My wife and I were visiting a church on Sunday. I’d been there a few times, and it was my wife’s first time there. After the service, as we were heading for the door, someone came up and said hello.
There was the usual awkward small talk. Then the woman said, “That’s my wife over there. We came to this church in the ’90s, when it was a real step of faith, whether or not we’d be accepted. Well, when we could finally be officially married, this place was packed to the rafters. That’s the kind of place this is.”
Something to that effect.
I hate visiting churches. But it’s incredible when a single moment can cover over a bad sermon or boring music or a painful encounter. A simple moment that says, ‘This is who we are.’
Rarely does it have anything to do with church marketing.
Four candidates are competing in a primary for a Ward 3 seat on West St. Paul’s city council.
Last week I posed the following question to [most of] the candidates:
At the June 25, 2018 city council meeting, a citizen asked about the possibility of displaying LGBTQ Pride flags along Robert Street for Pride Month next year. The city council would need to approve such a move. Assuming the logistics can be worked out, would you be in favor of displaying Pride flags on Robert Street?
I sent the question on July 10 and asked for their responses by July 17. Below are their responses in alphabetical order. Continue reading Pride Flags: Where Do West St. Paul Ward 3 City Council Candidates Stand?
This whole flip-flop fiasco with World Vision (declaring one day that they’ll employee abstinent or married gay people and then reversing the decision two days later) just makes me sad. I wrote a piece about it for Church Marketing Sucks, but it’s primarily from a communication lens, exploring how World Vision tried to [rightly] focus on their mission of helping kids in poverty but in the process forgot that very mission. In short, they ended up in a fight about gay people instead of helping kids in poverty.
I think that was a tragic miscue, and I’m curious if more will come out about how this situation went down. Tony Jones claims to have the inside scoop from “unnamed sources” at World Vision (which sounds all cloak and dagger, though in this social media age that sounds totally reasonable), that basically this had been a multi-year process roll out but a leak to Christianity Today forced their hand.
However it went down, it’s unfortunate. Rather than taking a stand on LGBT issues, World Vision was trying to opt out of the discussion so they could be focused on more important things. I think that’s commendable. The fact that opting out was vehemently rejected is shameful. We’re not talking about a church, a pastor or a theological publisher—somebody dealing with theology where a stand on sexuality might actually be important. We’re talking about child sponsorship. We’re not even talking about affirming gay marriage, we’re talking about avoiding a fight.
I’m convinced that LGBT issues are going to continue to rip the church apart until either we figure out how to handle this or there’s nothing left. Actual LGBT people are hurting and struggling with their faith, and we’re too busy arguing about whether or not it’s OK to employ them. Other people see this as one more reason to walk away from the church.
Continue reading World Vision & Arguing Over Gay People
As last week’s Supreme Court decision and the ensuing reaction highlight, the conservative church is losing the debate over gay marriage.
Frankly, I welcome it.
For much of my life I’ve noticed the conservative church taking an approach to social issues that basically tells other people how to live. It’s judgmental, it forces beliefs on others and it denies people basic rights. I’m sure they don’t see it that way, but I think that’s how it’s coming across in the wider culture. What’s worse is that it gives the impression that blindly following a bunch of rules is what makes someone a Christian, that what is good and right and lovely in the eyes of God is wearing long skirts, not drinking beer and making sure people don’t get gay married.
I don’t get it.
I think it’s time for the church to stop expecting the world to follow our beliefs. You can’t legislate people into Christians. That’s not the great commission.
The church claims to be about love, but when all we do is argue about cultural issues and try to make people do stuff they don’t believe, we’re exhibiting the opposite of love.
It’s time the church figured out how to live in disagreement. It’s time churches figure out how to be the minority. Because guess what—that’s where we are.
Where this gets especially interesting is that the church itself is in deep disagreement. I used the phrase ‘conservative church’ above because not all churches condemn the LGBT lifestyle. Some churches are LGBT affirming and it’s interesting watching both sides try to navigate these waters. I think it’s time for the church to recognize the disagreement, let other people live how they want to live, and move on as brothers and sisters in unity.
Some other people have more eloquent things to say about faith and LGBT issues than I do:
Reading stories like these (and also browsing my social media feeds and seeing a lot more joy than dismay) gives me hope.