This was an unusually intense weekend. Here’s a few factors that made is so:
• I knew a sermon on gay marriage in itself was dicey.
• We have a good number of gay people at Journey. I don’t know how many. They are in varying places in terms of their homosexuality – from fully repentant & celibate, to not yet aware of what God’s perspective, to all points in between. We call ourselves a “come as you are church” – this in an integral part of who we are as a church. We mean it from the core of our being… and people take us up on that. Our people invite as if that was true.
• We are not planning to dive into the political fray that many churches in our area are diving into & there is lots of pressure to do so. I knew that some people would be disappointed that we aren’t.
• I deeply care about being faithful to the scripture and speak with sensitivity. I know how easy it is to hurt people with a sermon. You better be sure you are “speaking as it were the utterance of God” (1 Peter 4:12).
• We on our pastoral team had a lot of conversation on this message. Before I ever preached it I was getting all kinds of input – emails, comments, calls, from all sides.
I won’t reproach the message in this post, but I feel like God helped us. I’m going to expand on the issue itself in another post, but here’s some cool highlights:
√ I asked people to fast & pray specifically about this weekend’s message on Wednesday. Lots & lots did & I could really sense the prayer support. So many people came to me this weekend, many in tears… no kidding… saying they had been praying earnestly all week. It was like we did it as a team.
√ We prayed that God’s grace would be unusually present – it was.
√ This weekend was a great opportunity to VISION CAST & talk about our purpose – to reach as many people as possible with the Good News of Jesus Christ before He returns.
√ The response was overwhelmingly positive.
√ I think Christ followers are hungry for a new way to talk about this issue with unchurched friends. I felt like this was a critical component of this weekend message.
√ We held an EXTENDED CHAT ROOM on Sunday night. I wanted to allow people to ask questions, disagree, push back – in short I wanted to answer the 100+ emails in one shot. It really was a great time. I had people write down questions & answered pretty much all of them.
√ I want to publicly thank all those who inputted into me the last couple of weeks: Daniel Benitez (immeasurable help & primary architect of the “statement”), all the other pastors esp. J, Kevin Simpson for the essay – and lots of people who sent thoughtful emails. I’d like to thank 2 authors that were especially helpful to me: Greg Boyd with his book The Myth of a Christian Nation and Richard Hays with his The Moral Vision of the New Testament.
This was one of those weekends that I felt spent when it was over. I’m grateful for a restorative day of surfing today – 70-degree water, mellow waves, lots of fun rides, no conversation more substantive than – “nice wave”.