Vague Pastors

book

Last week, Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong NYC made his rounds on CNN and Huffington Post. The interviews were fascinating to watch and see what God is doing through Lentz and Hillsong.

In those interviews, gay marriage came up as it always does if you are a pastor.

His answers were an attempt at a non-answer. He said in a sermon, “Some churches want us to give blanket answers on huge issues. Well, my Bible says, be attentive to individual needs. So I’m not gonna make polarizing political statements about certain things in our Christian community right now. No matter who says what, we won’t be pressured into giving blanket statements to individual needs. Never.”

He has also said he won’t “Preach on homosexuality.” But that is misleading.

When you don’t preach on something, you are preaching on that thing. You are just saying what you think won’t be as controversial or the thing that won’t lose you your following.

He says that “Hillsong has a stance on love, but has conversations on everything else.” On the surface, this sounds nice.

But he is falling into the trap so many pastors and leaders fall into: being vague.

The problem is this, homosexuality is talked about in the bible. Not as much as some Christians make it out to be. It is listed with other things for example in 1 Corinthians. The amount of sermons and blog posts on gay marriage dwarfs the amount of sermons and blog posts on adultery, stealing, greed (except at Christmas time), getting drunk, revilers, or swindlers.

Let’s take another example from 1 Corinthians 6. It talks about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit and  yet, there are a lot of Christians who are unhealthy and destroying their bodies because of what they eat and drink. Every time there is a potluck at a church, there is a good chance we just sinned according to 1 Corinthians 6. Not always, but most of the time.

There is a clear problem when a pastor is vague and it is this: The problem with not preaching on things in the Bible is that Christians and non-Christians then don’t know what is in the Bible. They don’t know what they believe about something. They don’t know what God thinks about something. A Christian can’t have a conversation with a non-Christian about an issue if they aren’t taught. In the same way, a non-Christian can’t be confronted by truth if they don’t hear it.

This is one reason I think it is important to preach through books of the Bible. It keeps pastors from preaching on their soap box issues (and only talking about their soapbox issues), but it also allows pastors to not skip things. When you say, “I won’t preach on _____” you’ve just said I will skip passages in the Bible when I get to them because I don’t want to talk about them.

That is a low view of the Bible. God inspired those words for a reason.

What do you think? Should a pastor say they won’t speak on a certain topic? Is that ever an appropriate step?

[Image]

My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

Leadership Lessons: World Vision & Same Sex Marriage

book

Yesterday, my twitter feed consisted of people reacting to the news that World Vision changed its policy and World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

The reaction, as you would expect, was swift, vicious and all over the map.

Some tweeted about how World Vision has gone off the deep end, how they were ruining their Christian witness and going against the Bible. Others applauded the move and bashed Christians who would stop supporting children with World Vision, because “it’s wrong to say you’re okay with a child going hungry instead of a gay person having a job. That’s hate.”

The whole time I just sat there shaking my head.

In watching this unfold in the last 24 hours, reading several blogs on both sides (that were sometimes helpful and sometimes hurtful), I wanted to share some thoughts for leaders:

  1. Same sex marriage is the issue. Same sex marriage is not going away, no matter what any conservatives hope. It is here to stay. We need to learn how we will live in a culture that is okay with it and encourages it. We need to speak the gospel truth to it, love those struggling with same sex attraction, walk with those who are in relationships, be their friends (as we would a heterosexual couple living together before marriage) and share the truth and beauty of Jesus with them. Almost every person I meet who finds out I’m a Christian or a pastor asks me what I think about same sex marriage. This is the issue. A follower of Jesus needs to learn how to talk about it in a loving, gospel centered way and point to the truth so that the person listening will want to continue talking about it.
  2. Taking a stand, is a stand. I’m surprised by the number of people who seem surprised by the outrage. World Vision said “they are making a narrow policy change.” And that it “is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S. based on this single issue, and nothing more. . . . This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. . . . We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. . . . This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues.” I understand it. The reality is, any stand is a stand. Any decision, even a non-decision of silence, is a decision. By allowing this and not allowing employees to commit adultery, theft, fornication outside of marriage and other things labeled as sins in the Bible, you are saying one is okay and one is not.
  3. Christians need to stand up for other issues as well. I believe the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman. I’ve also done a lot of reading recently on this issue because in the fall we’re doing a series at Revolution called Why I’m Not a Christian on some of the main things people have against Christianity and one of the weeks will be on “Christians are homophobic.” When homosexuality is talked about in the New Testament, it is often listed with other sins such as sexual immortality, idolaters, adulterers, stealing, and swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Let’s be against those things as well. It makes no sense how Christians seem to not bat an eye at a heterosexual couple living together before marriage or having sex, or a man cheating his employer by watching March Madness at work instead of working (that’s stealing). Let’s be careful and not just be one issue. Let’s talk about them all.

Should a Christian support world vision? That’s up to you. Christians buy and support organizations all the time that hold to different values and beliefs than they do. They buy food from people in same sex relationships. I realize that Christians say it is different when it is a faith-based organization like World Vision and I understand that and can agree with that. At the end of the day, World Vision is not the only organization that does what it does, so if this is a make or break it issue for you, then support children through another organization. If you stop working with World Vision, tell them in a kind, loving way. Don’t send a mean spirited email with a long list of Bible verses. If you disagree with their decision but choose to continue working with World Vision, tell them that as well.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta