Yesterday I spent a full day equipping pastors and leaders. Our goal is to help leaders think through how their church can be a safer place for all “limpers”. It’s always a draining day – for the participants and for me. Change takes a lot of energy. Dealing with mindsets, assumptions and fear is hard work. One pastor yesterday said, “You’re stretching us!” To which I replied, “I’m being stretched too.”
We like to have nice neat answers. Truth is, mission and ministry are messy. Grace is messy. Relationships, if they’re worth their salt, are messy. So when we offer these seminars we let people know right upfront that we’re not going to spoon feed them simple answers – but that we’re going to invite them to wrestle with real life situations that require tremendous humility, discernment and love to engage.
Yesterday, I cried in the seminar. I didn’t expect to. But as I was sharing stories of the same-gender attracted and gay people I’ve had the privilege of coming to know, I was just overwhelmed with emotion. After six years of serving with New Direction I am more convinced than ever that the church is impoverished by the absence or the hiding of our same-gender attracted brothers and sisters. Of course, this sense of impoverishment will only be more fully realized as Christ-followers engage in meaningful friendships with their gay neighbours.
So let me give a quick shout-out to the pastors and leaders from yesterday’s seminar – your open-heartedness was an encouragement, your willingness to tackle challenging case studies admirable, and your readiness to be stretched a sign of hopefulness as, together, we seek to create a safer place within the Christian community.