Yesterday I received a text message from a good friend that caused me to slam my phone down in disgust.
My friend had just delivered a large order of sandwiches to a church here in town to the tune of $1,500. He shared with me that it took he and another employee the majority of the morning to prepare the nearly two hundred box lunches. Although this church has a reputation for never tipping the delivery drivers from the business where my friend works, he thought surely they would tip this time. The order was enormous and the church had requested a discount. Perhaps, if nothing else, the church would tip the 10 percent discount to those who served them.
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved the work of Vincent Van Gogh. In college I had a couple of his paintings hung in my cramped little freshman dwelling – his Cafe Terrace at Night displayed prominently between Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews posters. There is just something about the rich color and deep emotive quality of his work that has always struck a deep chord in me. It wasn’t until fairly recently, however, that I learned about Vincent Van Gogh, the man. What I learned was shocking.
Let’s be honest, while there are some good reasons for leaving a church, there are a lot more bad ones. As a pastor, I hear some of them every now and then as people walk out the door. As a church planter, I hear them constantly as people walk in the door. If you’re thinking about looking for a new church home, please don’t use one of these five reasons to make the jump:
“I simply argue that the cross should be raised at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town’s garbage heap; at a crossroad so cosmopolitan that they had to write His title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek … at the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died. And that is what He died for. And that is what He died about. That is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen ought to be about.” – George Macleod
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt…”Colossians 4:6
Hey friends, I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you.
Two weeks ago I launched this site with some real fear and trepidation. I knew my first article was a sensitive one. My greatest fear in making it public was not so much in how it would be received, but in how some of my heterosexual Christian brothers and sisters might respond. I worried that it might only provide yet another platform for the angry, condemning voices of religion to shout.
However, I also knew that maybe, just maybe a different kind of conversation could emerge; one marked first and foremost by grace and respect. In the end, I thought it was well worth the risk.
I have a confession to make: I am a pastor and until now I have largely avoided the topic of homosexuality. I have avoided writing about it. I have largely avoided talking about it. And until a couple weeks ago, I have avoided preaching about it.
If I am really honest, I suppose a lot of it has had to do with fear. Homosexuality is a “lightening rod” issue. For many, it is a deeply personal issue. As a pastor, it can often feel like a lose-lose scenario. No matter where you land, what you say, or how you say it, someone is going to be hurt or angry. Personally, I don’t want to hurt people. Most of the time I don’t want to make people angry. And honestly, I don’t want people leaving the community I pastor. Like I said, mostly fear.
But can I tell you something? I have reached a point where I am more afraid of what might happen if we don’t speak up. I am afraid of what might happen if the only discernable “Christian” voices on the issue continue to be those that make for the best television: the loudest, the angriest and the most polarizing.