I love church. Church feels as much like home as my own kitchen. Sometimes it’s an absolute mess, but that usually means something fantastic is cooking!  As a young man who believed in Jesus and who was gay, I had two choices when it came to being a part of a church. I could either become not-gay (or by default stay hidden in a closet of shame and secrecy) or not go to church. Within the past few decades, LGBTQ people of faith have found a third option in open and affirming churches and I’m thankful. These 3 options have also played out when allies, friends, and family of LGBTQ people find themselves veering toward affirmation and inclusion.

Today, I find myself wondering if there is more. What if we as the Church, the body of Christ, his bride, could lovingly, thoughtfully, and graciously wrestle through these important realities together? What if LGBTQ people and our friends, family, and/or allies could “come out” authentically within the community of believers we call our local church? What if the desire for conversation, relationship, love, and the gospel trumped fear, accusation, whispering, and division? What if we chose to live in the tension for the sake of relationship and the gospel?

I don’t go to a perfect church, but it is my church. It’s a place where I have exposed my weaknesses, wept openly, argued passionately, used profanity in heated small meetings with other leaders, been loved through the worst of times, and supported when we didn’t know where or when the next paycheck would come. At our church we’ve been prayed for, cared for, and loved deeply. In turn, we’ve given to, prayed for, cared for, and loved others. We believe there is no more important truth to understand than to know how much our good Father loves us, to fully receive that love, and from there love him and others to the best of our ability.

This video is my most recent message at my church and shares much of the struggle I mentioned.  My hope is that it conveys how burdensome such tension can be—but how worth it living in the tension within ones community is.

I love both my church and the greater Church and I have tremendous hope that, as the Church, we are becoming all we were created to be. I love that my church is choosing love, relationship, and conversation for the sake of the Gospel and people. That’s real life. That’s maturity. That’s grace.

“Alan & Leslie Chambers Interview on Steve Brown, Etc.”
by Dr. Steve Brown w/ Alan & Leslie Chambers

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

 

DMy Exodus Book: From Fear to Gracer. Steve Brown, founder of Key Life Network, is a good friend who has stood with Leslie and me through the tests and trials we’ve walked through as leaders in the evangelical church. I am thankful for his wise counsel, encouragement, and friendship.

Leslie and I sat down with Steve and his cohosts, Zach Van Dyke, Justin Holcomb, and Erik Guzman last October to talk about our latest book, My Exodus: From FEAR to GRACE (Zondervan, 2015).

Click below to listen to the show. Please share your comments.

 

 

Easter and New Life!

WP Chain of Lakes CanalWelcome to spring, my friends. Living in Winter Park, Florida most often means the weather of spring isn’t so different than that of winter, nonetheless it is full of new sights, sounds, and fragrances. Spring is all about new life. I hope yours is full of just that.

Please CHECK OUT  the latest from Leslie and me:

Thanks so much for stopping by! Love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Or on social media:

The All New Muppet Show, One Million Moms, and Franklin Graham

Choosing discussion over battle is a good thing. Let's do better...

Thursday I began seeing Facebook friends post comments attributed to Franklin Graham about the all-new prime time Muppets Show on ABC. I was surprised….that there was a new Muppet Show not that frontline Christian culture warriors like Franklin Graham and the American Family Association might be against such a show.

I try my best not to react to Facebook posts or articles. I try, rather, to respond after I have all of the facts. From time to time I fail. People notice, challenge me, assert that I am no longer a follower of Jesus Christ, and call me to repentance. I don’t mind being challenged. I need to be challenged and respectfully called out when I make a mistake like overreacting to something or someone. I am a public figure and I should take that responsibility very seriously. I also must repent publicly when I have made a mistake publicly.

I do repent about my hasty decision to call out Franklin Graham for his comments about The Muppet Show before I actually watched the debut. Repent, translated from the Greek word Metanoia, means to change your mind. It didn’t take me very long to change my mind about the rashness of my post. I was wrong to criticize anyone without knowing the full story. I am sorry for doing so.

Yesterday morning I signed into my Hulu account and watched all 21 minutes of The Muppets, which according to the American Family Association’s One Million Moms is “perverted”. Franklin Graham said this:

Tonight ABC is premiering a new “mature version” of the Muppets that reports say will cover a range of topics from sex to drugs to “interspecies relationships” with no subject being off limits. It sounds to me like the whole show should be off limits! Hollywood seems to be in a frenzy to see what new moral low they can reach in their programming. Their agenda is to promote sin to a younger and younger audience. I applaud the group One Million Moms for speaking out against this and urging parents to call on ABC to take it off the air. The Bible says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” That goes for Kermit the Frog as well!

I was prepared to eat my words. I was hoping, however, to be pleasantly surprised by The Muppets and to be able to introduce the new show to my kids. I won’t be doing either.

Starting with the latter, I found the show boring and the humor stupid rather than clever. I know my kids and they wouldn’t like the show. I’m glad because I didn’t like it and in order for them to watch, knowing there are adult-themed topics, I would have to watch it with them. I’d rather watch something truly mindless with them or something about which we can have an intelligent conversation.

With regard to the accusation that the show is a Hollywood plot to promote sin, I understand why parents who grew up on the show might not let their young children watch this new version. There are adult themes my two 10-year olds wouldn’t get or understand and ones I am not ready for them to get yet, but hasn’t that always been an issue in the world in which we live? Don’t we all shelter our kids from certain realities until we are either ready for the long conversation or until we believe they can make sense of it all? But, I didn’t find it any more perverse than Family Feud.

I am grateful for movie reviews, some watch groups, and others who share information about all sorts of things in an effort to keep kids safe. I think we should err on the side of caution in a number of areas. Leslie and I don’t consider it a burden when the parent of one of our kids’ friends calls prior to a play date or sleep over and asks us how we handle TV, video games, and junk food. But I also think, especially as Christians, we should be far more gracious to others and less sensitive to the things going on in the world around us, with which we might have objection.

If you don’t want your kids to watch certain shows, or TV in general, or listen to certain types of music, or eat junk food then, by all means, impose the restriction. But know this, your friends and neighbors, and very likely the person seated next to you in the pew on Sunday morning, isn’t necessarily going to agree with you or appreciate when you call their favorite show, band, or food evil. Doing so might insight hostility rather than encourage a discussion.

And, in my opinion, I’ll choose the discussion over the battle every time. My uninformed overreaction to Franklin Graham isn’t cause to question whether I follow Jesus Christ. Franklin Graham’s fear-based overreaction, in my opinion, to The Muppets doesn’t justify my screaming (because it was in all caps), “Dear Franklin Graham: PLEASE. RETIRE.”, on Facebook.

We can all do better. I’m game. You?

My Washington Post OpEd on Gay Marriage

I once led an ex-gay ministry. Here’s why I now support people in gay marriages.

Last week I had the privilege of writing an opinion piece for the The Washington Post in light of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage. Here are the ending paragraphs from the article:

My prayers going forward will be for those who fear the results of the decision that was made today. Those who feel like they have lost their country and like evil is prevailing. As one who once felt that way I believe I can pray for them with great understanding and empathy. My prayer won’t be for them to change their mind on anything gay. My prayer will be for them to repent of fear.

Perfect love casts out all fear. Love never fails. I hope the 60 percent of Americans who won today will remember the 40 percent who feel as though they lost. This is truly an opportunity for the majority to do unto others better than they were once done unto. I believe this can happen because what I have found as a former conservative religious leader amongst the people I once opposed is love, acceptance, affirmation and friendship.

It’s time to end the war. It’s time for peace and rest. For Christians, I believe the Gospel demands it. There’s never been a better day for it than today.

Click here to read the full article. I look forward to your comments.

Alan Chambers: President Obama is right to try to end Reparative Therapy for minors (RNS COMMENTARY)

Religion_News_Service_-_Coverage_of_religion__ethics_and_spirituality_from_around_the_globeToday Religion News Service asked me to weigh in on Reparative Therapy for minors. It is titled, “Alan Chambers: President Obama is right to try to end ex-gay therapy (COMMENTARY).” From the article:

I got married in 1998, and for more than 17 years have found it easy to be faithful to my wife. I am more in love with her today than ever before and enjoy every part of our amazing marriage. But it took me 20 years, 12 of which I served as the president of Exodus International — the world’s largest so-called ex-gay ministry — to realize my story is just that: my story.

While I am thankful for the ministry I went to for support — there was no other place for gay Christians to go in 1991 to admit the truth — I am sorry that they and I prescribed a one-size-fits-all story for every gay and lesbian person. I’m sorry we preached an incomplete gospel and wrongly told LGBTQ people they could and should do more to be acceptable to God. Doing so was deeply hurtful and damaging to many who never experienced the kind of change we thought possible.

For too long, same-sex attraction has been categorized as sinful and in need of repairing. Such stigma has caused LGBTQ people crippling shame and fear. As a child I experienced and as an adult I perpetuated that stigma. I profoundly regret my support for and promotion of reparative therapy.

And that’s why I stand with President Obama in calling for a ban on this practice for minors and for greater measures to protect adults seeking this niche therapeutic intervention.

Click here to read the full article which shares about my journey and explains more of my reasoning behind my agreement with President Obama.

UPDATE: Speak. Love., The Chambers, and ZONDERVAN!

Today we are consolidating Speak. Love. into AlanChambers.org. In June 2013 when we closed Exodus International and embarked on this new season we decided to continue doing what we knew well, which was run an organization. However, about a month into the process someone asked me rather pointedly, “So, Alan, what’s your hiring policy going to be for Speak. Love.?” It was then I realized I didn’t want another organization, policies, procedures, or anything similar to what we had just left behind. Leslie and I wanted to be free to work and partner with whomever we chose regardless of sexual orientation, label, religion or lack there of.

Speak. Love. has been a great platform for discussions and bridge building. The many good goals, clear message, and original intent are being best expressed through Leslie’s and my speaking, consulting, and writing. It just makes sense from a stewardship angle to consolidate these online resources. Will the future hold a separate non-profit? Maybe. I haven’t yet perfected fortune telling. What I do know is the God given mission and vision of Speak. Love. is being lived out every day in Leslie and me as a team and will find a great online home here at AlanChambers.Org.

Please stay engaged as we ramp up our posts. The last year has been tremendously relaxing and purposeful for Leslie and me. One of our greatest accomplishments was writing our first book together. In July after many months of talking with publishers and deliberation we signed with Zondervan a division of Harper Collins. Our book, My Exodus: Leaving the Slavery of Religion, Loving the Image of God in Everyone is due out August 25, 2015.

Please stay in touch with us here at AlanChambers.org or via these social media platforms:

www.facebook.com/AlanManningChambers

www.twitter.com/AlanMChambers or www.twitter.com/LeslieMChambers

www.instagram.com/AlanMChambers

www.pinterest.com/ChambersAlanM

For those who want to give towards the work of reconciliation we are doing, you may do so by clicking the donate button near the bottom of the sidebar.

I am excited and honored to participate in this event. From the All Nations Gathering: Pastor’s Day “Reconciliation Talks” event page:

You are cordially invited to the Pastor’s Day “Reconciliation Talks” hosted by Sandra Turnbull, David VanCronkhite, Keith Page, and Ed Salas. The seminar is designed to provide opportunities to build relationships with other Pastors and Church Leaders, and provide a platform for sharing on issues regarding faith and sexuality.

This year we are delighted to have special speakers, Danny Cortez, Alan Chambers, and Rev. Dr. Ken Fong. Come hear inspiring stories and meet new friends who have a heart for reconciliation.

The “Reconciliation Talks” seminar will take place from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. There will be a dinner break following the seminar for everyone to enjoy dinner across the street at “Fronk’s” before reconvening for the 7:00 pm Communion Service with special speaker, Pastor Danny Cortez.

The “Pastor’s Day” is a Pre-Conference Event that precedes the All Nations Gathering 2014 Conference the weekend of October 9th – 12th. You are also cordially invited to attend the All Nations Gathering 2014 Conference and can register for this event by clicking here.

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Date: October 9, 2014
Time: 09:30 a.m. - 08:30 p.m. PDT
Event: All Nations Gathering: Pastor's Day "Reconciliation Talks"
Sponsor: Glory Tabernacle Christian Center
562-920-1845
Venue: Glory Tabernacle Christian Center - Bellflower
562-920-1845
Location: 9812 Walnut Street
Bellflower, CA 90706
United States
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Towards Peace & Conversation

 

The world is fraught with bad news. It has been since the beginning and will be until the end. Ironically, after however many thousands or millions of years (depending on your theology, or lack thereof) humans are still surprised wars continue to happen, that people die, and senselessly bad things happen to really good people. We don’t expect this reality. Maybe because God didn’t create the world or its inhabitants to experience the decay that has been unstoppable since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. Our expectations match what was to be our original perfect reality and not what became our actual reality post fall.

Andy Crouch, prolific author, speaker, and Executive Editor of Christianity Today, says it like this,

“We live in a bad news to bad news reality in the church. We start in Genesis 3 (the fall) and end with Revelations 20 (the lake of fire).”

Andy’s point is that even the Church, the entity Pastor Bill Hybels calls the hope of the world, has succumbed to this grim, joyless, and visionless existence. As Believers we live like the rest of humanity, in shame and defeat, with a poor image of God the Father, Redeemer, Creator, Author, and Finisher. And, we become a poor reflection of Him.

#Grace #Church

Leslie and I were in church yesterday morning for the first time in 3 weeks.  The last two Sundays we played hooky.  The first week we celebrated a birthday.  Last week, Leslie’s mom kept the kids for the whole weekend and, well, we savored every moment of our much-needed time off by doing very little.

But, because our church is such an amazing place we simply cannot stand to stay away for long.  We love it.  Every part.  We love our pastor and his wife.  We love the other pastors, staff, and their families.  We love our Life Group. We love the people—the ones we know well and the ones we don’t.  We love the music. We love the teaching. We love Grace Church. It’s home. It’s family.