Thursday, January 27, 2011

Turning Controversy Into Church Ministry - A Christlike Response to Homosexuality

I have finally finished reading the book Turning Controversy Into Church Ministry - A Christlike Response to Homosexuality by Pastor W.P. Campbell. This is a book I highly recommend to everyone who is at a loss on the subject of homosexuality. I especially recommend this book to church ministers, pastors, priests, religious, and those who are into the SSA ministries. It is a sad fact that our Church has not sufficiently and effectively ministered to people struggling with homosexuality. The Church is supposed to be a place of healing and refuge for these people and when the church fails on this task these people turn to the gay lifestyle where they feel accepted and affirmed, albeit in a wrong way.

About The Book

While some churches debate the issue of homosexuality and others completely avoid it, struggling people fall through the cracks. This is a book for Christians and church leaders who want to risk above the debate and make a difference in the world by thinking, acting, and speaking in ways that express both redemptive truth and Christlike love.

Pastor Bill Campbell shares insights, tools, and practical guidelines for any congregation that wishes to see Christians positively influence how the larger culture frames the issue of same-sex attraction. He demonstrates how readers can converse in a truthful, loving, and insightful manner about such topics as the nature/nurture debate, law vs. grace, and Scripture’s call to holiness. Campbell suggests ways churches can build ministry in leadership training, preaching, support groups, mentoring/counseling, and outreach.

Turning Controversy Into Church Ministry provides the right blend of information, practical action steps, and guidelines for Christian renewal so that controversy about homosexuality can become the launching pad for vital ministry.

About The Author

W.P. Campbell (DMin, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina. He began researching, debating, and writing about homosexuality and the church over twenty years ago. Bill serves on the advisory board of OneByOne, a ministry that equips churches to bring truth and grace to those who struggle with same-sex attraction. Bill and his wife, Lin, live in western North Carolina and have three children.

Truth Meets Grace

Throughout the book, the author emphasizes the importance of combining truth and grace when ministering to people with SSA:

Jesus did not hide the truth; he called the adulteress to repentance. But neither did he insult her, condemn her, or throw her out. His grace embraced her and sent her forth to live a better life. If he had demonstrated grace without truth, he would have let her stagger down the path of personal destruction. If he had spoken truth without grace, he would have clubbed her with the law and sentenced her to stoning by the crowd.

Truth and grace – have you ever tried putting those two together without minimizing either? Without God’s help, it is a daunting task. Grace without truth hampers, confuses, and even deceives. Truth without grace cuts, wounds, and destroys. Those who approach thorny matters such as sexual addiction, homosexuality, and adultery with only truth become experts at alienation. Those who bring love into such discussions but avoid the truth are unable to confront patterns of behavior that hurt self and society. Both are important; neither can function properly without the other. Salt is essential to the body, but separated into its two elements, sodium and chloride, it can be deadly. (p. 13)

The Controversy

Much of the 'controversy' surrounding homosexuality arises from our failure to see the grand picture. Homosexuality is a multifaceted issue and in medical parlance multifactorial. Due to its complexity, the SSA condition is poorly understood even by those in the church hierarchy. As an example, the 'born gay born that way' theory is sowing so much confusion in the minds of the people out of a belief in the existence of a gay gene, which has not been scientifically documented thus far.

When dealing with homosexuals, there is a tendency to be 'overcompassionate' (gay affirming - strong in grace, weak in truth) or to be 'overbearing' (gay bashing - strong in truth, weak in grace). Others take the side of being indifferent or fearful because the issue seems too confusing, too political, and too divisive. Thus, the only way out is a Christlike response - a church whose members love the homosexuals but is at the same time firm in upholding the biblical standards of sexual morality pertaining to homosexuality. This is the kind of church we need today - a church that is strong both in truth and grace. This is what constitutes a dynamic ministry.

I like the way Pastor Campbell tackles the issue of homosexuality in a comprehensive and balanced manner. He does not only offer a sound biblical approach but he also delves into the psychological and biological aspects in an attempt to clarify widespread misconceptions and beliefs and expand our understanding of the subject. On the second half of the book, he offers us the blueprint on how we are to go about in ministering to persons with SSA. This is very important especially for us who are directly involved in the ministry. At the end of each chapter, there is a section devoted to people who have left the gay lifestyle and are now ministering in their own way to fellow SSA strugglers. Their testimonials are powerful. This is proof that change is very much possible and that God's grace is at work in transforming the lives of those who seek the truth. At the end of the book, there are questions for personal and group reflection and a list of books, websites, and other ministry resources.

The Ministry

In his book Pastor Campbell offers these ten ministry essentials:

1. The best way to avoid extremes is to follow Christ’s example.

2. Churches that blend uncompromised grace and truth are positioned for dynamic ministry.

3. Ministry begins when we connect brokenness in our hearts with brokenness in others.

4. Church leadership is about godly role models, not rights.

5. We must embrace the whole of Scripture to keep our lives whole.

6. Our genes bear the shadow of the fallen creation. They do not overshadow righteous living,
however, for those who are new creations in Christ.

7. The law leads us to Christ, who enables us to fulfill it.

8. The goal is not to move from homosexuality to heterosexuality, but from homosexuality to holiness.

9. Where sin abounds, God’s grace is greater still.

10. With God, nothing is impossible and no one is unreachable. (p. 17)

Table of Contents

Part 1


1. The Feet: Where Your Church Stands
2. The Heart: How Your Church Cares
3. The Head: Who Your Church Follows

Part 2


Creation and Science: Did God Create Homosexuality?

4. The Landscape: The Grand Sweep of the Bible
5. The Source: The Genetics Question

Standards and Psychology: Which Norms Are Still Relevant?

6. The Law: Separating Temporal from Eternal
7. The Wisdom: Insights from Psychology

Compassion and the Church: Does God Really Care?

8. The Grace: Sodom Revisited
9. The Potential: Life-Changing Power

Part 3


10. Blueprint: Six Ministry Spheres

Foundation: What Every Church Needs

11. Motivation: Prayer
12. Vision: Leadership
13. Healing: Family Values

Structure: Your Unique Ministry

14. Growth: Mentors and Counselors
15. Support: Small Group Ministry
16. Celebration: Outreach

Conclusion: The Big Picture
Questions for Personal or Group Reflection
Additional Ministry Resources

Final Word

I want to personally thank the author of this book himself, Pastor Bill Campbell, for giving space for Courage Philippines in his book on pages 205-206 and for sending us a copy of his book which I am now reviewing. Meanwhile, please watch this short video as the author narrates why this book is a must read for Christians today.

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