And there’s a lot of things that contradict and what’s truth? And what is and did Paul really write these books? And is hell really a place? And I’m in that mode to you know, like, I think a lot of us are, and how can we help people realize that a they’re not alone and be helped find community on the other side, whenever typically asking questions like that is often frowned upon in their, in their current communities?

David Hayward 28:53
That’s such an important question. Really, really. Because like I said, the churches greatest asset, you know, besides, you know, having the truth, and Jesus got all that stuff is his community. And the number one symptom of people who leave the church, I think, mostly what I see is loneliness. But how do you, how do you gather? Right? Yeah, yeah, it’s a, you know, first of all, here’s something I’ve noticed that a lot of people who leave the church, they’re suspicious of authority anymore, and leadership. And yeah, groups. Yeah. Like, they’re, like, I, I was screwed over by so many, you know, groups or communities or whatever, that were promising to help me that, you know, I’m very aware of that. And I would totally respect that. Their suspicion of leadership and people who claim to be gurus or, or leaders or, you know, whatever. And, and they’re very suspicious of groups. So my online community, I call it the last thing supper, there’s not like I even though I’m the facilitator, it’s very hands off. And we just talk and, you know, and it’s all online, it’s very safe, there’s no meetings, there’s, you know, you come when you want you leave, when you want to speak when you want, you don’t have to say a thing, you can lurk, or you can be totally involved. So, I think that’s what’s working for people. It’s very, very safe. I’m even, you know, you know, even after all these years, and I already mentioned, I all visited church now and then, but I’m very suspicious now. of, you know, churches and communities and things like that. And you know, what I’ve tried, I’ve tried other things to replace community. I even tried Toastmasters. Have you heard of Toastmaster? Yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 30:59
Yeah. Right.

David Hayward 31:00
And it was like, and this just, this feels a lot the same. I feel like, you know, I’ve got all these expectations, and, and, you know, time limits, and, you know, I got to be presenting myself and I got to be doing this and doing that. And I got to be at a certain place at a certain time for so long. And you know, all this kind of stuff. It just was way too triggering. So, and I think a lot of people find that with the, and that’s the difficulty with people who are leaving the church is like I said, they’re like spiritual refugees. Where Where do you? Where do you gather, it’s it is really difficult thing.

Cody Johnston 31:33
Well, and I think churches, this is what led to a lot of our hurt as well. But the abuse of this thing, I’m going to save it, like churches do a fantastic job of garnering intimacy, because you have that vulnerability. And anytime you’re vulnerable with someone you give, like, it gives a sense of security and intimacy with these people, you can talk about your struggles, you can talk about these things. The problem is it’s you can do this within limitation. And a lot of people I think, walked away feeling like anything, they may have said at some point, maybe something I brought back up, it’d

Elaine Johnston 32:03
be used against them, because it happened to us.

Cody Johnston 32:07
And so then anytime moving forward. And I’m sure you understand this, because you’ve been in this game quite a bit longer than us. But getting people to connect is hard, because they’re afraid. So it’s easy on something like Reddit, where everyone can hide behind a username, right? Taking it across the board to something where even like Facebook, it’s smaller, and it gets smaller, the more you can find out about someone, the less likely someone is to share because they’re hurt, right? In intimate they’ve been vulnerable before. And now they’re in this place where I mean, it takes time to build up trust with people again. And in like you said, there’s this much greater awareness, I feel like, so I have a vision board hanging on my wall over here, like everything, because we do that a new year, like, Hey, this is what we want our new year to look like, this is our goals for the year, etc. Things we want to work on. And I have on mine plastered in the middle and it says I’m goat. And because not that I necessarily identify as a goat. But I’m like if I walk into a church, like these poor people, because I can pick them apart so quickly. And I don’t need to do that. But it’s just my reaction now. Like, I can find all of these things that like, and it’s really for like my own self preservation, right? Because that’s what we all want is to feel safe. Right? And so I feel bad walking into churches. And that’s kind of why we’re in a phase right now where we’re trying to be more nomadic, because if I put down roots anywhere, and then especially if anywhere, finds out my past in ministry, and what all I’ve done, it goes from like, Hi, you’re in the, like the pews to come, you know, come do something. And I’m like, you don’t want me there right now, because I am probably not healthy for you in that moment. And so I don’t know if you have any, any relation to that or not. But that’s like where I’m at right now. So identify with,

David Hayward 33:52
yeah, I, there was a time after I left the ministry, and the church in 2010 words, and you’ll get this is what, what do I do with my life? I mean, I’m missing

Unknown Speaker 34:07
my colleagues.

David Hayward 34:08
Yeah, I know, my, it’s so traumatic for pastors who leave the ministry, and leaders who leave the Ministry of any kind. Because our whole identity, our, the way we shaped our character, our destiny, you know, our any prophetic words you might have got, and you know, all this kind of stuff, the meaning of life, her purpose, your calling, vocation, you know, I went from the doing ministry to teaching in a university for two years. And now I’m I do my own businesses. And like, it’s, it’s just, yeah, it’s just hugely traumatic. So there was, there was a time there, I was wondering, should I maybe start something or, you know, maybe start a home group kind of thing with my own life? Or should I, maybe I actually did that I actually rented a room a couple of times, and made announcements where I was going to do a presentation on, you know, I don’t want to go to church anymore. Now, what kind of thing or you know, talk, and, you know, a few of my friends would show up or something. Like, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, you know, and it took a long time for me to finally break free from all that stuff. Now, you know, it’s, it’s been nine years now. So I feel very clean. Now going into a church. I don’t feel any strings attached. I don’t feel like I’m going to get triggered. I don’t feel like I’m going to get pulled back in, you know, like the Godfather. Just when you think you’re cool. You know, it’s so I feel totally beyond that now. And very happy and very free. But it took a heck of a long time. Took the year. Yeah, it took years.

Cody Johnston 36:01
I think that’s beautiful, too, is just giving people time, right? Yeah, yeah. And I think in, at least in the environment, I’ve come out of we were a group of people that didn’t know how to not do it was like, everything has to be do something, do something, do something because our value is wrapped up in what we did, you know, more so than just being an existing. And so that’s something like I’m having to learn and I’m still, I’m a year and a half out of it, that I’m still going through this, like I don’t have to constantly be doing to have value or purpose to other people to myself to God. And so that’s that’s been a huge thing. So thank you for saying that. You have a comic strip that we saw. And it was, and I apologize if this is slightly off. It’s been a couple weeks, I’ve seen it. It was a person walking away. And one of the the clips was they had a thought bubble with questions. And they were just walking with their questions. And then it came from the other perspective,

Elaine Johnston 36:54
Satan was carrying them away from the church.

Unknown Speaker 36:57
Oh, yeah.

Cody Johnston 36:58
And I loved it so much, because I’m like, Wow, that is that dead on? So from someone who has these questions, how can they help their friends, because a lot of us still do try to keep connections with those that we were close to? How can we help other people? Or do you have a message for other people on the other side to help realize that maybe Satan is in guard? Maybe they’re not backsliding? Let’s just put it that way?

David Hayward 37:23
Yeah, I have a few cartoons like that. So there’s one where I think it’s a woman leaving the church and and she’s having questions. And I think it says on above her, spiritually growing maybe, and then the people inside the church have thought bubbles, she’s backsliding, she’s being deceived, you know, and all this kind of thing. And, you know, that’s part of the, that’s part of the growth process, is when your beliefs are changing. There’s that weird time when you’re still believing the stuff you no longer believe in. Like, it’s really bizarre. So a lot like, you know, if I A lot of people say, Well, why don’t you just stop? Like, it’s just like, not believing in Santa or the tooth fairy or whatever? Like, no, no, no, this is different, like, because it’s, like, totally unmatched in our lives and in our thinking, and everything. And I remember lying in my bed at night, breaking out in a cold sweat, afraid that God was going to send me to hell, even though because I didn’t believe in hell. You’re not you know what I mean?

Unknown Speaker 38:29
No, you get that

David Hayward 38:30
you don’t believe in hell, you’re going to hell kind of thing. And it’s just that weird. It is that weird, where you’re, you know, you you’re kind of stuck in between this mythology that you really believe is true. And, and understanding that a lot of that is mythology, and trying to somehow live a new life clean, almost like getting off a drug, right? It’s like, you’re, it’s like you’re in rehab. That’s a weird place to be in because you’re no longer on drugs, but you’re still affected by them. And there’s that weird. That’s, that’s, that’s a good cartoon, I’m going to draw something like that. Is that Rehab Time? Yeah, when you’re coming off, but you’re starting clean. And, and it takes a long time, it took me a long time to really complete. And, you know, still once in a while, you know, a thoughtful Dart through my mind, that where the heck that come from. But you know, it just shows you how deeply embedded we were in in those beliefs and practices,

Cody Johnston 39:36
you know, something that really helped trigger my second round of deconstruction, if you want to call it that was kind of coming to understand the way the Jewish Bible was intended to be interpreted. Or, I guess better yet the the understanding of how, in traditional Jewish culture, the Bible is interpreted by the reader, and was supposed to be more open ended and more allegorical, and all of these things, versus our Western view of this is absolute truth. Because whoever read this in Hebrew interpreted that way, and that’s that,

Elaine Johnston 40:07
especially in the Bible Belt,

Cody Johnston 40:09
yeah, yeah. Yeah, we’re in the bible belt. So it’s even worse, I feel like, we’re really we really get it, you know, like, if it’s not God, and guns, and you’re out the door, kind of. So to be a liberal, Christian, or to have even like, a neutral mindset anywhere is like, oh, you’re one of those people, you know? And so, do you have any thoughts? I mean, just to try to help enlighten people of maybe like, hey, not everything you read has to be read this way. And that’s okay. What are some thoughts on that you have, or maybe some experiences you could share?

David Hayward 40:42
Well, it’s like I said before, for me, the the whole concept of the currency and the inspiration and everything of Scripture was central to everything I believed in, and then, you know, yeah, things like history, the Jewish method of interpretation, which is various as well, you know, the historical Jesus research. And then, you know, newer studies that are coming out about the remarkable similarities between different religions in that region at that time, and the similarities between them and all that kind of thing, and the mythologies, all this kind of thing, it just eventually, just, it’s like mice gnawing on the ropes, eventually, they’re going to snap, like, it’s just, you know, and, and, but there’s, there’s books out there, there’s teachers out there, there’s, there’s, there’s stuff out there to prepare you or to not not prepare you, because you really can’t prepare for it, to inform yourself as you’re going through it. So you, you know, you, you start by reading even evangelical Bible scholars, but then you move on to less even helical Bible scholars, Bible scholars, or liberal Bible scholars, or atheist Bible scholars, there are some, so you just keep moving along and finding books that inform you and I always recommend read over your head, you know, like, get pulled deeper into the deep end. And don’t be afraid. That’s something that I had to get over was being afraid of reading a, you know, illicit material, right?

Unknown Speaker 42:25
realizing you’re not going to go to hell for reading a book,

David Hayward 42:28
man. Oh, well, I was told I was going to I being told you shouldn’t be reading that. And, and, you know, so yeah, I just recommend, read study, research, you know, do the work, put the work in, I tried to stay physically fit, and I watch what I, I do my exercises, and I run, and, you know, I try to maintain a positive attitude. And think positive thoughts, and I, you know, I’m trying to take care of myself, I’m getting older, I want to live a longer, more, I have a lot more work to do, and I’m having fun, and I want to keep white, why don’t we put that same kind of effort into our spiritual life, and, and feed it, nourish it, you know, get a pumped up, grow, you know, and, and stretch yourself beyond where you’re, you’ve been in your whole life. So that’s what I recommend.

Cody Johnston 43:23
Well, and that’s, that’s so brilliant to me, even. So I don’t I don’t know if you’re an enneagram person or not. But we just got through going through and I’m a five apparently. So that means I want all the information I can possibly get my hands on. I’m like, Well, that makes sense. I completely agree. But one of my biggest pet peeves I used to have this conversation when I was young with my with my mother. And she’s like, well, I just don’t like reading the Bible, because I don’t understand it. Or I just don’t like trying to understand these books because I just don’t get the wording or I don’t understand what they mean by this. And my always my argument and continued on throughout my life with anyone who brings this up is just start, it doesn’t matter if you get it or not be you’re never going to get it if you don’t try like if you don’t get out there, you put yourself out there, you try to read it, you try to comprehend it. That’s the beauty of everything we get our hands on. And I think like so many times with even like with the Bible, we take it verbatim with how someone teaches it to us. But we all know and this is commonly taught in church. So we should know this, that scripture is beautiful enough to get something new out of it every single time for that person. It’s directed for you in your moment in life. You know, it’s it’s poetic, and it’s supposed to speak to us. And we should adventure out we should learn we should take on new things I know. I’ve been shunned before for studying practices of witchcraft. I’ve read part of the Satanic Bible. I have a Quran laying on my desk. People freak out sometimes at me for this. And I’m like, Why? What is so scary about understand

Elaine Johnston 44:48
the world around you, and then it’s just so condemned by the church.

David Hayward 44:53
I one time, you’re reminded me years ago, when I was a pastor of the senior church. I’d Next up, I’d read a review somewhere about this, which you wrote, wrote a book on witchcraft. I think her name was Raven wolf or something. And she wrote a book on sort of an introduction to witchcraft and, and I said, You know, I didn’t want to read that book. Because in the vineyard movement, and in the renewal movement, there was a lot of talk about witchcraft, right, in a negative way, like it, which God’s witchcraft and all that kind of thing. And so I thought, I’m going to read actually witchcraft and find out what witchcraft is actually all about. I was surprised at the similarities. Oh, yeah. And it’s in betweens, which is practice good witches, I mean, white witches. And, and what we were doing as a vineyard. So I actually preached a sermon on it, I preached a sermon on it, showing here’s the similarities between what we do, right down to Communion, making proclamations, casting out demons of regions, you know, putting hands on people and transferring, you know, blessing them or whatever, all the all this stuff. And I was drawing all these similarities. And by the way, everybody was sitting here like, Oh,

Cody Johnston 46:10
yeah, yeah, no, I it’s funny. You say, I have a friend who I used to work with. And this is what I was a pastor. And he grew up his family is kind of Catholic. But you know, it’s like, they’re Catholic descent, but they’re not practitioners of it. And we were, we used to go running at night, because we get off late, we got off at like 10 3011 o’clock at night. And so we would go running. And he was hardcore agnostic. So he was open to spiritual things, but definitely not God. And I was talking to him, and he’s like, you know, I just can’t get behind Christianity, because blood magic is way too strong for me. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, that is so weird. But so true. Like, yeah, he’s like, yeah, that’s the worst. That’s the worst type of witchcraft. I just can’t get into that kind of stuff. And I’m just like, Oh, well, okay. That’s I don’t really know how to argue that point.

David Hayward 47:01
That’s funny.

Cody Johnston 47:02
So to sum up all of this, I have a couple things Normally, we like to ask, we like to leave our guests being able to ask a question instead of a final statement, but actually have two final questions I would like you to be able to ask, one is, if you could say something to the traditional church building the way most people imagine church, if you could say something to the church institution, to try to enlighten them on behalf of these people who have stepped away? What would that be?

David Hayward 47:32
I would honestly, I’d still be there. If I was allowed to grow the way I felt I needed to, I wasn’t trying to, you know, give it the finger or betray it, or, you know, whatever. I was genuinely trying to grow with integrity. And I felt that’s always been my sort of theme in life is personal growth. And I just constantly been growing. And so I, I really do feel that that was respected and I was given space for that I’d still be there. That’s why there’s a church that Lisa and I will visit once in a while, because I feel that they offer that space for people to grow at their own rate in any direction, you know, so you have a slack on the last thing separate is very diverse. There’s people who who are believers still going to church all the way to atheists, who will never darken the door of a church again, right kind of things, and very diverse community. And I think that’s what makes a rich, you know, community is this diversity. So that’s what I would recommend is welcome the diversity and provide space for people to ask questions and to grow, and to be who they are. You know, so that that includes not just theology, but also, you know, maybe even lifestyles, so yeah, that’s good.

Cody Johnston 48:49
And then the The second thing is, if you could ask a question to help them to help someone process to give them something to think about who is maybe in the process of deconstruction, or is starting to have these questions? What question would you ask them?

David Hayward 49:02
How far down the rabbit hole

goes? How far are you willing to go? Seriously? How far are you willing to go? Because that I I honestly ask that to people who are interested in spiritual growth, how far are you willing to go? And the more open ended you are? I always tell people, when they when they say when they want to talk with me about deconstruction says, Now listen, I’m never going to give up on Jesus or on God. I just want you to know that right up front. I’m always like, Okay, well, fasten your seat belt. Let’s see what happens. Not that that they’re going to, but you can’t predict where you’re going to end up on a genuine adventure or journey or exploration. spiritual growth, you can’t you can’t predict where you’re going to end up. So that’s my question is How far are you willing to go? Good?

Unknown Speaker 50:00
Yeah. David, where can everyone find the naked pastor?

David Hayward 50:04
naked pastor calm? Make sure you keep those two words together though, because if you google naked, and pastor you’re going to see some stuff that you cannot see ya know, this naked pastor calm, that’s where I’m at. And then you know, from there, I’m on all social media as naked pastor as well. And I sell my art on Etsy, and I sell my books on Amazon. So

Cody Johnston 50:28
yeah, awesome. And we will have all of the links for everything where you can get his art you can find his his posts and read his blogs and see his comics and find him on social and find his books all in the show notes below. And David thanks so much for taking time and just

David Hayward 50:46
it’s just been like we’ve been sitting across from a table in a coffee shop because chat and it’s been good.

Cody Johnston 50:51
I love it. I love it. I’m ready for us to be able to do that. I’m ready for technology to advance for that can happen.

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David Hayward

David Hayward

Graffiti Artist on the walls of religion
David was baptized Anglican as a baby, came to faith in a Baptist church when he was a teenager, changed to Pentecostal in his late teens, married another Pentecostal named Lisa, was ordained Presbyterian, pastored a Vineyard church, went Independent, and planted others. He has a Masters in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, as well as a Diploma in Religious Studies and Ministry from McGill University in Montreal. In 2010 he left the professional paid clergy after almost 30 years of ministry. He is passionate about how people can find and follow their own spiritual path with courage and joy, as well as in how people can freely gather and form a community in healthy ways. From David – “I help people lose their faith without losing their minds. I help people undress their religion to the core essential of their own unique spirituality. I call this spiritual independence”.Visit nakedpastor.com


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The Church’s greatest commodity is community. So when a lot of people leave the church, there is this onslaught of real loneliness. - David Hayward Share on X 
In any relationship, the problem is control. Questions are going to upset and inject chaos into the community. But chaos can be creative. - David Hayward Share on X 

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