This is a particularly good article dealing with the interpretive challenges of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10…
Monthly Archives: August 2015
Here is Part 2 of my conversation with Pastor Joshua Gagnon on his Leadership Podcast (click here for Part 1).
I think it is a great and meaty conversation about LGBT issues and the church — and especially as it relates to churches that hold more traditional views on LGBT issues and how they can become welcoming and safe places for LGBT seekers, believers, etc. And also for LGBT Christians who are attending non-affirming churches.
Taken from the “Episode Notes” on Josh’s website, here are some challenges for churches and some quotations from the show.
4 Things We As Church Leaders Should Be Doing:
- Create a place where homosexuals can feel safe and respected. NLC provided this for Ben. He admits that he did not agree on everything, but what he did agree on was NLC’s commitment to making Jesus a priority and making Him known to everyone.
- Be bold about what we believe. Ben stated that he doesn’t want church leaders to be fake; they should be upfront and lay everything out on the table so that no one is left guessing what their church believes. Ben also expressed that hearing where a church stands on [homosexuality]—in love—is more helpful and honorable to him than pretending that they don’t have a stance at all.
- Surrender our agendas. Create a space for people, no matter what their background or issues. Ben believes that, for the most part, the church is pretty good at this in every other area but with gay people. We should take what we learned about dealing with people who face addictions and other struggles and apply it to this issue.
- Engage in these kinds of conversations. We need to be able to sit down and talk honestly as brothers and sisters in Christ, for the sake of those who don’t know Christ yet. There will be situations when we encounter this issue on many different levels. Will our mission be to exalt the name of Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to do a work in each of us, or otherwise?
Quotes From This Episode:
- “Most gay Christians I know want to be seen as real and whole people with a whole set of issues, the least of which is their sexuality.” – @bendubow
- “I don’t need a place where we agree on everything. I need a place where it’s safe to be real and take my mask off.” – @bendubow
- “We’re not going to agree on everything, and we don’t have to agree on everything to respect one another and honor one another.” – @joshgagnon
- “We need to surrender our agendas and be okay with the messiness of peoples’ lives.” – @bendubow
- “You have to ask yourself, how many people that are gay would be following Jesus today if the church didn’t shut Jesus off simply because they were gay?” – @joshgagnon
- “The goal is to create a safe place to encounter Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do the work in each of us.” – @bendubow
- “The more we focus on the Jesus that loves us in spite of us, the more we can offer that Jesus to others.” – @joshgagnon
After you have listened to it, let me know your thoughts or questions.
Here is an interesting follow up the story flying around the internet last week about Hillsong NY & LGBT folks… Why Survivor’s ‘Broadway Boyfriends’ will keep singing with Hillsong Church – On Faith & Culture.
Here is my post, partially in reaction to Brian Houston’s statement on the situation.
Overall, I think this is an excellent example of how conservative churches should be and can be engaged with these issues. As I recently discussed with Pastor Josh Gagnon, the real key is for churches to create safe places and spaces for LGBT people to encounter God and become fully devoted followers of Him. Churches like Hillsong and Next Level are getting it done.
Cards on the table: I believe that the best and most faithful readings of scripture support full inclusion of LGBT folks in the full life of the church.
To me, it comes down to the Love Test — what fulfills Christ’s command to love best and what produces love in others the best; and the Fruit Test — what produces healthy fruit in people’s lives… Intimacy with God, lasting authentic relationships, impactful ministry, etc.
BUT, I recognize that not all faithful Christians have arrived at this place (yet). Some of the people I most respect and have been mentored by, do not share this position. I believe we need to not just create safe spaces and places for LGBT folks to encounter God, but also safe spaces and places for leaders, pastors and churches to work through these issues. For example, I just had a great conversation as part of a podcast with Pastor Joshua Gagnon on this very issue. I attended Josh’s church, we disagree on this issue, but we both have a deep love and respect for each other and are willing to show grace as we enter the conversation together. (You can listen here)
Brian Houston, lead pastor of the Hillsong movement, released a statement (click here) recently affirming their love for gay people. Gay people are genuinely welcomed and loved and, if I read his statement properly, even allowed into membership. But they cannot be involved in ministry/leadership. In other words, they are not allowed to exercise their spiritual gifts in the church (especially if those gifts involve leadership, preaching, teaching, worship leading, etc). That is, if I were to attend and even be a member at Hillsong, I would not be permitted to use my gifts to help build the church.
This is where the (gay) rubber meets the (church) road.
To me, this is a violation of the love and fruit tests. It also is contrary to what evangelicals teach. We are taught that every Christ-follower needs to “discover their SHAPE” and use their gifts in ministry and mission to help build the church and expand the Kingdom of God. We are told that this is critical to discipleship, spiritual growth and sanctification. It is taught that this is core to what it means to be a follower of Jesus — unless, of course, you are LGBT.
I am about to attend the annual Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit. I go every year and make it a non-negotiable in my annual leadership development strategy. Leadership is my strongest spiritual gift and the Summit feeds my soul, sharpens me, equips me, challenges me.
I am already anticipating the annual “challenge” from Bill Hybels… Discover your holy discontent, get in the game, pursue your higher calling, all it takes to change a church is a leader willing to step up… Change a church and you change a community… There is nothing like the local church and the local church needs more leaders…
But there is an underlying message, that while not spoken I am aware of: the people who host the Summit and sponsor the Summit do not believe I am worthy to be in leadership in the local church because I am a follower of Jesus who also happens to be gay.
I choose to live with this tension and I don’t allow it to ruin the Summit for me, but I am aware of the tension and it can be painful at times.
My prayer for the church universal is that we would keep talking, learning and loving… Because we can do better, we must do better, and I believe by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will do better.
This is a great post from Ben Irwin… Worth reading through…
Evangelicals are starting to acknowledge the harm they’ve done to the LGBT community.
For example, at this year’s Q conference in Boston, Gabe Lyons told those gathered that the church ought to repent for how it’s treated gays and lesbians. Then he went a step further, offering a public apology to Andrew Sullivan (in response to the above quote).
Megachurch pastor David Whiting began a recent sermon on homosexuality apologizing for the “hatred, anger, dislike, and disdain” churches have shown to gay people. With visible remorse, he acknowledged that “Christians have gotten a reputation for being homophobic because many Christians are homophobic.”
Reflecting on the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, Christianity Today editor Mark Galli called on evangelicals to repent of homophobia, fear, and prejudice.
Atlanta pastor Dewey Smith took heat for a recent sermon in which he compared the dehumanization of gays to the experience of blacks at the height of the slave trade. “We have done what…
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