In my last posting, The Pastor & the grace of Christ: standing between the congregation & harm, I explained how the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force had produced a booklet that was to be used to help small unofficial groups move a church to become a welcoming church for the LGBTQ community.* I noted that the pastor and the biblical grace of God were those bulwarks that stand between their agenda and the congregation.There is more in the booklet that might be addressed, but one particular statement was troubling and I want to speak to highlight it. There is a chart of sorts showing how different personalities will react to the idea of becoming a welcoming church.
The chart called “CATEGORIES OF INNOVATION IN THE WELCOMING MOVEMENT,” name those who are the last to agree or who never agree to a welcoming church as laggards. In the chart their values are “tradition, predictability and constancy. After watching the LGBTQ movie “The Bible Tells Me So,” they will simply say “Let’s go home.” The only appeal to them is civility. (Of course calling them laggards isn’t civil.) In this context when writing of how to present the ideas about a welcoming church the authors state:
Laggards or “The Traditional” — These are the people who are not going to change. Period. It is an unfortunate term, but it is accurate. They make up about 16% of the organization.
They also write:Don’t design for the Laggards or the Late Adopters, which is what is usually done. They are not going to change and focusing on convincing them will only slow the process down or end it all together.
Laggards can be resilient, but do not give them more energy than they deserve. They are a small percentage that will sound like they are the majority. They are not. You should hear them, but do not let them control the process.
What I want to say here is that apparently the orthodox have a reputation and it is a good one although those defining the orthodox don’t understand their own words. Constant in what you believe— standing in the faith. Isn’t that what Paul admonishes Christians to do when all else has been done, to stand firm. Keep standing.And this that I have quoted above: the authors rationalize, “They [the laggards] are a small percentage that will sound like they are the majority. They are not.” It reminds me of a wonderful Bible story. The king of Aram attempts to capture the prophet Elisha, surrounding the city of Dothan with a great army. When Elisha’s servant goes out in the morning and sees the army he fearfully returns to tell Elisha, who then prays that God will open the servant’s eyes:
“And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)
I would tremble to scoff at those who are standing faithful to Christ. Imagine what holy armies stand about them, unseen by any.
What is undoubtedly not understood by the authors of Building an Inclusive Church a welcoming Toolkit 2.0, is that all are sinners and in need of the new life given by Jesus Christ though his death on the cross and resurrection. It is not our righteousness that holds us steady, rather it is the righteousness of Christ. It is the keeping power of the Lord.
*-I want to emphasize that Christians should welcome anyone who comes to their church, but this does not mean condoning or encouraging their sin-nor does it mean that the unrepentant sinner should be allowed in leadership.