SEVEN YEARS OF SOWING
November 19, 2003: the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled gay marriage legal. I was on a plane to Ohio to share my faith story to 30 InterVarsity students. I arrived to dozens of protesters and an auditorium of nearly 750 people. About 350 were from Cleveland’s LGBT+ community. They came expecting to hear a hateful message. I went to extend Christ’s love. I left that evening thinking, if this is what gay people think of Christians, then we are not doing a very good job of reflecting Christ’s love to others.
Just 30 days later I sat down to journal. It was around 10:30 pm at night. After writing for quite some time, I looked up and the clock read 4:30 am. Before my eyes was a 50 page vision statement for what ultimately became Lead Them Home. It took nearly 2 years to get the vision down to a single page.
In early 2006, after a couple of years of digesting this missional calling, I left the corporate world to devote full-time to Lead Them Home (originally Lead Them Home, Inc.). The mission was complex: to equip church leaders to shepherd the generational shift from culture war to social justice. Specifically, to enhance outreach to and pastoral care of LGBT+ and SSA persons in a manner that preserves biblical orthodoxy.
Out of this simple vision emerged a number of seminars that help conservative faith communities to nurture rather than chop at the roots of faith in LGBT+ persons.
Family Care Seminar was created in early 2006 to help families enhance their relational connection to LGBT+ loved ones. Over 500 family members have attended one of our Family Care Seminars.
Across the Divide was designed to help foster spiritual dialogue between evangelicals and LGBT+ communities – especially on campus ministries. We have held several such events, and now the LGBT+ community is doing similar events. I was recently invited to serve as a panelist at one of their events.
The Church That Saves Lives was created to educate conservative communities about the real dangers LGBT+ teens face in our world and to equip them to take a tangible stand against anti-gay bullying while working to reduce gay teen suicide. We partner with LGBT+ leaders in learning how to cooperatively work together on these important endeavors.
Posture Shift brings it all together and offers church leaders a comprehensive training that dramatically enhances the organic witness of local churches across the country. This seminar is reaching church pastors and elders, seminary faculty, staff and students, university campus ministries, middle school and high school youth ministries, social workers, Christian counselors, and many others.
We hear feedback from church leaders around the country who report increased skills for engaging and nurturing faith identity in LGBT+ and SSA persons. We hear of families who are so grateful for Lead Them Home’s relational model, which has helped improve many parent-child relationships. Research shows that this enhanced care will lower gay teen suicidality. Additionally, our work is building increased credibility in the LGBT+ community. Lead Them Home now counsels dozens of LGBT+-identified individuals. We have established cooperative informal partnerships with key LGBT+ leaders We bring Jesus to people where they are and nurture faith identity by sharing the Jesus who rescues, comforts and invites “come to me…”
One gay teen recently said: “Religious people always made me feel like I am not wanted by God. I already knew I was not wanted by my father. I am amazed that Jesus wants me. This makes it harder to ignore the Bible, because you have helped me to experience that God is good.” It is never my agenda to get to Leviticus. What is important is pointing people to Jesus; to lead them home.
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