Colorado megachurch pastor Brady Boyd recently had an hour-long conversation with three homosexual men over coffee, which helped him learn at least five lessons about the gay community and the evangelical Jesus-following community.
Boyd, the senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., describes the meeting as "challenging, thought-provoking, enlightening" in a blog post. And, of course, all four of them were tense thanks to stereotypes that exist about gay people and evangelical megachurch pastors, he admits.
But the meeting helped the pastor learn five lessons.
"Our stories are more similar than we think," Boyd writes. After hearing about their upbringing, the pastor realized that "the details that separated my experience from theirs were grossly outnumbered by the uncanny similarities we shared."
The megachurch pastor also learned that "truth isn't always conveyed in love." For example, as soon as the three men came out as gay, they were treated terribly by Christ followers, all of whom wanted them to "know the truth."
Boyd was also surprised to find homosexuality "more bipartisan than we may think." Two of those three men were Republicans, the pastor shares. And they laughed about how both straight and gay people like to keep their money in their pocket instead of adding to the government dole.
Despite disagreements, common sense points to common ground, the pastor goes on to write. "While we may never agree on what the Bible means when it speaks of both sexuality and homosexuality, certainly we can agree that both the gay community and the evangelical Jesus-following community can do a better job of being kind toward one another," he says.
Boyd says he told the three, "Bullying is never okay," and that he is committed to stand up for everyone in the city – both gay and straight – who is being targeted for insults and outright violence. "I shared my story of being falsely accused of being a 'hater' when, in fact, I have never felt that way about the gay community."
Lastly, Boyd realized that a volatile gap can be bridged if they hold further dialogue in neutral territory like coffee tables.
The pastor also clarifies that he has not budged a bit on his belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and that acting on homosexual tendencies remains an outright sin. "I'm simply determined to live as Jesus lived. He had real relationships with people who believed and lived differently than him."
Church members responded to the blog by writing comments praising him.
One respondent suggested that the gay men should be invited to the church. "They are welcome at New Life," Boyd said. "They had some big misconceptions about our church, but I hope I helped them feel welcome."
However, there was one comment criticizing Boyd's openness. "I meet with people from all walks of life regularly. From time to time, I share what I learned in these meetings," the pastor responded. "We are a church deeply involved in our community and our eyes and hearts are fully open to the pain in our city and region."