Some people have been asking if I will be staying at the church as just a participant or member? Others have asked if there will be an opportunity for me to say goodbye, answer questions, receive prayers or forgiveness from the church?
These are probably better questions for the Board than for me right now. I don’t want to publicly second-guess or criticize decisions that are being made.
So without too much commentary on my part, here is the deal as I understand it:
– I was hopeful that I could at some point be part of the church community simply as a worshiper. That is not going to happen. I have been asked to completely leave the church community. As I have tried to do all along, I will respect that request.
– As far as I know there will be no opportunity for a goodbye or a chance to answer people’s questions or be prayed for in person or receive forgiveness in any liturgical/formal way.
Some folks who know what is happening have asked me what I think. Again, I have no interest in second-guessing the Board, who I consider friends and deeply respect.
I think there are two observations worth making:
(1) GRACE MUST BE EXTENDED, NEVER EXPECTED OR DEMANDED.
I can’t expect grace, demand grace, or get angry when it is not extended. The very nature of grace is that it is something one does not deserve and can only be freely offered by the offended party. So I have no expectation or demand for grace and no bitterness about it. Forgiveness is something that is commanded by Jesus; grace is something modeled by Jesus. There is a difference… and that is where we are right now.
(2) THE BOARD IS FOLLOWING THE ADVICE THEY ARE GETTING.
To their credit, the Board is talking to a folks who have some experience in this area — and they are listening to the advice they are getting. Is it good advice? That is for someone else to judge…
What does this mean for me moving forward?
Well, as Rick Warren says, the church is really a family and a Christian without a church is an orphan. So I am feeling like an orphan these days having been removed from the family. I hope to find a church family that will take me, adopt me, and let me in… I am sure that will take some time, but I still believe that the local church is the hope of the world and that every believer needs to be part of the local church. So someday that will hopefully be true for me again.
I don’t really know.
The hard part is that I have pretty much committed two of the unforgivable sins in the evangelical world. First, being gay. And second, failing as a pastor/leader.
I am sure there are many churches that would take me in. The problem is that I am only interested in Gospel-believing, Bible-teaching, Jesus-following, Great Commission type churches. But those are generally the churches that will not take a fallen leader who is also gay.
I know some that will. But they would see me more as project/problem to fix, then a person to just love and be in community with. I am not interested in being someone’s project. I just want to be part of a faithful community of Jesus-followers where I can learn, worship, grow, share, love, and experience healing and grace.
In time, I trust.