April 17, 2014

Ask Questions: Don't Presume

In discussing faith and sexuality with hundreds of gay Christian teens and young adults, a similar theme keeps emerging that many of us miss. When we hear a young person self-identify as LGBTQ, we assume they are pro-gay in their belief. Time after time, we assume wrong. 

Recently, another one of these conversations was underway within my earshot. I tuned in to listen carefully to what was being said. This beautiful young girl - a gay Christian teen - shared with another Christian teen about her gay identity. 

The conversation unfolded for several minutes. This young girl went on and on about what gay identity meant to her. Finally, the other Christian teen said: "So how did you come to believe that the Bible approves of gay relationships? The girl responded: "Oh God, I am still confused about that!"    

The need for God's love, the value of acceptance and efforts to include can bless ALL gay teens regardless of their beliefs. Only don't assume too casually that you know what they mean when they talk about their identity. We must slow down our presumptions and begin to ask more questions.

I watch many gay teens get moralized out of the church because of presumption. We need to strive to include ALL gay teenagers, yet we have a big problem when we are propelling teens away from the church because we think we know what they believe. 

Insights: tame presumption, nourish faith identity in gay teens where they are, and foster dialogue that nurtures a sense of acceptance, inclusion and understanding. Don't presume: ask questions. 

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April 9, 2014

Speaking at Gordon College


It was an honor to return for a 7th time to present LTH in the Sociology Department at Gordon College. Following, I also shared time with a group who routinely meet to discuss sexual wholeness. To learn how LTH can serve your student body, contact us today. Ask about our FREE introductory SKYPE video call available to church, seminary, campus and other ministry leaders. 

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April 7, 2014

An American Baptist Church

I recently had a privileged opportunity: to share Lead Them Home's Posture Shift seminar within an American Baptist Church that is primarily gay affirming in its posture. They are considering moving from "everyone is welcome" to "welcoming and affirming."

They invited a denominational resource to present how to move to a "welcoming and affirming" church identity. They invited Lead Them Home to essentially share what a "faithful and welcoming" model looks like. Several themes emerged that gave me a deep sense of unity within Christianity.

(1) Even progressive (to liberal) Christians can struggle in relating to gay people. Many questions asked in liberal churches are identical to those asked in conservative churches. Nearly all Christians are asking how to have more productive and less offensive spiritual dialogue with gay people. 

(2) Even evangelical churches are striving to offer a spiritual home for LGBTQ people. Sometimes liberal Christians are surprised to learn that many of their efforts to share the Gospel with gay people are also being done in very conservative settings.

(3) Even progressive (to liberal) Christians are much more concerned about treating people in a loving manner rather than changing their moral beliefs to a gay theological viewpoint. 

(4) Even progressive (to liberal) Christians are concerned about their church identity. They want to be inclusive, but they often do not want to become "the gay church" in town. They want to attract conservative believers as much as LGBTQ persons.

I come away from this experience thanking God for, dare I say, a bit of unity across the belief gap. I also come away convinced that Posture Shift is a valuable resource across this spectrum.

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April 4, 2014

Greater Boston Men's Breakfast

Lead Them Home was pleased to present a portion of our Posture Shift teaching at this Greater Boston Men's Breakfast earlier today. One of the great untapped resources in the church? Men able to lovingly engage gay teens and young adults within their congregations. No shortage of such men at this church. The questions and conversation demonstrated that many men of all ages are willing to be a father figure, mentor or listening ear to younger people. Thanks for a GREAT breakfast!
 
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March 31, 2014

World (Re-)Vision(ed): A Case Study

World Vision
Postmortem Reflections

Lead Them Home does not comment on every headline or current event. In this case, our insights from a decade of complex work on the topic of faith and sexuality yields valuable insights. Below are several reflections: to learn more, ask for our special report World Vision Case Study.

FIRST: World Vision's process of implementing a new employment policy (since reversed) was poorly executed. The billion dollar organization readily had access to the counsel of Christian business and ministry leadership experts - likely at no or little cost. Many more questions needed to be asked.

SECOND: As evangelical ministries age and expand, they attract donors from a broader base of Christianity and society. In business, this is called success - or going viral. In ministry, it is also success but the risks of secularization increase. Think: Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.

         Measuring Secularization Risk
  • SIZE: Forbes ranks WV as the 10th largest U.S. charity (2013). Comparatively, Habitat for Humanity is the 14th largest U.S. charity and Salvation Army is the 2nd largest.
  • DEPENDENCE: WV received $179 million in government grants (20% of 2013 funding). 
  • LAWS: Dependence on grants can elevate conflicts between values and govt. mandates.
  • BOARD: When executives of publicly traded corporations join a Christian ministry board, do fears about their secular corporate credibility lead them toward secularization?
  • MISSION STATEMENT: WV retains a very clear and strong biblical faith statement. 
  • FINDING:  They are in a "high risk" category for increasing secularization. 
THIRD: Pope Francis has emerged as a cultural hero by offering generous ideas on ministry to gay families. Some church leaders are attempting to capture similar applause. They rely too heavily on Gallup trend lines. Lesson: an evangelical funding base is not a secular (or secular media) base.

FOURTH: As evangelicals, our spiritual fight or flight reflex often yields the least effective witness of Christ at the most critical moment. We need more humility. There is a high level of hypocrisy in much of the criticism leveled at World Vision. The important point is what lessons can be learned?

World Vision attempted a "posture shift" without consultation and it failed. Could it have worked? 

Lead Them Home helps evangelical faith communities develop biblical models for inclusion and nurture faith identity in LGBTQ persons while preserving biblical orthodoxy. This is complex and challenging work. To learn more, request our special report: World Vision Case Study.

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