It is helpful to step back from time to time and take stock of where we are in creating congregations that genuinely welcome and include LGBTQ+ people.
When you are working to expand your welcome, take a little time to inventory your leaders and ministries. At this halfway point in the year, we suggest asking yourself some questions for which there are no right answers. You may wish to reflect on the following questions:
- Are LGBTQ people included at every level of leadership? Can LGBTQ people serve on our governing board, as ministry leads, as staff and pastors, and in all other programs?
- Are there still internal barriers to full participation? These may range from a few resistant members of the congregation to denominational policies which forbid LGBTQ people to serve in particular roles. What can you do to remove some of these barriers?
- What percentage of our membership and attendees are LGBTQ? Does this number reflect our values and goals for LGBTQ participation?
- Do we feel our congregation is genuinely becoming more welcoming to a diverse set of people? What metrics can we use to confirm our feelings about this?
- Are we including a diverse group of LGBTQ people or only those who are comfortable to our congregation? People who are “comfortable” may mean, for example, only those of your racial or ethnic group, those of the same age as the majority of the congregation, people who assimilate easily or “seem just like heterosexuals.” How does your answer—whatever it is—fit with your wider goals for your congregation?
- What are we actively working on right now to increase our welcome? If the answer doesn’t come readily to mind, that may tell you that you don’t have clear next steps to focus on. Clarifying that can help keep you on track.
Take some time to be thankful for the aspects of your ministry that are working well and for the many ways in which you are expanding your welcome. And then think about how to address any areas of concern that arose. This is holy work!