Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Refocus on the Family

For this week's blog post, I am inserting a section of a new book published by my friend, Jim Daly, CEO and Director of Focus on the Family.  Jim's book is full of great insights about how evangelicals should engage the larger culture on issues that we hold dear and upon which we have strong convictions.  Jim kindly uses an illustration from my own ministry (enclosed here) to help illustrate how loving Christ followers need to interact with people who come from all different areas of dysfunction and brokenness.

The following incident actually occurred at Highlands Church while I was serving as founding pastor there in about 2009.  The example represents the kind of church that I feel God is calling us all to be - loving and full of mercy!

Excerpted from “ReFocus: Living a Life That Reflects God’s Heart” (Zondervan)
The law was brought in so that the trespass
might increase. But where sin increased,
grace increased all the more.

The Reverend Graham J. Baird is the senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs. Prior to coming to Colorado, Graham served as the founding pastor of Highlands Church in Paso Robles, California. The ministry started with twenty-five people in a drive-in movie theater and has since grown to over two thousand weekly attenders. Graham’s philosophy has been to pull down the barriers and make it easier for those wanting to come to church to learn about God. He has done a good job. Wherever he’s been a pastor, whether in rural California or the front range of the Rocky Mountains, he has led with a straightforward ministerial motto: “No perfect people allowed”—pastor included.
During his time in Paso Robles, Graham encountered a variety of family scenarios, including a lesbian couple married in a state where same-sex marriage was legal. They began coming to his church and eventually had twins via in vitro fertilization. He had an opportunity to lovingly share the Bible’s perspective on human sexuality. They continued to attend. When the couple asked to have their children baptized, he had a dilemma on his hands. According to his Reformed theology, the baptism of a child does not “save” a person but represents a commitment from the Christian parent to raise the child—or children—in the faith. Graham explained that given the couple’s same-sex relationship, he couldn’t ask them to present the child and make that commitment since they weren’t actually members of the church. They were disappointed. Graham asked why they didn’t simply find a church that would accommodate their request. Their response was powerful. “This is the only church where we have felt loved in,” they told him. The children were later presented for baptism by their grandparents, who were members of the church.
Graham went on to explain what I believe strongly—that people know very quickly whether or not they are loved. The fact that this couple continued to attend—even though the church’s theology with regard to sexuality was at odds with their personal actions—suggests that Highlands Church truly loved them for a variety of reasons, but especially for this one: They know that nobody is beyond the reach of God.

All For Now,


  1. Always knew it was a nice fellowship of people..despite the teachings. Too bad this couple's family is still considered "dysfunctional and broken" by so many. No amount of love could ever make me forget those thoughts that lie beneath. :( It can't be healthy seeking love from people who are at odds with who you are. Marriage and family comes with its own struggles, let alone trying to build a strong family unit among "loving" friends who believe you are broken,dysfunctional,and not living an acceptable life. Because yes, you can be loving towards minorities, for example, and still be racist. It's a little sad. But I know one day it won't be like that anymore. Calling their family broken will be looked at as arcane and terrible. Change comes slowly though, that's always how it has to be. Actions are changing, and love is being shown. That is good. Next, thoughts will change. Then finally, beliefs will change. Maybe in my lifetime.
    I guess I take more issue with people who would choose to attend a church that believes they are broken. Personally, I rather worship on my own than have to say to myself every week... "These people are so loving to me, despite the fact they see me as living a sinful lifestyle. How nice of them. Oh well, guess it's better than nothing." Really?

  2. I'm probably bugging you know, but I just realized how ironic it was that this post came right before the one about "Loving yourself".

    In my opinion, choosing to attend a church that doesn't believe in your marriage or your 'lifestyle' or your being, is NOT the definition of loving yourself.