About Drew Bekius

In many ways, my story is as stereotypical American evangelical as it gets. Complete with altar calls, Bible camps, and purity rallies. Or at least it starts off that way.

I was raised in a small Baptist church in small-town Central Minnesota. Prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” when I was just three years old. Somehow spontaneously finding ourselves in the bathroom, I prayed that prayer with my mother, kneeling over the bathtub’s edge and repeating her words as my own, confessing my preschool-age sins while asking Jesus to come into my life and grant me the forgiveness I was told I had so desperately needed. From there it was a childhood of Sunday schools and AWANA programs, of youth groups and Bible studies.

profile picBut it was in the summer of 1994, that was the one right before my freshman year of high school, where my faith began to take shape beyond what I saw in my church peers. That summer I attended a Youth for Christ conference in Washington, D.C. It was billed as a peer-evangelism super-conference, equipping us with everything we’d ever need to win all our friends for Jesus. And, yes, I ate up every moment of it. The proverbial hook, line, and sinker.

I came back from that conference and started what would become an award-winning ministry initiative in my public high school, my first steps toward winning the whole world for Christ. Devoting my teen years to the Lord’s work, I jumped at every chance I could find. I volunteered as a junior counselor at Bible camp each summer, was trained by the Billy Graham Crusade and served as a floor counselor when the good reverend came to Minneapolis in 1996, preached my first Sunday morning sermon before the whole church at the age of 17. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… That was high school.

So of course it only made sense to enter Bible college. Following graduation, I packed up and left my small-town Central Minnesota roots behind and moved to the big city of Chicago where I attended the Moody Bible Institute, completing both a B.A. in pastoral studies and a Master of Divinity degree. Along the way, I pastored at two churches for a total of twelve years. The first was a part-time position on pastoral staff at a mid-size Evangelical Free church in Chicago. After this I served as lead pastor for a turnaround church associated with Converge Worldwide, formerly known as the Baptist General Conference.

But seriously, I loved pastoring and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The preaching and teaching, the organizational development and community service, the interpersonal counseling and coaching, even the hours-long board meetings. It was everything I had ever wanted professionally. And yes, I also loved the faith that served as its true foundation. I had embraced an incredibly positive and constructive, empowering and motivational, non-judgmental, non-critical, forward-thinking and hope-filled version of Christianity. Yet it was thoroughly evangelical in the sense that I believed every word of the Christian Bible was inspired by God and therefore inerrant. As a committed and serious student of the scriptures, I had found a satisfactory way to spin just about any verse in the Bible to make it fit just right within my theological system. With an unquenchable passion for God’s Word, I sought to grow in its knowledge and understanding every single day. Study was my daily hobby.

But then in the fall of 2010, I began to realize that some of those answers didn’t line up as well as I would have liked them to. And as I started dealing more critically with some of the issues I had previously pushed ever so slightly to the periphery, I began to find myself a little less satisfied by answers previously held. And that’s when it all began to unravel.

Over the next six months, I found myself increasingly overwhelmed with doubts that went as deep as to the very existence of God Himself. My prayers that God would faithfully correct my thinking and strengthen my faith gave way the following year to tormented late-night prayers, begging and pleading with the God of Wonders to reveal himself to me once again, to light my heart and soul aflame with his Spirit once more.

By the end of 2011 it became clear that I had to transition out of the ministry I had loved so dearly. Even if God were real—and I continued clinging to the hope that he might be, I had clearly lost all ability to discern such truths. Either Christian ministry was unfit for this world or I was unfit for Christian ministry, but either way I had to leave. And so I did. I transitioned out of ministry that following summer. And by the end of that year, I would finally admit to myself that I no longer believed in God. I had to let go. If for no other reason than to keep my own sanity.

It wasn’t until July of 2014 that I discovered The Clergy Project (TCP), a full two years after leaving the ministry. Even though I had known it couldn’t actually be the case, I had often felt as if I were the only Christian in the world who had lost his faith. And I had never even heard of another pastor doing so. But in The Clergy Project, I found something that I was long in need of, a sense of community and network of support with other religious professionals traveling on journeys similar to my own. And in seeing and hearing their stories, I found a renewed sense of hope for the future. Everything was going to be okay. This newest chapter of my life was only beginning.

Today I am alive and well. Life is exciting and increasingly filled with wonder and joy. Though divorced in 2013, my children continue to be the love of my life—Seriously, I don’t know what I would do without them! After spending a few transitional years as Service Manager for a downtown Chicago steakhouse, recent years have focused mostly on various entrepreneurial endeavors and experiments in addition to a little writing and some personal coaching. I’m active with a few secular nonprofits and in January 2017 began serving The Clergy Project as its new president.

Life is full and overflowing. It is good, and I am alive! And as I often like to remind those around me, I’m most certainly more joyful without Jesus.



To read all the details of Drew’s story and engage in some great conversation about your own, check out his new book 
The Rise and Fall of Faith: A God-to-Godless Story for Christians and Atheists


Speaking Engagement & Event Requests


Drew Interview 2
 In March of 2015, I returned to the campus of the Moody Bible Institute to participate in a project on understanding atheism. Check out the 55-minute video interview here


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29 comments

  1. Liz Emery · · Reply

    Drew,

    Thanks so much for sharing your account. As an ex-Mormon who experienced many of the same feelings as you when I left the Church, we can commiserate on many levels about the difficulties (and wonderful aspects!) of post-religious life. Consider yourself followed.

    Cheers,

    Elizabeth

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Drew, I was directed to you by a listener. Would you be willing to share your story on our podcast, Everyone’s Agnostic? http://www.everyonesagnostic.com My email is midgley.cass@gmail.com Thanks!
    Cass Midgley

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ann Bekins · · Reply

    Your blog is veryinteresting to me, a former Christian Scientist. Also we may be related. My ancestor’s name was Sword Bekius when he immigrated from the Netherlands and the name changed in America to Bekins.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for leaving the note, Ann! Always good to hear from a former religionist, but one that I may be distantly related to is even better! Outside of my Minnesota family members, I’ve never met another Bekius. Or even heard of one. But Bekins is a more popular version that I’ve seen quite often in the US. Unfortunately, we’ve all been here so long, we have no record of exactly where we come from back in Europe. I’ve speculated the Bekins connection but never quite verified. So thank you! A true pleasure to make your acquaintance:))

      Like

  4. Ann Bekins · · Reply

    The name was Sjoerd Bekius, auto correct messed it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Can you follow me on twitter so I can direct message you? Or can we chat through email?

    I’m atheist but attend church because of my wife. She knows I’m atheist. I have so many questions for you. I admire you shook off the faith virus.

    Josh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Josh, great to hear from you! And absolutely on the Twitter follow.

      Like

      1. @joshyates1980

        Like

  6. Your life might be better now, but it won’t be after you die. Satan got you, bro. I’m sad for you.

    Like

    1. Well Chad, I’m glad you stopped by. But please don’t be sad! This life is so rich and so wonderful. Believe me, I’ve seen and even taught all kinds of delusions about this character called Satan. I too, apparently like yourself, have been scared by the thought of how he might sabotage my life. But I’d encourage you to step out of a life of fear and shadows and sadness that someone might be tortured by “good” or “bad” spirits. Come into the light and live free in the wonder that is around us. It is joy. And it is magnificent:)

      Liked by 3 people

  7. So glad to have happened upon your blog, Drew. I was drawn in by the fact that, I actually attended DC ’94 as well. I was a junior in high school at the time, and having grown up in a family and church similar to you, found it to be life-changing. After getting a degree in Bible/theology from Wheaton College (also the town I grew up in), and being deeply involved in church life/ministry and overseas missions for years, I now find myself on a slow, deliberate deconversion journey as well. Reading stories like yours gives me hope. I know that there is light at the end of this tunnel, but it is a lonely journey. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joy! It’s great to hear from a fellow DC’94er!!! haha.. And a Wheaton grad. Wow. Very cool to hear from you. But you’re right. It can be a lonely path to travel. Have you ever thought about or looked into joining a local secular group? There are a lot of freethinker, humanist, and other atheist groups that meet once a month or so in the Chicago area. This might help alleviate the feeling of isolation and provide a sense of community:)

      Like

  8. I think based upon your dates we were probably at Moody around the same time. This feels oddly comforting since I always feel like I’m probably the only Moody grad who was there when I was who became an atheist and yet I know that can’t be true. Well, ok, it’s definitely not true because I met my husband at Moody and he’s an atheist too, but you get my point. He’s got both the BA and the Masters along with the ministry. We left ministry in 2007, though I probably left my faith behind a year before that.

    Anyway, small world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, small world for sure! Always a pleasure meeting a fellow Moody heretic. Have you seen the Moody Bible Institute Heretics (MBIH) Facebook Group!? If not, you really should join. Great, fun, funny, and even therapeutic conversation on there for all us former-fundies:)

      Like

  9. Thank you for sharing this, Drew. These stories are quite helpful to me and many others. Greetings from an ex-fundi from The Netherlands.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m always glad to hear what we’re doing is helpful. The more we talk about this stuff, the easier it becomes. Oh, and by the way, I’m half-Dutch! Say hello to my relatives for me:)

      Thanks for stopping in to say hello!

      Like

  10. In Him · · Reply

    I am related to you, Andy, and my heart broke when I found your blog. God clearly directed me to it and I immediately prayed with tears streaming down my face that you would turn back to Him. God reminded me of your grandfather whose heart literally broke the day his son died in a horrible farm accident and how years later his spirit was renewed by a little boy named Andy who loved God with all his heart. Where did that Andy go? Your grandpa’s heart is so broken right now and it is my prayer that it will be renewed again before he leaves this earth and spends eternity with Jesus, his Savior and yours.

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    1. Hello “In Him.” Thank you for contacting me, though I do wish, if you truly are a family member of mine, that you wouldn’t feel the need to be anonymous. Just reach out to me like a normal family member usually does and let’s talk. I don’t think I’m nearly as scary as you seem to think I am… :))

      But yes, I understand your broken-heartedness. I’d felt it before too. I guess I’d encourage you to trust the god you believe in to do what’s right and generous.

      My grandfather was the single greatest spiritual influence in my life. And one thing he instilled in me was a willingness to go wherever the biblical evidence should lead. He taught me to never bow down to the opinions or traditions of men. To simply follow the truth at all costs. He taught me to remember that though I could never know for sure the sincerity and humility of others (even pastors and church leaders), all I could ever really know for sure was my own level of sincerity and humility. In that vain, he taught me to humbly seek truth and to be confident as I boldly pursued wherever the truth should lead. This played a major role throughout my quest for truth. And it led me often embrace biblical teaching that I didn’t see demonstrated by the majority of Christians. But ultimately, my quest for truth led me to see that the truth of the Bible is that it is not of any gods, that it is a faulty and ancient document assembled by mere humans. And though I am surrounded by the opinions and traditions of many many devout Christians, I must stand confidently and humbly in where this journey has brought me thus far. But it is a journey nonetheless, and it is ongoing…

      Again, dear alleged family relation, I thank you for your contact. I would encourage you to step out of the shadow of anonymity so we can continue the conversation in a more open light. :))

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Christopher Gamble · · Reply

    Hi Drew. I think that we could have a very interesting discussion! I was a believer for ten years; but then it all fell apart, and (to speak frankly) I am much happier without the Christian fantasy, which is a damaging delusion. I also have a fairly good knowledge of NT Greek, which ultimately showed me the many disastrous mistakes in translation. I would like to spare others the mental anguish that I myself suffered for many years. All the best, Chris.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Drew, I have been reading some of your blogs, and I have so many questions. Regarding the people who have supposedly been Christians, such as yourself, and now are holding onto atheism, were you all faking it? I especially am interested in the man you wrote about who is a well known traveling evangelist, who plans to announce his true beliefs this year, in the meantime, is he evangelizing now? I don’t understand. It reminds me of the Ellen Degeneres drama, and most of us knew what her secret was. I cannot grasp the concept that people are talking about Jesus and bringing others to Christianity when they themselves do not believe it. What is going on in their heads? Help me please.

    Like

    1. Unfortunately, Froggie, your concerns are common.

      You say you don’t understand and ask if we were all “faking it.” But we’ve all already said we weren’t. So let me ask you a question. What would be the motivation? And what is your motivation in assuming our previous faith wasn’t genuine? Would a fake believer invest several years in multiple academic degrees that would surely prove worthless apart from that belief system? And since religious leaders are usually impoverished or close to it (though there are exceptions), why would a fake believer jeopardize the livelihood of her or his family all for what he or she already knew to be lies?

      This accusation just doesn’t make any sense – unless of course you’re committed a priori to the theological tenet that a True Believer is unable to walk away from the faith – and that thus anyone who does walk away had clearly never actually been a True Believer. And if that’s the case, then why even ask these questions when you’re convinced you already know the answer…

      Maybe I’ve misplaced the intentions of your inquiry. That may certainly be a possibility. And if so, please by all means continue the dialogue. I love conversation. In such a case I’d invite you to keep reading more and more stories of those who have come to the light after living years in service to the dark ages. And feel free to bring all the questions you may have…

      If on the other hand you’ve entered into this conversation under false pretenses, then there is simply no need to continue it. There’s only one person “faking it” here…

      Again I hope my assessment is misplaced,
      drew

      Liked by 1 person

  13. froggie219 · · Reply

    I am really surprised by your reply-HONEST! What do you mean by false pretenses? I do not have the answers to my questions. I would not take the time to be here. Yes, I wonder why a true believer would walk away. What is an atheist’s definition of a ‘true believer’. Drew, your reply gave me the chills, On you blogs, you are so outgoing, friendly, non-judgmental, but not so in my reply. But then, maybe I also am reading you wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I am glad to hear this, Froggie:)

      As I mentioned in my first response, I was sincerely hoping that I was misreading your original comment. And it looks like I indeed had. As I said it looked to me like you were just trying to bait me but acknowledged the possibility that I could be wrong and invited you to clarify if that was the case. And now I thank you for clarifying…. :))

      But yes, going back to your original question, I see no reason to second guess the claims of myself and others. I know I really did believe it. Just as I state on this page above and in many other places. Though I cannot personally see inside the hearts of others in similar situations, they have made similar professions as myself and I see no reason to assume they were lying… Hmmm…

      So again, I apologize Froggie. Maybe I’m totally missing the intent of your question… It sounds like you’ve already read the bio on this page and other posts I’ve made. Did you have a specific question you’d like to ask? I’m not sure I understand what you’d like to know :)

      drew

      Like

  14. froggie219 · · Reply

    Well for one thing, as I asked in my last post, I would be very interested in knowing what is an atheist’s definition of a ‘true believer’. That you added the word ‘true’ struck me. Is it more than just a person believing that God exists? I don’t remember ever discussing this with an atheist, whether lifelong or a convert, so I’m just trying to be educated. And especially with your background in Christian ministry, you would have a different/better (in my opinion) in – well, in this whole conversation. Thank you for your time :)

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    1. Okay. So as far as an ATHEIST’s definition of a “true believer,” well, I can’t speak for all atheists since the only one thing we all automatically have in common is our DISBELIEF in gods. Beyond that it’s possible for us to all see and understand things quite differently. But most of the atheists I know allow each religionist to define their own theological terminology their own way – and it varies A LOT depending on what group you’re talking to. Now, typically the terms “true believer” or “true Christian” or “true Muslim” or “true Buddhist” are only going to be used by those of more fundamentalist traditions, to distinguish between what they perceive to be real and false segments of their particular religion. Such individuals would claim that other variations of their religion have grown distorted from the only “correct” version (i.e. their own). Of course they each individually claim that theirs is correct and all the others are false. They all point fingers at one another as they argue over which is legitimate and each in turn condemn one another as impure.

      Now fundamentalist Christians often accuse those like myself of never having ACTUALLY been “true believers” or “true Christians” even though we all claimed to have truly believed Christian doctrines and to have deeply entrusted our lives to God’s supremacy. But according to one popular Calvinist tenet (as I mentioned above) it is impossible to “stray from the faith” if your faith is genuine. And since we left Christianity, it is judged that we could never have truly believed to begin with. And therefore we are accused of having faked the whole thing, and everything we’ve ever done is immediately called into question. For such individuals, there is no room for discussion because they are not willing to be reasonable. They see such teachings reflected in their bibles and are not open to considering alternatives.

      So that’s how the “true believer” statement came into the discussion above. I was not saying that I PERSONALLY think there is one kind of true Christian as opposed to all the other false Christians. I mistakenly thought you were implying that of me when you asked, “Regarding the people who have supposedly been Christians, such as yourself, and now are holding onto atheism, were you all faking it?”

      If I may, I’d like to offer a little suggestion. When you ask about “the people who have SUPPOSEDLY been Christians” it makes it sound like you are not convinced that we actually were what we said we were, as if we didn’t believe or practice our faith hard enough. I’m sorry, but of course we were. How can someone rise up to become a leader in Christianity without actually being one? Unless of course, your understanding of Christianity is that some forms are true and some are false. And when you ask if we were actually “faking it,” it makes it sound like you’re assuming the worst in us.

      So my suggestion to you, my new friend, would be this, it’s best to assume the best in people until they give you reason to conclude otherwise. If we all said that there was a point of true belief and that we were so committed to that belief that we committed the rest of our lives to its service – only later to discover that we no longer believed and then had to pivot and have to navigate some very difficult waters in attempting to figure out what we should do next – if someone tells you that these things, why not believe they are telling you the truth?

      Just something for you to consider. But no hard feelings. You tell me you didn’t mean it that way, and so I believe you. But I just wanted to let you know why what you said made it sound like you were making accusations associated with Christian fundamentalism. You seemed offended that I would assume that of you, and so I apologize while also letting you know why it sounded that way. But all good, brother. And thanks for asking for more info :)

      If you would like to learn more about others who have de-converted from their various religions (Christian and other) and about the various backgrounds and experiences they’ve had, I’d encourage you to check out http://ClergyProject.org/Stories.

      Anyway… I hope this long response answers your question about an “atheist’s definition of a ‘true believer.”

      I look forward to hearing from you further,

      drew

      Like

    2. Let me also respond real quick to your question about the TCP member who is planning to come out publicly as an atheist over the course of this year… Now I can’t speak directly to this particular gentlemen, but let me talk a little about our situations in general.

      Non-believing religious professionals are often criticized for staying in their positions too long before exiting the ministry. And it sounds like a simple situation: You didn’t believe anymore, so why did you keep preaching or ministering?”

      But if you look at what’s actually going on, you’ll see it’s not so simple. Pastors and ministers regularly battle with what we could call “everyday doubts.” Some churches preach that doubts are even a healthy part of the life of faith as they force you to discover better answers. So having doubts are more or less a normal thing for all Christians, even pastors. And pretty much any Christian pastor will acknowledge this.

      So now take a moment to realize that for most of us, when the doubts start, they start off as what we believe to be normal “everyday doubts.” It is often suggested by our critics that the only honest thing to do would have been to resign the day we experienced our first doubt. But that’s a preposterous suggestion.

      For many of us, the doubts simply increase over time. And for a lot of us, we don’t want the doubts to continue. For many of us, we loved our faith and desperately clung to it. We prayed and cried out to God for increased faith. But the more we worked to hold onto it, the more inevitable our de-conversion became. And then over time – over the course of several years – eventually for the sake of your own sanity, you have to let go. And you finally come the point of accepting that you don’t believe any of it is real.

      And then you have a decision to make.

      It’s at this point where we often hear that we should just walk out and quit immediately. But there are other issues at stake. For starters, you have a responsibility to continue providing for your family. And if all your education and job experience is invested in this career track, if you just up and quit, it will have catastrophic impactions on your family. And since you’ve already realized there is no god, appeasing a religious version of integrity is replaced by making sure your family is taken care of.

      So what I encourage ministers to do in such situations is to take a step back and compose a well thought-out plan. I encourage them to being putting pieces in place to construct a safe exit strategy. Secure another career or income stream, other housing if you’re currently living in a parsonage, insurance, etc. Take your time, don’t panic, and get all the details together. In my opinion, making sure you have a solid transition for your family’s wellbeing takes huge precedence over all other concerns. And honestly, sometimes putting such a plan together can take years…

      So what about the mean time? They’re up there preaching and telling lies? Some of them. Sometimes. Again, all of these issues take second place at best in comparison to the wellbeing of the family. But keep in mind that these pastors are often so scared of being outed and fired before the plan is together that they keep spinning the same sermons that they genuinely told before, sometimes even more fundamentalist to keep up the appearance. So it’s not like they are watering down the gospel. It’s the same message they heard before. Nothing intended to destroy the church. Just a pastor trying to hold his job together until he can make a safe exit.

      Sometimes atheists also bring critique. How can someone who knows the truth of atheism willingly continue spreading Christianity’s dangerous lies? This can also be of concern. And again here, I would put his care for family even above this justified grievance. But here too it helps to think of it this way: If he left that church, the church would just find another pastor to keep preaching the same message in his place. But either way, they’re gonna hear it. Him leaving isn’t gonna stop the message from getting out. And in the meanwhile, he’s got a family to take care of and another chapter of his life to prepare for.

      Not all pastors fit this same profile. And some TCP members aren’t even Christian pastors, some are Muslim imams (just imagine how much more exponentially complex the exit plan needs to be there) and Hindu monks and Catholic nuns, etc. Everyone’s situation is a little different. And everyone processes the details of their own life differently. But that’s where now as a Life & Career Coach, I always remind everyone that you are the only greatest expert on your own life. We can’t judge. You know all the details far better than we do…

      We simply want to see everyone navigating their new lives in the best way possible according to how they now see things.

      A long and complex answer, I know. Most people have a very hard time understanding the delicacy of such a transition until they really look close. And then if the mind is open, it suddenly beings to make sense.

      Thanks Froggie. Hope this was helpful!

      drew

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    3. Though you might have more questions, I’m not going to have more time to get to them today. But please feel free to send me more. You can either post them here on the website or you can message me directly via e-mail at DrewBekius@gmail.com. Sometimes it takes me a few days to get around to answering but I will do my best as I am able.

      :)

      drew

      Like

  15. Thanks John. I’ll try to check it out!

    Like

  16. DREW , tHANKS FOR SHARING YOUR JOURNEY i WAS RAISED STRICT PRESBYTERIAN BUT BECAME AN ATHEIST AND PROFESSOR. i JUST FINISHED AN ATHEIST APPROACH TO THE HISTORY OF SEX. . THREE VOLUMES ON HOW CHURCHES THROUGH HISTORY HAVE CONTROLLED SEX. yOU MIGHT LIKE IT…LET ME KNOW…

    Like

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