The Religion News Service poll that we have been analyzing over the past week indicates that 40% of Americans give churches (“places of worship”) a D or F in how they address homosexuality; yet 45% give their own church an A or B. Evangelicals top the charts: 75% of us grade our churches an A or B.
I am encountering a growing number of evangelical leaders who are making significant efforts to earn an A. Most evangelicals I know genuinely desire for gay people to sense Christ’s love in our churches. This may explain why so many of us grade our churches an A or B. While I want to applaud these developments, I believe that we must hold ourselves to a very high standard in light of so many LGBT+ people feeling judged and excluded from the invitations of Christ.
I am left asking: how can 75% of us give our own church an A or B? It seems to me that we still have a tremendous amount of work to do before we could ever be worthy of such a grade. Our failure to see just how much work is needed will increasingly fracture the evangelical community in the next few years. Why?
The church is experiencing a dramatic generational shift from one that invested heavily in culture war to one that is highly committed to social justice. Wrapped up in the next generation’s social justice ideology are the wrongs that the church has committed against LGBT+ folks. If we do not “own” this history and reshape our welcome of gay people in the church, we will risk losing younger evangelicals as they branch off to include gay people.
Put simply: while the prior generation did not know how to love gay people, this next generation may not be able to hold to orthodoxy. This coming generation will likely operate as a mirror-image opposite of the last. After all, every generation struggles to get “love and truth” balanced properly. We tend to over-correct.
To maintain orthodoxy in a generation tempted to embrace theological drift, we are in need of what I call “posture shift.” This shift will prove to the coming generation of evangelicals that it is possible to hold firmly to orthodoxy while still radically loving and welcoming gay friends and family.
I capture a portrait of what this posture shift looks like in a special training for church leaders called Shift 20.20. Whether your church is an A or a D, this training will radically change the way your church reaches out to, welcomes and cares for those who identify as LGBT+ – as well as those who experience SSA. To schedule Shift 20.20 at your church, simply contact me.
Lead Them Home, helping churches get it right.
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