I’ve been working so hard on the site that I forgot to introduce myself! Let me do that now.

I’m Crystal Lutton and I’ve been a believer all my life. At three years old, at the VBS my mom was teaching where we lived in Japan, I heard the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and wanted to know how Jesus could come to my house for dinner. In fact, as far back as I can remember, I’ve known God is real and personal and love. I’ve spent my life wanting to know more about God and understand the Bible.

I took in everything I was taught and studied. I really wanted to understand and I kept having questions. Lots and lots of questions — most of them no one could answer. This led to me being treated like a trouble maker, a doubter, being accused of undermining leaders, and even being called a Jezebel. It was shortly before I turned 20 that I was done trying to justify the garbage I was being taught — nothing I was told about living the Christian life made sense as I actually tried to live my life.

I walked away from Christianity. Anyone looking from the outside would have thought I rejected God, but I didn’t. There were even people close to me who told me my life would be a lot easier if I just admitted God wasn’t real. But I couldn’t, because no matter how much I had been taught wrong, I never doubted God was real.

Eventually God made it clear that I was at a crossroads and the choice I made was going to determine the path of the rest of my life. I couldn’t walk away from God. I finally agreed to return to church but I didn’t want anything to do with other Christians — I told God his people ruin everything!

Needless to say, I eventually made friends — friends I still have today (over 20 years later) — and I met my husband and started our family. We’ve been married 21 years this July and have five children. I was involved in lots of ministries and then attended Fuller Theological Seminary.  Since then I’ve published two books on Grace-Based Discipline, run Arms of Love Family Fellowship, a non-profit ministry based in Arizona, launched aolff.org and crystallutton.com. I led a home church, worked for seven years as the Associate Pastor and Rabbi at Beth Simchat Hamaschiach Messianic Congregation, was ordained through the Church of the Nazarene, and launched Shema Congregation. After seven years as Senior Pastor and Rabbi there, I voluntarily surrendered my credentials and walked away from Institutional Christianity again.

I still haven’t walked away from God though! I lead Chloe’s House, a group from Shema that continues to meet every week and digs into deep Bible study, exploring what it means to be a fellowship of believers.  And I’ve started Thomas Talks. It’s a place for anyone and everyone who has questions about God, the Bible, and what it’s supposed to look like to be a follower of Jesus. It’s a place for anyone and everyone who has been wronged by the formal Church experience or people who claim to represent God but instead go around hurting and judging. Please give us a chance to show you that isn’t what God wants for you or from us.

I’ve heard some people say they had to leave Christianity to find God. I get it. Institutions are man-made monuments to our thoughts and ideas, our understanding of things. The early church was a Jewish sect of people who were spreading the good news that because of Jesus everyone was saved — understanding and believing that could change your life! I like the simplicity of that and have tried to get back to that in my own journey. Wherever you are in your journey of life, I’m glad you stopped by and hope you will be blessed by what you find here.

  • Christina Dronen

    Very cool! I hope this becomes a safe place for people to have discussions and get answers. I feel like “cultural Christianity” has drifted further and further from the true gospel. Where’s the mercy?

    Also – I had no idea you lived in Japan! My kids are learning Japanese at school. I hope to take them someday. Did you learn Japanese while there?

    • Crystal Lutton

      I hope this is a safe place for that too! How cool your kids are learning Japanese at school. I lived there from 3-6 years old and one of my children would love to work there when he gets his degree. I was fluent in Japanese. I can only remember a few things but when my children are watching anime if I’m in the room I start to understand what’s going on even if I’m working on my own thing and what’s interesting is that memories start to come back from that time when I’m listening to Japanese being spoken. My memories from that time are in Japanese!