There are all sorts of ‘hot topics’ in our culture.
In my opinion, as leaders, we need to be proactive in addressing these issues. Unfortunately, many times we tend to just let them come to us rather than proactively leading our people and equipping them to navigate conversations like:
- same-sex attraction/partnership
- gay marriage
- legalization of marijuana
Then there are some other topics that we tend to just let go unaddressed in the church context like:
- the role of women in the church
- specific (defers from context to context) spiritual gifts
- navigating the church and state boundaries
These are all issues that are too often left unaddressed, and therefore, they become “unspoken truths” that leave people to drown in their own assumptions. This creates confusion. We tend to think that people will be able to navigate these issues on their own and clearly understand our position as a local church. Both assumptions are wrong. And, it’s my firm belief that we must proactively shepherd people in areas such as these.
So, here are 3 general guidelines for being a proactive leader in these areas:
- Provide Clarity. Clearly state your position AND the underlying convictions that drive your conclusions. Articulating the underlying convictions you have (such as scripture being our standard) are critical for these conversations.
- Provide Framework. Clearly lay out the expectations you have for people as they dialogue about these types of things. I recently did a forum for our church on the LGBT conversation. One of the things I set up as a framework is the following statement: “Humility and love, not shame, is our mutual aspiration.” These types of things set a tone for dialogue and are necessary to “posture” our people to be able to handle these conversations in God-honoring ways.
- Provide Freedom. People need to be given freedom to discuss topics like this in our churches. Everyone gets super tense when these types of topics come up in conversation and much of this is due to our lack of articulating the freedom they have to do so.
I pray we can all be proactive leaders.
0 thoughts on “Proactive Leadership for Taboo Topics”
These are excellent provisions, Chuck. Too often we get into the “us vs them” mentality, and both sides miss the point altogether. Proactive is so much better than reactive. Thanks!
The most common question I get from students about marijuana is “If marijuana was legal, would it be ok for Christians to smoke it?”
As I am in a denomination that has no issues with moderate drinking, my answer to this question is “Yes,” since I don’t see any scriptural basis to differentiate between the two substances. However, this question always makes me squirm because at least in some cases I suspect the student is going to use my (honest and thought-out) response to rationalize their current and illegal use of marijuana.
good thoughts and question, william! i agree that people very well may take what you say and rationalize it in order that they could sin, but that’s true with anything. but one more thought: it’s tough to rationalize “illegal use of marijuana” being permissible when held up to passages like Romans 13.