In my opinion, as leaders, we need to be proactive in addressing these issues. Unfortunately, many times we tend to just let them come to us rather than proactively leading our people and equipping them to navigate conversations like:
- same-sex attraction/partnership
- gay marriage
- legalization of marijuana
Then there are some other topics that we tend to just let go unaddressed in the church context like:
- the role of women in the church
- specific (defers from context to context) spiritual gifts
- navigating the church and state boundaries
These are all issues that are too often left unaddressed, and therefore, they become “unspoken truths” that leave people to drown in their own assumptions. This creates confusion. We tend to think that people will be able to navigate these issues on their own and clearly understand our position as a local church. Both assumptions are wrong. And, it’s my firm belief that we must proactively shepherd people in areas such as these.
So, here are 3 general guidelines for being a proactive leader in these areas:
- Provide Clarity. Clearly state your position AND the underlying convictions that drive your conclusions. Articulating the underlying convictions you have (such as scripture being our standard) are critical for these conversations.
- Provide Framework. Clearly lay out the expectations you have for people as they dialogue about these types of things. I recently did a forum for our church on the LGBT conversation. One of the things I set up as a framework is the following statement: “Humility and love, not shame, is our mutual aspiration.” These types of things set a tone for dialogue and are necessary to “posture” our people to be able to handle these conversations in God-honoring ways.
- Provide Freedom. People need to be given freedom to discuss topics like this in our churches. Everyone gets super tense when these types of topics come up in conversation and much of this is due to our lack of articulating the freedom they have to do so.
I pray we can all be proactive leaders.