Yesterday a local online news/culture magazine posted an article that included Oak Life Church. A church getting some press isn’t really that abnormal, but what’s different about this article is the context. Oak Life Church was included in a list of queer welcoming spaces. Most of the other mentions are clubs and non-profits, and definitely not churches. Definitely not.
This is kind of a collision of worlds in the most odd way. We don’t fit on that list, but there we are below and above two queer dance parties- right there where Jesus is.
Churches are usually known for being the opposite of inclusive towards the LGBTQ community and most of my friends in that community have experienced this at some point in their life. There is no way around it, our mention in this article is just odd, Oak Life Church is obviously out of place, and for that I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m grateful because I know the pain the church has caused the LGBT community and as a representative of the church, I’m deeply sorry. That’s now how God is and I’m so encouraged that a culture is being created at Oak Life Church where everyone is invited to the feast – that God invites us all to the table without asking us to clean up our mess first. Everyone is welcome. Yeah you heard me, everyone.
Our journey as a church plant, trying to follow Christ and not get in his way, has been an incredible ride, especially in this area. For almost two years we worked with a church planting network that affirmed our calling to plant a church and encouraged us every step of the way. That is until we raised questions about the some of the ways churches tend to interpret scripture regarding homosexuality, and challenged how those interpretations affect the way we love people who identify as LGBTQ. We didn’t say we’d perform same sex marriages but we didn’t say we wouldn’t. What we said was- we’ve got questions about this subject that Jesus himself never talked about. Questions, that’s all we had, but it was enough to loose funding and be rejected by this network. Luckily it wasn’t a ton of money, but as a church plant we don’t have much.
Just thinking about this breaks my heart because it strengthens the perception my LGBTQ friends have regarding how Christians view them. That all we see is this thing that get’s interpreted as inherently sinful. Again, I’m deeply sorry and sad about this.
As I read the scriptures and wrestle with loving people it tends to raise more questions than answers. And on this subject, with all that’s at stake, we need the grace and love of God to guide us. To my queer friends, I love you and you are accepted at Oak Life Church. We’re a bunch of messy people trying to walk with God. I’m sorry for the way Christians have treated you. I ask your forgiveness. Somewhere along the line we confused our mandate to love people and introduce them to the good news that God rescues us all with a system of sin management and behavior modification. In the process we’ve hurt lots of people. That’s not on God, that’s on us.
Hear me on this- you are welcome, you are loved, and you are accepted. God loves you and it’s because of this deep conviction that I’m so grateful for Oak Life to be known as an inclusive community. And just so you know, I love dancing and would be stoked cut a rug with you anytime.