Speaking takes me far from the Rain

Speaking takes me far from the Rain September 14, 2008

Like most places in the country it has been pouring rain here in Chicago for the last three days. I’ve tried to stay inside as much as I can and the good news is that I’ve actually gotten quite a bit of work done this weekend. I try very hard to take my ‘Sabbath’ every week but since my wife is in Atlanta for work I’m able to take this time to get a few more things done. That’s actually a good thing right about now because I have quite the week ahead of me in sunny Los Angeles from Tues-Friday.

I have a great group of friends and collegues in Southern California who just flat out want to do some great stuff. I love them to death and over the past three years I have been privledged to be a part of their lives and work. Since the gay marriage topic is first and foremost on many people’s minds in Cali (I’ll save that topic for another post), so then is the broader topic of homosexuality. And many in the Christian community don’t know what to do! But don’t fool yourself, because many in the gay community as well are very comfortable staying put on their own turf. If there’s one thing, among others, that I feel the Lord has put me here to do it’s to blow-up many traditional comfort zones regarding these two communities.

So me and my friends John Lewis (http://www.uywi.org/), Dr. Becky Kuhn (http://www.globallifeworks.org/), Eric Leocadio (http://www.ourcatalystcommunity.org/), Brad Fieldhouse (http://www.kingdomcauses.org/) and Dave Gibbons (one of Christianity Today’s Top Evangelicals under the age of 40 http://www.newsong.net/about/press/christianityToday_11-11-96.php) got together and started what we call, The Coalition – a group of bridge builders committed to seeing the broader Church engage in a productive and safe dialogue regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals within our community.

Our hope is to build a bridge between the conservative and inclusive churches, find common ground, and create a space of conversation that helps us to share Christ’s light and love for all people. It is our goal to elevate the conversation beyond the politics of our differences and into a place of common grace towards one another. The key is doing significant things for the Kingdom while still recognizing a difference in some theological belief. As we are all children of God, it’s time to start acting like it.

It’s going to be a three series event spanning the next three months to start off a new bridge building life for many in Southern California. This first event is a Pastor’s Roundtable for Conservative Christian pastors to be held by Newsong Church in Irvine, CA. We have about 50 pastors and churches involved (from both the conservative and gay sides!) right now, and it’s just a start to see what the Lord will be doing!

If you want to bring this to your city, just give me a holler and let’s start to truly make a systemic difference between the gay and conservative Christian communities. I had a meeting with some heavy hitters at Willow Creek the other day and, this might be cheesy but I don’t know of any other way to communicate what I want to say, so I’m just going to quote myself talking to them:

“At 24 years old when I started The Marin Foundation I would talk to people like yourself and speak of a vision, a dream; something the Lord birthed inside my Spirit that a larger, structural, systemic bridge can be build between the gay and evangelical communities. I got laughed out of churches, organizations, busnisses, everything – because no one thought it could ever happen. And who’s going to believe a 24 year old with nothing but a crazy idea? But three years later I can sit here and look at each of you in the eye and honestly say, it’s happening. And it’s happening all over the country. What no one thought possible the Lord deemed worthy and has risen many up to accomplish His vision. Believe with me and let’s do something impossible!”

And that is how I feel about The Coalition. It’s happening, and with the Lord on our side we can, and will see this dream come true. There’s no doubt about it!

Much love.

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  • Eric

    I know what you mean, bud! Back in the early Kingdom Causes days when Brad and I would talk about “the issue” and “the Church”, I called this “The Hot Zone”. Over at Two World Collision, I define that as that place where the conversation about homosexuality and faith and God are no longer the “unspeakable topic”.

    hehe, sometimes we dive right in!

    It’s amazing to see it happening – those in the Church entering the Hot Zone – because we know that we can each meet God there to talk about the things no one else wants to talk about.

    Hey by the way! For all those times you had me at Giordano’s for pizza when I came to Chicago, I’ve gotta have you check out Domenico’s Pizza here in Long Beach. w00t!

    See you on Tuesday!

  • Jeff S.

    Some exciting things are happening. It brings tears to my eyes because I was in a very lonely place for years with no one to speak to openly in the church on this issue. The church needs to change and I am beginning to see it happen slowly. Prayers continue for your efforts and this new coalition.

  • Born Again Heathen

    So what was the response from the Willow Creekers?

  • Andrew Marin

    They seemingly had a very positive response and we’ll see what happens in the future! Nothing ever happens the day of with churches in general, and as the old cliche goes: only time will tell. And such is the case with this as well. 🙂 Keeping the faith…

  • J-Lou

    i am very excited about being apart of the coalition and looking forward to our three events and what it will spur here in the socal area.

  • Dr. Jim

    Well said Andrew.

  • RikFleming

    If we call ourselves "Christian" let us not confuse "common ground" with a false notion of "neutral ground."All ground is God's ground. "The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it." (Psalm 24:1)The LORD made the earth and all that dwells on it. The unbeliever stands on God's ground, eats God's food, benefits from God's rain but he does not give Him the glory but rather suppresses the truth in unrighteousness and worships the created rather than the Creator.The idea of "neutral ground" – that we can come to a common table with the world where there is no absolute truth and all have an equal voice – is antithetical to the Biblical worldview.Having said that, it is time for the church to not think of homosexuals as "them" but rather as "one of us" in that we too are sinners. The only distinction is that we have been given the grace to have faith in Jesus Christ.Left to my own, I have more in common with the harlot and the thief on the cross than I do with Jesus Christ.

  • Eric

    rikfleming – I wasn't exactly sure what you were saying about "common ground" and "neutral ground". You talk about neutral ground as if that's what the Coalition is talking about. If that's what you're suggesting, I think you missed the point.In fact, the Coalition IS talking about Common Ground – God's ground. Whether this issue, or so many other issues, the Church can disagree with just about anything from baptism to administration of sacraments to the role of women in ministry to the proper attire that should be worn during services to the day on which to worship. However, with all the disagreements that the Church can possibly have with itself, the one Common Ground that we have IS Christ – that we each acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins, and further, all those who believe in His name have the right to become children of God.So no one in the Coalition is talking about a neutral ground coming to a common table where there is no absolute truth and everyone has an equal voice. I wanted to clarify that because it seems you could be making assumptions about what the Coalition is trying to do even though it's not correct.So yes, as Christians, the Coalition is talking about a common ground not neutral ground.Further, I think another assumption you're making is that the gay person = "unbeliever".If you really are prepared to shift your paradigm from an "us vs. them" thinking in regards to gay people, and even consider gay people as "one of us" in that we are all sinners, are you also prepared to accept the fact that there are "gay Christians" within the gay community just as there are "straight Christians" within the straight community – of course, given the fact that we are all sinners.Or would you be suggesting that heterosexuality be inserted into the salvation equation? Personally, I believe that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And that sincere belief gives me the right to be called a child of God whether I'm straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered, divorced, fat, black, white, latino, asian, male, female, young, old, slave or free.That's our common ground despite our differences in interpretation about anything and despite the sins we've committed in our lives.Jesus is where we start the conversation in "The Hot Zone".Gay people believe in absolute Truth too.