Interview with A.J. Swoboda, Author of “Messy: God Likes it That Way” – Part 1
I recently finished reading my friend A.J. Swoboda’s book, Messy: God Likes it That Way. I found it witty, real and helpful. So I thought I would interview him about the book. I first asked him to tell us about himself and why he wrote the book.
JR: Tell us a little about yourself.
A.J.: My name is A.J. Swoboda. I’m married to Quinn and the human child that came out of her is our son Elliot. I have a Ph.D in theology from the University of Bermingham in England and am a professor of theology, biblical studies, and Christian history at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon. As well, I teach at LIFE Pacific College and New Hope College. My wife, Quinn, and myself, started and serve the Theophilus urban church community in the Hawthorne District of Portland, Oregon. Previous to this, I served as a campus pastor at the University of Oregon. My doctoral research explored the never-ending relationship between the Holy Spirit and ecology in particular in the Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. I’m also a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Along with Messy, my dissertation will be published next year, Tongues and Trees: Towards a Pentecostal Ecological Theology. I’m a blogger, and you can follow me on Twitter @mrajswoboda.
JR: What was your motivation for writing “Messy”?
A.J.: One stands out above the rest. A few years ago, I was finding that conversations with other Christians would consistently turn to the same thing. When I was alone with people over coffee or a meal, they’d confess, almost sheepishly, that their faith and understanding of God was much more messy than they wanted to advertise. Ultimately, I felt the same way. I recently heard someone say that if we preach to perfect people, you’ll gather a pretty small audience. I wrote this book for the largest demographic of the world utterly messed-up people who are compelled by Jesus.