Part 1 – “who put YOU in charge?”

In light of the last few posts and the string of passionate comments in those posts, I want to talk about a question I get asked a lot:

“Who put YOU in charge?”

Sometimes I get that in a completely sarcastic tone, sometimes an angry tone, sometimes it’s just a genuine query. I’ve never really thought about the answer before, until now, as it seems like the right time I should talk about it (and why it keeps coming up).

1. I had no intent to be “in charge” of this national dialogue. It all started in the summer of the year 2000 when my three best friends all came out to me in three consecutive months. Then I immersed myself (with no plans of it being my life’s work), but saw for the first time the pain and separation and furtherance from God that people like me had caused the GLBT community. Then on July 1, 2005 the IRS officially recognized The Marin Foundation as a non-profit organization—of which my goal was to show love to, and bridge the culture war within the 15 blocks that consist of my neighborhood, Boystown. That’s it. 15 blocks. I had no plans/expectations/goals for this to ever be a national organization, or myself a national “leader.” I was just concerned with my neighborhood, my 15 blocks.

Then over a two year period The Marin Foundation started to get local media attention (that I never sought out) because of my life’s ‘hook’: no one had ever heard of such a thing—a straight, conservative, evangelical male moving into the gay neighborhood and having and organization working to end the culture war. From that local media (a cover story on a local newspaper), the secular national media then picked up on it. From that secular national media attention, the Christian media then got a hold of it. The next thing you know it’s all over and I’m getting asked to speak around the country to teach others how to live out my unique balance in their own local communities (in both the GLBT and conservative Christian worlds). Shortly after, I’m getting approached by three publishers to write a book about my unique experiences. And here we are today. I don’t have all the answers. Never will. But I am willing to learn how to live, love and peacefully disagree to advance the dialogue publicly, so that all of us can do this thing together. This is not about me; it’s about what you do with these conversations in your own life and sphere of influence from here on out.

2. No one put me in charge. There wasn’t one moment when any “gatekeeper” put me in charge. In fact, truth be told, many of the so-called gatekeepers distance themselves from me because, 1) they don’t know what to do with me, or b) don’t want to touch this topic in a non-traditional fashion with a ten foot pole. (At this moment I have to give mad props to all for the GLBT and Christian churches/organizations/universities who have had the guts to put me on their main stage). This whole thing has been the direct result of me saying “yes” to every single opportunity that presents itself to me over the past 4 years. I’ve never turned one down (unless something was already booked for that day(s)). The way I see it, if a church/organization/university are wanting, and willing, to talk about this and go so far as to invite me to help them process everything, then yes, I’m totally there! This bridge building work is a movement. It’s not been given the once-and-for-all stamp of approval by hardly any “big-namer”, but it’s a ton of individuals around the country hungry to learn how to live and love (from both communities) in our postmodern culture that ‘accepts’ quicker than many of us can even think about cognitively understanding.

Part 2 comes tomorrow…

Much love.

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  • John Contabile

    That’s a funny question, isn’t it? “Who put you in charge?”…implying that it takes an official type of person to lead the way. But even funnier is that it doesn’t take someone “in charge” to effect change.

    Andrew, thanks for saying yes to the opportunities…thanks for showing us that this can be done by any one of us if we are willing, thanks for keeping it real.

    Blessings and strength to you…and to all of us who take a stand in Jesus’ name.


  • Andy – it’s good to read the history again of how all this came about. Itreally comes down to listening to the still, small voice of God and following His direction in your life. In a different way I am supporting and encouraging guys who struggle with homosexuality in relation to their Christian faith as a result of reading another book, “Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would” about three years ago, then starting my blog in January, 2007, just to process some of the stuff I was dealing with, then gradually built up a community of Christian brothers dealing with the same issues related to homosexuality, and over time grew into the desire to bridge the gap of building relationship with guys who decided to follow different paths than I did. I could either disregard their lives or “defriend” them, or I could continue to engage in dialogue and relationship, listen and learn, love and respect, and do my own little part of cool the culture wars. Your book has taken all this to new levels, and though none of us have all the answers all the time, I feel that I have been stretched as a Christian in ways I never anticipated. And now being one of the group admins of our Facebook group for 200+ guys who struggle to reconcile their faith and their sexual oreintation and determine how best to live their lives, well, it’s a humbling task and one that I didn’t know I was signing up for when I read that book three years ago or started my blog. The Lord leads each of us if we are willing to be used. I praise God that you made yourself open to His leading through the impact of your three friends.

  • Mrs T

    Of course you didn’t put yourself in charge – there was such a great need & you filled the vacuum.
    I think we all have areas of burden that we should be involved in. I have had a few & have had minimal results. When I had babies, I was trying to convince moms to nurse their babies, but outside of La Leche Leage have only convinced a handful, if that many. I am one of a small minority that uses the blood type diet, but I ain’t quitting! It can be frustrating seeing an answer to health & so few trying it!
    Now I also join as being a fan of Andrew & carefully ‘talking up’ what he is doing. Some may listen, some are skittish, & some are too busy with their own projects. But still, the need is so great that I will still try to promote his ideas (& correct misconceptions).
    So, it looks like there was such a vacuum in this area & God, in His own way & time has called Andrew & hopefully many others to do something!!
    They say that a person shouldn’t seek to be president, but that it is thrust upon him(her!). It is the same with ministry. Folks don’t go into it to make a name for thenmselves. They go because it is God’s calling & there is a need! Andrew is very friendly & personable, but he is not some big egotist. He is a person busy doing something that should have been done long ago & there is sooooo much to do & no time to waste!

  • Melanie Johnson

    Andrew I’m sorry that so many people have made you feel the need to defend yourself or explain why you do what you do. People who ask this question of others are insecure about something. Did people ask this of other cultural and spiritual pioneers in our history? Possibly, but they never let it stop them. Keep up the AMAZING work and let us remember that ultimately God is the ONE who is charge. 🙂

  • Seth

    Jesus taught that leadership is primarily servanthood, and you are an example of that by your exhaustive, obedient service to your call!