Real, Owning Your Christian Faith (July, 2012).

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Many second-generation believers struggle to develop authentic faith. Is it the parenting, the church, the systems?

Or could it be that a background in the church provides its own unique set of struggles? Written from a confessed churchaholic—now an author, pastor, and father—REAL pulls open the curtains and offers an introspective look at what the Bible says to those who’ve grown up in the faith, answering the questions we’ve long been afraid to voice. Why do I desire to sin? What’s the secret to lasting intimacy with God? REAL offers second-generation Christians a lifeline to personal intimacy with God, a biblical mandate to take ownership of their faith, and grace-based tips on continuing a legacy of faith.

Features conversations with young evangelical leaders such as Jon Acuff, Trevin Wax, Andrea Lucado, Jonathan Merritt, and Drew Dyck. 

Read the first chapter free here

Check out this hour-long interview with Chris Fabry on Moody Radio

Book Trailer: 



“Daniel Darling knows that faith cannot be inherited; it must be owned. In REAL, he shows us exactly how to develop an organic and authentic faith. This compact but powerful book will revitalize the spiritually bored and burned out by helping them glimpse Jesus in fresh ways.”

Jonathan Merritt, author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars

“Second generation faith can be a little like next day pizza—cold, stale, and tough to swallow. Darling’s book is for those weary of subsisting on spiritual leftovers. He understands the sometimes stultifying effect of the evangelical subculture on spirituality and sees what it takes to thrive as a second generation Christian. The writing here is lively and the reflections—interspersed with interviews with top ministry thinkers—are fresh. The perfect read to send fresh wind through your spiritual life.”

Drew Dyck is the managing editor of Leadership Journal and author of Generation Ex-Christian: Why young adults are leaving the faith…and how to bring them back (Moody).

“Darling’s relaxed but earnest tone is an offshoot of transparent authenticity. He writes out of who he really is—the pastor of a small church, and the father of small children. He does not compromise on the essentials of the faith. The gospel is presented clearly more than once. In both strategic and straightforward ways, Darling goes to admirable lengths to awaken embryonic faith in the hearts of his target audience.” Read the rest of the review here

Mark Tubbs for The Gospel Coalition 

“Dan Darling’s spot-on perceptions, honesty, and gentle kindness permeate this insightful book for understanding and helping today’s generation. I found various emotions welling up inside as I read the stories, the interviews, and the insights shared in REAL: Owning Your Christian Faith. His engaging and informative style of writing quickly drew me into each chapter with anticipation of what was coming next. This book is contemporary, raw, humorous, eye-opening, and valuable for today’s church to read. I appreciate Darling’s lists of legalistic rules, questionable doctrines, required behaviors, stifling traditions, and unrealistic expectations found in too many churches that have served to repel people rather than drawing them to Christ through a gospel-centered life. I like Darling’s plea for churches to “remove the impurities” from the gospel we serve people so that they can know the truth, the heart, and soul of the gospel and accept it for what God intended it to be and not what we have shaped it to look like. This book is well done and helpful to parents raising kids in this generation as well as for pastors to preach and any church leader who hopes to slow or stop the mass exodus of young people leaving our churches today.”

Rev. Dr. Tom Blackaby, author; speaker; international director, Blackaby Ministries International

REAL: Owning Your Christian Faith may just be the book God uses to prod second-generation believers from a stale ‘inherited faith’ to a more vibrant, authentic faith. For those of us parenting or mentoring second-generation kids, you won’t find simplistic solutions here, thank goodness, but there will be plenty aha! moments to illuminate the way forward. Dan Darling has done the church a vital service.”

Leslie Leyland Fields, author; speaker; editor; columnist and writer, Christianity Today; Stones to Bread Ministries

“Learn how others, even as my own children, had to take ownership of their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is a much-needed message for all Christian families. Read and pass on.”

 Johnny Hunt, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia, former President, Southern Baptist Convention

“Rarely does a book come along that combines faithfulness to the Bible, the Gospel, and practical suggestions that is as raw and creative as Real Owning Your Christian Faith is. RealOwning Your Christian Faith written by my friend Dan Darling, a Pastor and seasoned Christian will not only help second generation Christians but every Christian to understand what it means to not play religious games, but to be an authentic and honest disciple of Jesus Christ. Reading Real: Owning Your Christian Faith will be a wakeup call not only to those who are apathetic but will also help those who minister to second generation Christians.” Read entire review here.

 Dave Jenkins, Director Servants of Grace Ministries
“Whether you’re a first, second, or tenth generation Christian, there’s much to be encouraged by inReal. Dan Darling’s done us a great service in writing the book. I trust that as you read it, it will challenge a few assumptions you may have, correct some of your approaches and lead you to repent of the sins you’ve committed as a parent and a child of believers.” Read entire review here.
Aaron Armstrong, author of Awaiting a Savior and Contend and blogger at Blogging Theologically

Author’s Note:

This book has been a long-time coming, a book that has been on my heart as long as I’ve been a writer, but only recently has God allowed the words and the thoughts to mature into what I trust will be a helpful book for people who’ve grown up in the church.

A lot of books like this do two things I don’t like: 1) They share a messy memoir of what they hate about church or 2) They advocate sweeping wholesale change in the church as if the way we do church today is completely wrong.

I believe Real is different in that I speak not only to the disaffected prodigal, but to the self-righteous elder brother. I believe there is a unique set of struggles experienced by those who grow up in church environments–struggles that can be answered by the gospel itself.

And so you won’t find an angry screed against church. I love the church and happily pastor one myself. And you won’t find yet another tiresome new church paradigm that calls us to replace preaching with a bunch of unshaven guys hanging at Starbucks on Sunday.

What you will find is some penetrating, real conversations about expectations, self-righteousness, masks, and how to foster an authentic environment in which faith can grow in the next generation.