Leading Your Church In This Time of Sexual Questioning with Bruce Miller
Welcome to this week’s unSeminary podcast. Today I’m talking with Bruce Miller, senior pastor of Christ Fellowship in Texas.
Today we’ll be talking to Bruce about his book Leading a Church in a Time of Sexual Questioning.
- Reach out. // Bruce mentions that the idea for the book came from his encounters with people who felt rejected by the church and Christian people. The book encourages Christians to own up in their responsibility to reach out in ways they haven’t.
- Be full of both grace and truth. // It seems that most churches want to be either a church of grace or a church of truth. But Jesus came to earth full of grace and full of truth. Truth is gracious and grace speaks truth—grace and truth come together in love. Jesus hung out with “notorious sinners” and they were drawn to Him like a moth to flame. The body of Christ needs to more fully follow Jesus and His walk in His footsteps.
- Extend the welcome. // Jesus modeled that while we are to be full of both grace and truth, grace comes first in practical pastoral ministry to others. Most LGBTQ people believe that Christians hate them and some have been mistreated by Christians. It will be a surprise to them to be welcomed to a church. We have to extend the welcome to them much more strongly than with the average person.
- Go to greater lengths. // You can have a difference in your beliefs on certain things in life, but still come together to worship Jesus. Bruce shares a story of a lesbian couple who was interested in attending the church, and he offered an opportunity to meet with them and hear their stories in person. During that time Bruce explained what the church believed, but told the couple they were still welcome to come and be a part of the church, and they did. Talk with LGBTQ people to learn about their lives and their desire to connect with God rather than making a snap judgement towards them. It’s about building a relationship with people.
- Put love first. // If a leader in your church comes forward as part of an LGBTQ lifestyle, put love first and listen deeply to their story and what they have to say so that you know what you’re dealing with. The leaders of the church need to be in unity on what the church believes. If a leader changes their position and you are really on different pages, then it wouldn’t make sense for that person to stay in a leadership position at a church they don’t agree with.
- We are all sinners. // In his book, Bruce writes about practical steps in dealing with these situations. The big question to ask is how to treat LGBTQ people at your church. They are human beings created in the image of God and Bruce says that they should therefore be treated like other people. Are you going to add something different to situations in church if the person is LGBTQ? Will they not be baptized, even though Jesus went to sinners in all situations and baptized them? Or have they trusted in Jesus Christ and is that enough? Will there be double standards?
- Love doesn’t compromise truth. // When writing his book, Bruce was impressed to find that love doesn’t compromise truth. When you open your arms and welcome everyone, you still aren’t compromising theology, but you are showing Jesus’s love. Association doesn’t communicate affirmation. Jesus hung out with sinners throughout the New Testament. But associating with these sinners doesn’t mean that you approve and affirm their sins, as neither did Jesus.
- Provide more robust training. // In situations such as student ministry, there are additional layers of complexity when it comes to conversations about sex and sexuality. Bruce emphasizes the importance of doing more coaching with student lay leaders or those who might lead small groups. The issues are more difficult so take time to provide extra training. Additionally Christ Fellowship wants to create a climate where students can be open about their sexual struggles. Lastly be sure to inform the parents in advance so they know what’s coming when you plan to talk with students about sex, and invite them to be a part of it.
- Check your theology on sexuality and singleness. // Bruce notes that sometimes our message to those in the LGBTQ community who are trying to follow Jesus is because you have to be single and you can’t have sex, you’re going to have a rough life. That view betrays a terrible vision for people; firstly it is a terrible theology of singleness, and secondly it betrays an overblown view of sexuality as if sex is essential for a good life. Life without Jesus is a deficient life, but you can have a great life without sex.
You can learn more about Bruce and his book Leading a Church in the Time of Sexual Questioning at his website brucebmiller.com. You can learn more about Christian Fellowship at cfhome.org.
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