Community of Grace started from the get go as an open and affirming church, meaning we openly welcome gays and lesbians. Well, you'd think that would have made some people take notice, but it didn't.
It hasn't been a total failing. We have one person who is a vital part of the church that came because CoG was a welcoming place. But as for others, it is hard to get them to come to church. I'm beginning to think that bad publicity is much more effective than good publicity. Many gays and lesbians have had bad experiences in church and therefore see all churches as somehow suspect.
A lot of the people that Dan and I know just don't seem interested. However, they will attend "showtunes" at a local gay bar in Minneapolis. I've been there myself after service a few times and it is fun. A friend of mine looks for video clips from movies and television and you see a crowd of gay men singing a long. There is a gang of people that always attends and finds some sense of community there.
Of course, for a population that has been beaten down like gay men, it's easy to find solace in old movies and broadway tunes. I can totally understand the popularity of this event.
My partner in crime, Dan, thinks we should hold service earlier to allow those who want to go to showtunes a chance to worship and then go. I hesitate, because we could do that and not have anyone showing up. I tend to think this issue is deeper than just the time frame and it will take a lot more than offering an easier time to entice people to church.
There is an old saying that Christ has no hand and feet but ours. Well, if you see those hands and feet, not to mention mouths, saying that you aren't welcomed at church because of your sexuality and even says you are going to hell because of it, well, you have basically said Christ thinks the same way.
Only, Jesus doesn't. The hard part is convincing my friends.
My friend Jim is a part of this church because it welcomes him. My guess is that he doesn't have as much baggage about the church and saw more about God than what he viewed from the pulpit. I wonder if there are others like Jim out there and even moreso, how do you persuade those whose hearts are more hardened towards the church.
More on this later...