We are thrilled to publish this interview with Inspire member Lauren Hunter, author of Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ.
Could you give us a brief overview of Leaving Christian Science?
Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ is the result of praying and asking God how he wanted to use my writing to reach the community of Christian Scientists I was raised in. I left the religion in 2001—nearly 20 years ago. Initially, I shared my testimony with my Christian Science family and friends to explain why I’d left—I had found salvation in Jesus Christ and embraced biblical Christianity. I had hoped that my initial sharing and witnessing would be impactful, but it only startled people I cared about and put them on the defensive. I decided to pursue my new faith, but not to be overly zealous about reaching them.
Fast forward 17 years. I knew there was a chance God might call me up to speak to this lost people group. I had become an active participant in the Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists (FFCS) ministry and even invited other struggling Christian Scientists into the online conversation. During 2018, I prayed and asked God to help me know what project to focus on for my first book. He answered me very clearly with directions to interview people just like me who had left Christian Science and found Jesus. This project would be unique because it would share salvation stories from all walks of life and each would center on a different theological theme relevant to Christian Science.
How did you go about getting the personal stories from the other contributors to the book?
I partnered with FFCS and was active in our private Facebook online group to find people. The director of this ministry helped me by putting a list by theme together, then I emailed asking each person questions. If there seemed to be a good fit, I sent them interview questions and booked a Zoom call. I interviewed them over video and recorded the sessions, then used Rev.com to create written transcripts. These transcripts needed immediate editing for clarity, then substantial editing to pull the themes and coherent storylines out of each person’s story. My Inspire critique group reviewed each chapter as I finished them and provided incredible feedback. The Lord even orchestrated for a retired pastor to be in my critique group and he was able to check my work for theological soundness and also contribute several short pastoral devotions to my book.
What inspired you to compile the book? Was there one thing that pushed it from an idea to actually making it happen?
I’m a pretty determined person. Combine that with marching orders from God—I really did feel like I heard from him directly—and I don’t think anything could have stopped me from completing this project. It was extremely close to my heart and a part of my own spiritual journey to “come out” to all my friends, family, and peers with a book as personal as this. It took more courage and prayer than anything I’ve experienced so far in my life. Also, because of the nature of rebuking a false gospel, I endured quite a lot of spiritual opposition and had many prayer warriors praying all along the way.
You have some excellent endorsements for the book. Do you have any advice for other authors on getting endorsements?
I spent the first half of my career in public relations. I learned to research my contacts, reach out, then be tenacious in following up. These skills served me well in getting endorsement quotes. I highly recommend authors focus significant time on this area to find the best comparative books in their genre and lovingly request reviews. In the process, I’ve built some relationships with these authors that will hopefully outlast this project. In most cases, I read the authors’ books and genuinely wanted their input, whether they could offer me a blurb or not.
What are your hopes for Leaving Christian Science?
My first and foremost aim is that current Christian Scientists—that includes my mom, my sister, and many other relatives and friends—would recognize the heresy of this false faith and turn to Jesus to repent of their sins and accept the Lord. In addition to this ministry goal, I also hope to raise awareness of this cult and other cults in order for people not to be led astray.
Lastly, there are lots of people who don’t practice Christian Science any longer, but they still have mental “programming” and a false worldview that isn’t consistent with any other dogma. I hope to help these people recognize that Christian Science teachings, including the founder who is revered as a prophet, are harmful and detrimental to one’s health (Christian Scientists are known for their avoidance of any kind of medical intervention). I hope and pray that my book will impact them and help them in their journey of healing from religious trauma.
What were the most important things you learned during the entire process of publishing LCS that could be of benefit to other writers?
Initially, I submitted the book proposal for this book to a handful of agents. After meeting with several of these agents at the WCCW conferences in 2018 and 2019, it was clear that a traditional publisher would be uninterested because of the small people group. I did go through all the steps, since this was my first book proposal for a full-length non-fiction book. I wanted to be prepared and treat this project like I was getting a degree in understanding the publishing industry and process. All along the way, I hoped to learn as much as possible. I also submitted and had my proposal approved with two hybrid publishers that are well-known in the industry, but opted to go through self-publishing on my own instead of paying $5,000-10,000 to have a hybrid publisher take me on. Instead, I launched my own publishing brand, Veritable Books, and hope to publish using this name in the future, as God leads.
If you had to pinpoint one thing that resulted in you leaving Christian Science, what would it be?
In chapter two of Leaving Christian Science, I share my full story of coming to faith. I was committed to Christian Science, but never had the opportunity to be around other evangelical Christians. God orchestrated for me to take a position at a company called Christianity.com (now owned by Salem Media). It was here that I encountered a former Christian Scientist over the phone and was witnessed to. I also worked with committed Christians who must have known I wasn’t saved. I began asking questions.
Once I began doing the research by reading Kingdom of the Cults among other books, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit that Christian Science was false. It was like a spell had been broken. I can only attest to the power of Jesus Christ in unlocking me from a false religion and pointing me to him. In looking back, there were multiple signs over a handful of years.
In the end, I left Christian Science rather suddenly, to the relief of my husband who was a believer, and the dismay of my family who were practicing Christian Scientists. The next year, we were both baptized. I was pregnant with our first child and we were able to raise our four children to know the Lord.
Have you received any feedback from the “former Christian Scientist” community?
I was able to assemble a strong book launch team of about 30 people, most of whom were former Christian Scientists. I also included several family members on this book launch team as a way to reach out to them. There are four different former Christian Science private Facebook pages and I’m active in each of these through posts and interactions. Also, the FFCS ministry is promoting this book and recommending everyone purchase and read it.
Later this fall, I’ll be starting a monthly book club to go through the chapters and have online discussions. I’m hearing very positive feedback. There are some people who won’t touch religion with a ten-foot pole after leaving Christian Science, but the majority of people are at least curious about Christianity—mostly because they think that they are already Christians when practicing Christian Science! I’m thankful to have a voice in this small, strange part of the United States religious landscape.
Thank you for taking the time to share your testimony and experiences with us, Lauren. We will be praying for all those you’re wanting to reach through this book.
You can read more details about Leaving Christian Science in the Inspire bookstore.