The following article was written by a new friend I recently met named Aarron Swartz. His response to the Sight Ministry is much different from what I have often received from typical pastors and typical churches (though there have been some positive exceptions). Aarron is a church planter in East Nashville, TN, and pastors Restoration Church. Please read the article and rejoice with me at what the LORD is doing.
A “Safe” Church
Can I be honest? Of course I can, I am writing this Lewis and I just got back from an associational meeting with other Southern Baptist church planters and I struggled with whether or not I wanted to go. Over the years, I have had bad experiences with associational meetings for various reasons ranging from boredom to politics. Frankly, I have been embarrassed at some of the petty ego issues and manipulative junk I have seen destroy SBC churches over the years. However, I am happy to say that I walked away from today’s meeting feeling hopeful about the future of SBC church planting and especially the leadership of the NBA (not the basketball league.)
In particular I met a man named Richard who has started a ministry for those coming out of a homosexual lifestyle. Richard was a pastor when he himself admitted to his own struggle with homosexuality. He was embraced by his pastor with a redemptive attitude but has seen many who have received only hatred. As we talked, we shared our frustration with the way the homosexual community has been treated and I shared with him the burden God has laid on my heart for them. In the midst of political battles and ignorance, a whole group of human beings have been made out to be something they are not. Let me state this clearly, I believe God has called His church to love all people with the mercy we ourselves have received. Some of us have fallen short by our greed, others by our pride, and still others by sexual sin, but make no mistake ALL have fallen short. ALL need Jesus.
Richard proceeded to tell me that he is looking for “Safe” churches for those struggling with homosexuality. These are churches that will embrace hurting people without judgmental attitudes and condemnation. I almost jumped out of my seat as I said to him “We are that safe church!” ”Please, send these struggling people our way!!!” I cannot tell you how badly I want Restoration church to be a group of people that actively seek out hurting people with the grace of Jesus Christ.
Along with Richard’s story and mission, I heard a planter talk about his family’s burden for muslims in Nashville and all over the world. I listened to a man moved by the plight of the homeless who is mentoring homeless missionaries. I heard Rusty Summerall from the NBA talk about the hurts that the “Church” has caused over the years and his heart to see that change. I saw humble men and women who just wanted to show others the love of Christ. Lewis and I were both very encouraged by what God is doing. Our prayer is that more and more churches will become “safe” churches. I pray that we will be known as a church who loves homosexuals and everyone else for that matter!