Let’s talk about two things impacting the evangelical church: LGBTQ inclusion and Women in Leadership.
Before you click away please know I don’t want to get stirred up on which side of the debate holds the better biblical argument or who the church has the right to exclude from holding which position (or being baptized or withhold communion, or prohibit leading worship, etc.). Instead let us consider enforced policy—or what a church teaches about these subjects and how the beliefs are acted upon.
Of late I’ve been looking for a community in which I might feel comfortable. That’s how I stumbled across churchclarity.org. What they do is rate churches by their stance on women in leadership and LGBTQ acceptance. Unfortunately this information is rarely available on a church website.
It’s true. The first place I go to learn about a church I might visit is to the internet. After looking at dozens of church sites over the past year I can tell you there is definite “look” to church marketing. Big photos of smiling people, some feature the racially diverse while others focus on specific age groups. Slick church logos and bright and cheery buttons that say “visit us,” “welcome,” or “be part of our community,” are prominent. There’s typically a staff page with mugshots of smiling people in trendy clothes with perfect hair and white teeth. It’s clear these websites are selling a brand.
Now I have nothing against target marketing, but it bothers me that there is very little on these sites that explains what the churches believe. Other than perhaps a creedal statement or link to a denominational website there is no mention of enforced policies of LGBTQ inclusion or Women in Leadership. To me these are important issues and I would prefer to know walking in what the church believes.
Check it out yourself. Visit your church’s website and see if you can find any policy on what roles women can hold or if the church is LGBTQ affirming. You’ll be surprised. Words seem to be crafted very carefully to dodge the specifics and disguise what may appear exclusionary.
That’s why churchclarity.org is important. Their rating scale is clear and understandable. The highest rating a church can receive is “Verified Clear.” That means that no matter what the church’s position is on these issues it is clearly stated and easily found on the website. I hope we would all agree that’s a good thing.
Now visit churchclarity.org and search for churches in your area. They have rated over 2,000 churches across the country with more added each week. While at the site don’t miss the first person stories of people who believed their church accepted them but ultimately found themselves excluded. There are also communications between mega church leaders and Church Clarity founders that shed a lot of light on the way churches mislead people in regard to enforced policies.
Honesty and transparency used to be things the church strived for. Now it seems there are things that need to be covered or disguised because they may provoke tough questions and uncomfortable discussions. I think clarity would be something that all of us would welcome.