Human Sexuality Conversations and Church Renewal

Written by Keith Doornbos
December 26, 2022

Without healthy relationships, church revitalization is impossible. Here are 7 agreements that improve church health.

Essential to church renewal is congregational health.  Without healthy relationships revitalization is impossible.  Sadly, many congregations needing a fresh start are mired in unhealthy dialogue about same sex attraction, gender identity and Christian discipleship.  These graceless conversations have led to inhospitable environments for guests, members leaving and, in some cases, churches dividing.  Even on this difficult issue, however, churches can disagree agreeably. They can infuse conversations with grace and increase congregational health if they begin by embracing seven simple agreements.

Here Are 7 Agreements That Improve Congregational Health
Agreement 1: We Agree, There Are No Bad People in This Room

Begin with the posture that every person engaged in this discussion (whether traditional, affirming or somewhere in between) is equally committed to sincere Jesus following.  Convictions may differ but the commitment to Christian discipleship is the same.

Agreement 2: We Agree, Condescension Shold Never Be Present Among Us

Whether gay or straight, affirming or traditional everyone is a sinner in need of grace.  Given that, we will ruthlessly remove, both in heart and mind, condescending attitudes toward others.  Most importantly, we will avoid “my way or the highway” attitudes or demands.

Agreement 3: We Agree, Christian Hospitality Should be Extended to all

Whether traditional or affirming, every church should pursue a radical hospitality towards those God puts in our path.  Jesus’ genuine love for society’s marginalized is our guide. Hospitality demands that we nurture hospitable hearts, sanctuaries and homes.

Agreement 4:  We Agree, Balancing God’s Best with Real Life Is Nothing New

God’s design is one man, one woman, one faith, one time.  Between that design and life’s realities are a host of challenges.  Those challenges have led to decades of discussion about what is or is not acceptable as Jesus followers.  This is just one more of those discussions.

Agreement 5: We Agree, Unity is Our Goal

In John 17:23 Jesus declares that our unity is our testimony, “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me…” (NLT).   In other words, being gracious is more important than being right.  The fruit of the Spirit must permeate every conversation.

Agreement 6: We Agree, Understanding is as important as being right

James tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (1:19).  Listening is about learning.  The best listening happens in dialogue (council rooms, classrooms, living rooms) not monologue.  Since preaching is monologic, it should be employed sparingly in this delicate conversation.

Agreement 7: We Agree, We Can Be Patient

Sacred time is not secular time.  Peter says, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day” II Peter 3:8.  This issue will take time to work its way out.  The best rhythm is wrestling, resting, returning.  Make room for seasons of reflection and prayer.

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