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Leading a Church in a Time of Sexual Questioning, An Excerpt

By April 4, 2019 No Comments

“Christians have a bad reputation in this arena, and sadly, in many cases it is well deserved. We do not have a good track record of showing love and pursuing justice for LGBT+ people who have commonly suffered ridicule, condemnation, rejection, exclusion, discrimination, and even violence.” – Bruce Miller

In a time when sexual norms are changing rapidly, how can a local church be a place of grace—a loving community for all kinds of people—where everyone can flourish and disagreements are overcome in a Christlike spirit while at the same time stay true to biblical standards?

In a way that appeals to pastors and lay leaders alike, Bruce Miller’s Leading a Church in a Time of Sexual Questioning, from Leadership Network NEXT/Harper Collins Christian Publishing Book Series, offers a biblical theology of sexuality and provides practical wisdom for how a church can approach ministering to, and alongside, people who identify their sexuality in diverse ways: LGBTQ+. Here is a church-tested program full of wise pastoral insights to help church leaders think through day-to-day decisions, such as how to handle baby dedications, small groups, who can serve, membership, baptism, retreats, the Lord’s Supper, weddings, funerals, teaching, hiring, and caring for those caught in sin. If you are a leader who is facing any of these challenging issues and decisions, then this practical, grace-filled book is for you.

The following is an excerpt from Leading a Church In a Time of Sexual Questioning:

As church leaders, we’ve all sat across from someone in the middle of a difficult, even heartbreaking situation.

“Pastor,” in tears, “my daughter just came home from college and told me she thinks she is a lesbian. We don’t know what to do.”

You know these stories. And you have tried to help as best you could.

“Pastor,” with downcast eyes, “I’m over thirty and not married. Am I doomed to a life of singleness?”

You have tried to encourage her.

“Pastor,” in anger, “my son just put on Facebook that he is gay and dating some guy—for all the world to see. We are so ashamed. People will ask me about it. What do I say?”

You have seen this pain and given your best spiritual guidance.

“Pastor,” in confusion, “a seventh-grade girl told her small group she is bisexual and has a crush on another girl in the youth group. Should we let her come on the overnight retreat next month?”

You have counseled this youth pastor and sought wisdom from your leaders.

“Pastor,” in hope and trepidation, “my partner and I would like to dedicate our beautiful one-year-old daughter, Charis. Would the church let us do that?”

You have wrestled with how to show grace and stand for truth, and you have agonized over potential perceptions of the congregation and the meaning of a baby dedication.

“Pastor,” with evident frustration, “it has been more than a year since my wife and I have been intimate, and I have no idea what to do. Do I have to stay married to her?”

You have offered all the solutions you know to try.

“Pastor,” in fear and concern, “I think one of the children’s workers is gay. Should we let him continue to volunteer in our children’s ministry?”

You have prayed hard over how to appreciate the servant’s heart of this dear children’s worker while being sensitive to your church member’s concerns. You’ve also worried about the precedents you might set no matter what decision you make.

It would not be hard to list dozens more “Pastor, . . .” questions like these that test our spiritual discernment on how to lead our churches well through this time of sexual questioning. If you have been in church leadership for long, you have already had to address complicated, sensitive, and soul-wrenching issues arising out of sexual differences, orientations, and dysfunctions. These come up in youth groups, small groups, children’s classes, newcomer classes, and leader meetings.

Our responses to such sexually charged questions are amplified, and potentially become explosive, in our combative public discourse. As church leaders, we are keenly aware that our church could face a lawsuit. We also fear that the social media backlash from Facebook and Twitter could be almost as damaging, especially if we put our response in writing. It might be picked up by a reporter who smells controversy, and before we know it we are on the local news. You know someone in the church will get upset no matter what stance you take, and even a well-intended conviction to protect your church could transform into a backlash against your church.

For more Grace-Filled Wisdom for Day-to-Day Ministry, order your copy today.

A native of Dallas, Bruce and his wife, Tamara, have five children and 6 grandchildren. His other books include When God Makes No Sense: A Fresh Look at Habakkuk; Sexuality: Approaching Controversy with Grace, Truth and Hope; Same-Sex Wedding: Should I attend? Same-Sex Marriage: A bold call to the church in response to the Supreme Court’s Decision; and Big God in a Chaotic World: A Study of Daniel. Bruce has also authored, Your Church in Rhythm and Your Life in Rhythm and co-authored The Leadership Baton.

 

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Greg Ligon

Author Greg Ligon

Greg Ligon has been with Leadership Network since 1997. He serves several Leadership Community Directors and oversees the organizations publishing partnerships. During his time at LN, he has also directed the Multi-Site Churches Leadership Community, Leadership Training Network and spearheaded strategic services for the organization. Greg is also one of the authors of The Multi-site Church Revolution and A Multi-site Church Road Trip. Prior to joining the LN team, Greg was responsible for creating and directing the United Methodist Campus Ministry at Southern Methodist University in Dallas for seven years. He also served as associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Waco, Texas. Greg and his wife, Susan, have two sons, Daniel and Andrew.

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