5. What will your going public cost you or the church?
If the return on your public announcement is slight, but the cost is severe, this may be a good time to skip it.
As the new pastor of a church in suburban New Orleans, I was invited to be a last-minute replacement on a television panel discussing homosexuality. The makeup of the panel made it clear I was expected to be anti-gay.
The Lord’s Spirit within me said, “No!” in no uncertain terms. I promptly and politely declined the invite.
The last thing I wanted or needed was to establish myself as some kind of authority or spokesman or activist on the homosexual lifestyle. As a new resident, I was uninformed of local issues that might be discussed, but more than that, I hoped to have a ministry to that segment of our community. The surest way to kill that possibility was to become known as a gay-basher.
As a young pastor, I was invited to join a panel at the local Baptist Student Union on the subject of “Is Mormonism Christian?” At the time, I had studied little on the subject and should have turned it down. Instead, without praying about it, I accepted and spoke out on matters of which I was ignorant. Later, it was reported the word had gotten out in the local Mormon community that I was hostile to them. That was a burden I could have lived without.
A couple of years later, when I tried to dialogue with a professor at the local college who was bringing Mormonism into the campus radio broadcasts, he opened the discussion with, “I’ve been expecting your call.” When I showed surprise, he said, “Your hostility toward our church is well documented.”
6. What will be the gain if I go public?
What do I hope to accomplish by speaking out on this issue? If the answer is to vent my spleen—that is, to get something off my chest and ease my conscience—it would be best to skip this altogether.
Only if people are helped, the Lord is honored, and my church is strengthened, only then should I go forward.