Perception of Intolerance

During our panel discussion at the Arts Conference, after we heard from Pastor Dan Kimball, we attempted to wrestle with some of the questions raised in his book, They Like Jesus But Not The Church. Time did not come close to allowing us to explore in any depth so many issues and questions that were raised. In light of that, we thought we could continue the dialog online, and attempt to dig deeper into one issue at a time. I’d like to start the conversation exploring the overall perception held by many outside the church that communities of Christian faith are essentially intolerant. Three of the big 6 impressions shared by Dan’s contacts outside the church all fit under this umbrella, including the perception that the church is homophobic and a boys club not embracing women leaders.

As church leaders, whatever our theological and Scriptural positions may be on issues like homosexuality and women in leadership, and whatever our political leanings may be, the question is whether those who don’t necessarily share the same point of view are not only welcome, but also encouraged to dialog about their perspectives. Essentially, would we describe our weekly gatherings as places where people are invited into an interactive experience and conversation, or are we only presenting truth as we see it and offering solutions or answers? I am not suggesting we have to compromise on what we see as Biblical truth…I am only asking whether we make room for people to engage, explore their questions, challenge our thinking, and feel genuinely heard.

Some church leaders might contend that the only way to change the perception that we are intolerant is to throw out our standards, our beliefs, our definitions of sin, etc. Do you think that is the only choice we have? Or can we invent ways to offer an experience that feels like more of a dialog than a monolog while still teaching Biblical truth lovingly as we see it? We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this. What have you done at your church to make room for this kind of exploration? Do you believe the reputation of churches as intolerant is deserved? Is there any hope for altering that reputation? Please send us your thoughts and maybe we can all help one another consider some constructive alternatives…

3 comments:

MilePost13 said...

can you please post the list of perceptions that Dan mentioned in his session? I was only quick enough to jot down a few of them at the time. Thanks!!!!!

Stefanie said...

From Dan's book, "They Like Jesus But Not The Church," there are 6 perceptions of the church. They are: 1. The Church is an organized religion with a political agenda. 2. The Church is judgemental and negative. 3. The Church is dominated by males and oppresses females. 4. The Church is homophobic. 5. The Church arrogently claims all other religions are wrong. 6. The Church is full of fundamentalists that take the whole Bible literally.

Stefanie said...

Oh, 7. The Church is intolerant. These are from his book not the talk. Does any one know if these are the same as what he talked about at the conference?