So tonight, we had our first LITT (Living in the Tension) gathering and, I think, we are off to a wonderful start. There were perhaps 12 of us there, and within this number, there were vastly different views represented. It was beautifully tense you might say. Passions flared for but a moment, which is good because that means people care A LOT about this group, and then we huddled ourselves back around the fire of love and community and Christ.
We got this, I know we do.
Earlier in the day I solicited advice from my friends on twitter about different questions/topics/approaches/etc to make this group be something spiritually redemptive. A success for both the church and LGBT community. A place where we can feel brave enough to wonder out loud and safe enough to share the most vulnerable parts of our story.
I have absolutely incredible people in my corner on twitter. Seriously. The responses I received meant the world to me.
But. I don’t want it to stop there. We have to keep talking about this.
46thpsalm, the blogger behind Radical Grace:
“I think the best approach is to make church members recognize commonalities. People like to suppose #LGBT are different.”
“Emphasize that God’s love is for all, and that respectful disagreement is even OK, so long as it’s done with dignity.”
“I would stress that our job as the body of Christ is to show God’s love, not presuppose his judgment.”
“can’t make everyone agree with us or condone something they don’t approve of. But you can demonstrate our inherent worth.”
“I might also use examples of Jesus associating with people the “average person” doesn’t accept, such as tax collectors, etc”
Charlotte Norton, the blogger behind Middle Ground:
“how to make ministry/worship welcoming to LGBT people. How to translate theory/belief into practice that honours personhood”
“lots of thoughts…1. language used . People need to know appropriate terms for describing/speaking to LGBT people “
“2. dialogue. people need to know it is possible to co-exist with someone who has a different opinion “
“3. outreach. the LGBT community needs to know you are there for them”
“4. needs. the LGBT community has specific needs and “issues” – how to deal with someone who has previously been hurt? “
“5. relationships. LGBT people need to be supported and befriended as they are.”
“6. Related to 5. LGBT people come in couples and many need support like straight couples. How will church deal with this? “
“the main thing is that the church needs to decide what the vision is before figuring out how to implement it (to avoid giving the “wrong message” about itself to LGBT people and its own members)”
Julie ( 🙂 ), the blogger behind Incite Faith:
“Let everyone speak from experience. Everyone will have different denominations and beliefs. Creates productive dialogue.”
“Let them speak in the 1st person– and from personal experience. “I feel,” “I believe” are good prompts.”
“Have others share their stories and empathize the space is safe to share their thoughts and opinions on their sexuality.”
“Facilitator should focus on healing given the emotional pain inflicted by the Church w/o making them feel like a victim”
Rohan Salmond, blogger behind Hey! Crunch King!:
“My major thing is making sure Side B folk don’t let properly homophobic rhetoric slide when it’s in the news etc…”
“I’d like to challenge the notion that LGBT folk aren’t able to lead small groups etc too.”
“Is barring us from broader theological conversations in that way actually healthy for the life of the Church?”
“Questioning the narrow definition of masculinity churches hold would be good. “Men’s retreats” are always about sport etc.”
“Asking how to encourage a safe environment to be questioning would be a good broad question to ask too!“
The dynamic duo, Tony and Jordan, bloggers behind gaysubtlety:
“Sorry, late to the party (was playing soccer). Story based to start (allows people to feel heard and known, prevents eventual disagreement from being mired in ignorance. Practical, local initiatives you could partner with.”
“And I agree with Charlotte Norton that the church should come up with a vision statement that the whole church has access to.”
“Important that this not just be a side-group to discuss LGBTQ things, but a think tank for the church body and its future.”
Amy Mitchell, the blogger behind Unchained Faith, offered some much needed encouragement:
“I will continue to pray for grace and love in the conversation.”
In the air tonight, as we reached the end of our time, was a palpable understanding that we were headed for minefield. We agreed that we can only cross it if we do this together. But only if we choose to love and learn from one another. Something noticeably absent in the broader church and cultural dialogue.
I am both hopeful and nervous.
And your responses have made a HUGE difference. I am showing these to my Pastor leading this thing.
There is a clear consensus for ensuring a safe space where love is emphasized and stories are valued. That is what will lead us forward. That will be what fuels us.
But, now, I must call on your services again… We are looking for topics to cover in our gatherings. Things like bullying, gender identity, progressive revelation are a few on my mind.
But do you have any others? What are some topics that we can start with that will set us on a firm footing? Ones that aren’t emotionally explosive? We’re new at this and the last thing we need is a nasty fight.
Any good Bible Stories that can relate to gay folks or reconciliation?
Any excellent books that we could read?
Any movies or documentaries?
Any tough but critical questions?
What about those who are curious about the LGBT community?
What questions do you have?
What is the best way for you to learn more about us?
What do you want to know?
How can we help you?
Again, I don’t care if you are LGBT, a woman or a man, old or young, black or white, conservative or liberal, Christian or not, I want your input because you matter to this conversation. And you most certainly matter to me.
Fill me in!