What posture should the church take when it comes to LGBT visitors and seekers?
Hillsong Church’s Carl Lentz believes we should be ‘gay welcoming’ without compromising our convictions, according to a recent interview with Jonathan Merritt for Religion News Service. Lentz says, “Our beliefs on biblical marriage and sexual morality have never changed at Hillsong church. Yet we stay open and desperate in our pursuit of the whosoevers.” Read more here.
Hillsong’s grace-centered approach has many detractors, but it’s hard to deny the fact that their unique ‘welcoming’ culture is bringing more and more people to faith in Christ.
“What concerns me is that it seems like more people are concerned about our ‘method,’ despite the fact it’s working, than they are the young gay teens that are killing themselves, and the LGBT community at large that has found zero refuge in our ‘churches,'” Lentz says.
And this is the kicker. While we clamor to make a stand against the evils of homosexuality, real human beings in the LGBT community are dying without hope. Why? Because they see the church as the enemy–not a refuge.
Andy Stanley, the pastor of North Point Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, said something just as bold about welcoming LGBT teens during a talk at Catalyst West–pointing out that our churches should be the “safest place on the planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.”
Stanley went on to drive the point home even more, “We just need to decide from now on in our churches when a Middle School kid comes out to his small group leader or a high school young lady comes out to her parents… we just need to decide, regardless of what you think about this topic — no more students are going to feel like they have to leave the local church because they’re same-sex attracted or because they’re gay. That ends with us.”
Some leaders have voiced concern about the inclusive perspective Carl Lentz and Andy Stanley suggest–that it ignores the need to be set apart, but it’s an important issue to discuss together–and it’s a critical discussion every leader should have with their staff.
So should your church become ‘gay welcoming’ without being ‘gay affirming,’ and if so, what does it look like in everyday practice?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below, but please keep it civil. Make sure your response is thoughtful and adds to the value of the conversation–no matter what side you take.