Growing as a Biblically Inclusive Church

Andy Robinson 1 year ago
Blog 2 mins
Found in: Church

Life as Living Out’s Training Director can be an interesting experience. I often joke to friends that I spend two days a week touring the country telling random strangers all about my deepest darkest secrets. But despite the oddity of it, I’ve found the role to be a great encouragement. As I talk to different churches or Christian groups, invariably I discover a desire to be faithful to Jesus’ teaching and to create church families that are loving places for those who are same-sex attracted. I also find that churches tend to recognise that this is an area in which they need to grow. That’s a great thing to see – and it is why I have grown to appreciate the Living Out Church Audit.

It is now the resource I use most often when speaking on church culture and it is also profoundly helpful on questions beyond sexuality.

When I joined the Living Out team, the Church Audit was already part of the furniture. It is a ten-point checklist helping churches to assess how they are doing in welcoming those who are same-sex attracted. Now, I am sufficiently proud that I hate using resources that I haven’t written, so I tended to mention it very briefly in passing in my early talks (‘There’s an audit on our website, apparently, for those who like that sort of thing.’) But I’ve grown to appreciate that all the key issues are found there – how to avoid singling out those who are same-sex attracted as a special group, speaking into questions of identity, valuing singleness and being a genuine church family – all emerging from principles in the Bible. It is now the resource I use most often when speaking on church culture and it is also profoundly helpful on questions beyond sexuality.

But on its own it is a bit of a bare document. We might agree that singleness and marriage should be equally valued, but how do you do that in reality? What does developing an identity founded on our union with Christ look like? And what does it mean for church family members to share life together?

That’s why we have recorded a series of podcasts on the audit. The four of us who contribute to the podcasts have all been involved in church leadership and all experience same-sex attraction. Here are some of the specifics we cover:

  • Why gender stereotypes are a massive hindrance for some Christians ­– this was a massive eye-opener for me (episode 1).
  • How you teach into the area of sexuality, including a mantra that can be helpful (episode 2).
  • The topic of identity and how to help church members find one that is stable and satisfying (episode 3).
  • Discipleship for those who are same-sex attracted, touching on how to handle things when they go wrong (episode 4).
  • How to value those who are single, and how to make church family more than a label (episode 5).
  • How a church leader who is not same-sex attracted can lead the church on issues of sexuality (episode 6).

It is exciting to see churches that want to be good places for those who are same-sex attracted. We really hope that the audit and accompanying podcast series will help.