Friday, December 07, 2007

More on Gays and the Emergent Church, or Where the Boys Are

My friend Tim (aka: Feral Pastor) responded to my post about welcoming gays into the church:

I think you're right on. My sense is that the church has an enormous amount of work to do to etsablish trust and credibility (which I doubt it ever had) with the gay community, and no amount of "you'll be welcome... if you happen to come to our place where we are" sentiment is going to accomplish that. The church has to go to where the gay folks are and demonstrate acceptance - not to mention love - before it will have earned a hearing for the gospel. The people I read/listen to refer to that as the difference between attractional and incarnational ministry.

I think he is correct. Now, I happen to know a lot of Lutherans and of course, a lot of gay Lutherans. I know many who are fighting for inclusion of gays and lesbians, especially those who feel called to preach, or who are already ordained and fear falling off the roster. When the ELCA has fallen short of allowing gays in relationships to freely serve as pastors, I have heard the call that this will keep people away from the church. I think this line is partly true: if a church shows it isn't welcoming to all, then you can't expect that many are going to stay or come to a church. But the corralary is not necessarily true; if we become more gay friendly; then gay people will start showing up at our doors. This isn't going to happen for a two main reasons: one, the church has done such a craptasitic job in welcoming people like me that many gays don't want to come near a church, even if the church would offer a drag show before the Sunday service. The second reason, is that the church doesn't have the same power in American society that it once did. America is a religious society, but the role of religion is not the same as it once was. Once, America had a civic religion that was basically bland Protestantism. Today, we are a multi-religious society where there is no civic religion at all. People can and do share their faith, but the Christian faith is not as prevelent in the major media as it once was. Years ago, people could sing religious songs in public schools. You can't do that now.

I have many gay friends for whom Sunday is just a day to sleep in. They may have been religious at one time, but now, they tend to be non religious. Jesus, God and the church don't mean a lot to them. For them, it might not matter that a church welcomes gays.

Unless...the church goes into the world.

Tim is correct: The church has to earn the respect of the gay community before it will consider Christ. That's why we need to be more incarnational than attractional, more willing to go into the places where gays and lesbians live: sometimes that means the gay bars, and other social groups, but it could also be the coffeeshop down the street or some other place. The short of it is, we need to go "where the Boys are." The church can't expect people to just walk up to its doors anymore, no matter how "progressive" one might appear. It's time to put up, or shut up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You make good points. Hey, didn't you say something about having "meeting" in The Eagle or something? There is a church in the UK that meets in a gay pub, I think it's called Ikon.

Hey, FYI, the email I sent you, disregard that URL. It is actually