• Caleb Kaltenbach

25 Questions About LGBTQ & Church

Actually, I have more like 150+ questions in a notebook and even more in my head. You might ask, "Why do you think about such questions?"


I've participated in churches of all sizes (as an associate pastor & senior pastor), served on a couple of church plant management teams, taught adjunctly, and even been on a Christian college board of trustees. A little over 3 years ago, I decided to combine my ministry experience and love for LGBTQ individuals by starting a ministry organization called The Messy Grace Group. I help churches develop systems and processes that honor their beliefs and create room for LGBTQ people to attend... because everyone finds and follows Jesus better in community, not in isolation. When I say "everyone" I mean everyone: heterosexual, lesbians, folks from Ohio, Nickelback groupies, NYU grads, homeless people, suburban residents, Steven Seagal enthusiasts, single-parent families, Disney freaks, non-binary individuals, Bob Jones University dropouts, The Last Jedi fans, etc. I also work with Christian colleges, seminaries, Christian schools, and parachurch ministries.

Releasing Summer 2021

Some examples of how I've helped churches in regards to LGBTQ include: resolving conflict, developing assimilation strategies, guiding church staff, speaking on grace & truth, engaging staff disagreements & conflict, leading staff/leader meetings, coaching leaders, writing doctrinal positions, assisting elders/board members in policy development, running small group leader & family ministry volunteer trainings, giving parent-talks, conducting Q/A sessions, walking alongside student ministry teams as they minister to LGBTQ youth, creating serving opportunities & boundaries, having difficult conversations, developing specific organizational communication, etc. So far, I've worked with 70+ churches (church plant to mega), 8 college/seminaries, 4 Christian schools, and 10 parachurch ministries. An unneeded and painful gap has been forged between some theologically conservative churches and LGBTQ people. But it doesn't have to be that way...


When I work with churches and ministries, I regularly run into circumstances, ideas, opinions, and even relationships that I didn't expect. For instance, what do you do when a married lesbian couple shifts to a belief that God created sex to be expressed between a man and a woman? Now, what do you do in this same circumstance if they have kids? What if they believe they should divorce but one of the ladies is afraid of losing her health insurance and not having her medication? How should youth pastors respond if a non-Christian transgender boy starts attending their student ministry and wants to join a 9th-grade boys small group? Should you assume the worst if a staff member seems unsure of what they believe about sexuality? How might you go about having such a discussion? I know that some may read these examples and believe the answers to be obvious. The solutions are anything but simple (or at least the road to the solution is complex).


Over the last several years I've developed a new appreciation for questions. I try to read or listen to anything I can on how to ask a really good question. I'm not the best "asker of questions" but I'm continually trying to improve. If you haven't already, consider fostering a passion for asking questions because it's biblical! Jesus asked 300+ questions in the Gospels, Paul asks 65+ questions alone in Romans, God asks Job over 70 questions, and the list could go on. Questions engage a different part of our brain than when we just lecture or listen to a monologue. I've discovered that well-prepared teams regularly ask and discuss questions.


Though I have a plethora (Three Amigos reference) of questions, below are 25 questions (and a couple of bonus questions) that might inspire deeper thinking or discussion. Because I'm a practitioner, the following questions are more relational and ministry-minded than exegetical or philosophical. Even though I organized the questions into 4 categories, they're meant to be read and thought about within the local church context. I hope you find the questions helpful. I'll probably write on a few of them in the future.


Theological

  • What does Jesus say about sex, sexuality, and marriage?

  • What does following Jesus require of my sexuality?

  • Am I willing to follow Jesus even if I disagree with Him?

  • Where's the line between causing confusion and living in the tension of grace & truth?

  • Do people belong because they've believed or do people believe because they belong? [1]

  • How can people best respond to new beliefs based on their current reality?

  • Why have people maintained or changed their beliefs about sex, sexuality, and marriage?


Students & Families

  • Why is the suicide rate of LGBTQ teens so high?

  • What does it look like for churches to preserve space for students to disagree and dialogue about identity?

  • In a society that increasingly prioritizes emotions, how can we help students to value both emotions & logic?

  • How do churches unintentionally alienate LGBTQ kids?

  • How can churches help parents and LGBTQ kids empathize with each other?

  • How can families heal damaged relationships?


Ministry

  • How can churches cultivate belonging without sacrificing theological convictions?

  • How have people been hurt by a church's lack of empathy and intentionality?

  • How can churches foster environments where a person's sexuality isn't competing with their identity in Christ?

  • What's the difference between acknowledging someone's reality and affirming their relational decisions?

  • In a Christian culture that prioritizes marriage, what does it look like to emphasize and teach singleness & celibacy as celebrated life decisions?

  • How can we help celibate individuals carry a difficult burden?


Empathetic

  • How have people experienced bullying, harassment, rejection, and hurt because of their sexuality and/or sexual orientation?

  • How should people respond to a reality they didn't choose?

  • How does someone's past influence their experience of rejection?

  • What false assumptions do I have about LGBTQ people?

  • What does my indifference allow? Who does my indifference exclude?

  • How does it feel to be left out? How have I felt when I've been excluded?


**Check out The Messy Grace Group website for more resources & information.



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[1] Shout-out to my friend Greg Curtis for this question! Greg is an associate pastor at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim, CA and you can check out his work on assimilation at https://www.gregcurtis-assimilation.com/

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© 2020 by Caleb Kaltenbach