Reshaping the Church

Trueface: Finding freedom in authenticity

Posted September 01, 2023

by Katherine Raymond

Photo by Tima Miroshichenko for Pexels

The phrase “relationship over religion” has arisen recently among some Christians. It is used as a response to the transactional view of salvation that has taken hold of many in the Church. In a business-oriented world, Christians can oftentimes begin to view religion as a sort of business transaction, saying, “If I work hard to please God then, and only then, will He love me.”

Brennan Keller, director of partnerships at Trueface, explained in an interview how this transactional view of salvation places a disproportionate emphasis on doing good works over creating and fostering authentic relationships. He discusses the ways Trueface, as a ministry, works to heal Christians from this harmful thinking and build authentic connections within the Church.

Mask-wearing Christians


Non-Christians often perceive the Church as being composed of many phony or inauthentic people, according to Jesus in America, a study conducted by Ipsos for The Episcopal Church in America. The study suggests that non-Christians largely attribute negative characteristics to Christians.

When asked what characteristics they associate with Christians in general, non-Christians responded largely with characteristics such as hypocrisy, self-righteousness and arrogance. These responses stand in stark contrast to Christians’ responses to this same question, attributing characteristics such as compassion, respectfulness and friendliness to their fellow Christians.

This difference between how non-Christians and Christians perceive members of the Church indicates a serious problem that requires addressing.

“God created His people to be the most real and authentic group that the world knows and can learn from,” Keller said. “However, today many people would say that the Church is among the most inauthentic, judgemental or counterfeit groups.” This is not what God intended for the Church, and in many cases, this inauthenticity is a product of this transactional view of salvation.

“We value doing and producing over being and becoming,” Keller said.

While faith without works is indeed dead, like James 2:26 says, placing such emphasis on performance inevitably leads to “mask-wearing,” as those at Trueface refer to it, and almost entirely closes us off from forming connections with fellow Christians. A lack of vulnerability leads to a lack of intimacy — with other Christians and the Lord.

Fundamentally, the harm in this transactional view of Christianity is it claims God loves us only if we are acting in ways that are pleasing to Him.

“The reason why the mask is worn is because I don't think people want to see the real me,” Keller explains. “I have shame of who I am, so I hide, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden. Shame always leads to hiding.”

If we do not believe God, being perfectly loving and just, will love us as we are, why would we think our fellow Christians, being as broken and fallen as we are, would love us as we are? 

This type of thinking keeps us not only from experiencing the fullness of God’s love but also from experiencing the fullness of our relationships with others and the body of Christ as God meant for it to be experienced. By looking to the example the early Church sets in the Scriptures, we can get a glimpse of the hope the Church has for restoration in this area.

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Looking to the Early Church

When asked what need Trueface is meeting within the Church, Keller turned to the early Church as it is presented in the book of Acts.

“If we look at the book of Acts, we see Church as really a web of relationships,” Keller said. “It’s a group of people very different from each other — ethnically, racially, personality-wise — coming together to follow Jesus and, through others, to experience His transforming love.”

These people were united, if by nothing else, then by their experiences of Jesus’ love, their desire to follow Jesus Christ and their desire to be in a community with like-minded people.

The early Church was far from perfect, as we can see in the epistles Paul wrote to the individual churches. However, what the early Church had that the modern Church lacks is the profound experience of God’s transforming love and trust, which they experienced through their authentic relationships with fellow Christians.

“In the book of Acts, Jesus calls us to be one with each other and one with Him and to love our neighbor generously,” Keller continues. “And I think if we go back to that, it becomes less about obligation and more about privilege and enjoyment. We’re called to enjoy God and to enjoy His people.”

While this calling is easy enough to say, it is more difficult to live out. Amidst this difficulty is where the Church steps in.

“Many churches do an excellent job teaching, but we want more than information,” Keller said. 

Members of the Church should be doing more than just learning information, but taking it a step further. Christianity is more than just knowledge, it requires that Christians take what they have learned in theory and learn to live it out in practice.

“We’re looking for people to show us. Show me how to love; show me how to follow Jesus; show me how to live in relationships with God and others teaching me,” Keller said.

The Modern Church

Keller believes this disconnect in Christian communities may be the source of the spiritual decline that has been sweeping the nation.

“The reason why people are dying spiritually is because they’re not connected in community,” Keller explains, “and they're not able to feel fully known because they’ve never experienced the joy of being fully known in the context of relationship with others.”

In order for Christians to experience the fullness of trusting God and our relationships with others, we have to first believe we are worthy of love — God’s and other Christians’ — simply because we are image-bearers of the Lord.

“It's important to realize that I’m no longer a screwed-up sinner, but I’m a saint who occasionally sins,” Keller says.

Once our perspective shifts and we begin to find our worth in God, rather than in the sum of our good and bad deeds, we will have the security to be vulnerable, to form intimate connections, and to experience the fullness of our relationships as God intended for them to be experienced.

Photo by Luis Quintero for Pexels

Trueface’s Mission

This belief is the basis of the mission of Trueface: to equip people to experience authentic relationships with God and others. “Shame always leads to hiding,” Keller said. “We want the Church to learn how to take the mask off and to not allow shame to have power over the love of God.”

For the last 28 years, Trueface has worked to give people the confidence to take off their masks and form authentic connections with other Christians, in order to experience being fully known by God and others. The ministry provides services such as a weekly blog and podcast, an online store to purchase books and other resources, small group studies and a nine-month discipleship initiative.

For further reading that reflects the heart and the mission of Trueface and its ministry, Brennan Keller suggests Romans 6:6-18 for a quick read or Romans 8 and Galatians 3 for a deeper study.

How God has been moving

There are numerous testimonies of people who have gone through a Trueface program and seen how God has worked through their experience. Keller shared two testimonies that highlight the way people have been delivered from this transactional misunderstanding of salvation.

One of these testimonies states: “God opened my eyes to the depths of His love for me. He catapulted me into a new stratosphere of relationship with Him that is not based on performance or quid pro quo. He moved me from “have to” to “thank you.” I know myself better through this group, and I built relationships that will support me through the life that lies ahead.”

A second testimony states: “I have shed a lot of my religiosity and found God at the center. I no longer have to strive for God’s love and prove I am worthy.”

These testimonies highlight the ways God has restored and continues to restore our understanding of Him and the salvation He gives us and realize the truth — we do not have to earn God’s love in any capacity. By realizing that God’s love is unconditional, people are no longer bound by performance and duty but are able to live freely in God’s grace.

Trueface is dedicated to walking beside people through this journey, and these are just a few of many stories of the deliverance people have experienced through one of their programs. 

“At the end of the day, if you want to grow in authentic relationships with God and with others, we would love to serve you through the many different services we provide,” Keller said. “When it comes to trust and authenticity and relationships and having a more effective and giving small group or community in your life, we are here to serve.”

Photo by Brennan Keller for Trueface

Getting Involved

For those looking to learn more about Trueface and its mission or to get involved, they can be found on Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. For those looking to learn more specifically about their 9-month discipleship program, more information can be found at truefacejourney.com. People can also connect through the website at trueface.org and through their new mobile app “Trueface Life” on the App Store or Google Play Store. Through the app, you will be prompted to create a short profile and can begin connecting with others in the Trueface community. For more information, feel free to contact a representative at Trueface by emailing [email protected].