Tag Archives: Christian living

‘A Letter to my Congregation: An evangelical pastor’s path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender into the company of Jesus’ by Ken Wilson

A Letter to my Congregationstarstarstarstarstar“One of the most exquisite, painful, candid, brilliant pieces…that I have ever seen.” Phyllis Tickle

This is an important book that could give the church a way forward with divisive controversial issues. Many LGBTQ people have experienced harm and exclusion from the church. Ken Wilson, a pastor who was trying to do the best for all of the members of his flock, courageously took a deeper look and bravely came to a very different conclusion than he previously held. In this book he humbly, honestly, and insightfully shares his own journey, and also describes a biblically thoughtful approach that can offer hope to churches struggling with this and other issues in today’s world.

Wilson recommends the breakthrough ‘Third Way’ approach that recognizes that some things are disputable and that our spiritual orientation should be one of inclusion and tolerance on both sides. The Third Way approach says, “We can agree to disagree on this question without separating from each other. We can hold our respective positions as firmly as our conscience dictates. But we have chosen not to treat this matter as something we have to hold in common in order to share a true unity of the Spirit.” 

Churches like The Meeting House in Ontario have adopted the Third Way. Below are some further resources on the topic including 1) a Third Way newsletter, 2) The Meeting House’s statement of their understanding of the Third Way, and 3) a sermon by Ken Wilson preached at the City Centre Church in San Francisco. This talk is an excellent piece that is well worth listening to.

What struck me the most about Wilson’s book, which I thoroughly enjoyed, was his openness and willingness to ask difficult questions and test assumptions. His strategy was to study the Scriptures, engage in prayer and soul searching, and have frank conversations with people. He was willing to risk coming to conclusions that not everyone will like or agree with. His motivation for this book was love for God and his people, and the result is inspirational.

Third Way Newsletter: A New Way of Being Together
The Meeting House on Same-Sex Marriage: A “Third Way” Approach
Sermon by Rev. Ken Wilson on Romans 14:1-13

‘7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess’ by Jen Hatmaker

7 An Experimental Mutiny Against ExcessstarstarstarstarThis was an entertaining book to read over the Christmas holiday time. Talk about a season of “excess”! Jen Hatmaker’s book is a reflection on how life would be if we dared to live with less and were less drawn into the consumerism of our culture. She dedicated herself to 7 months of fasting from things and then paid attention to how limiting certain things like food, clothing and media affected her life.

“Fasting helps us develop mastery over the competing voices in our heads that urge us toward more, toward indulgence, toward emotional volatility. Like consistent discipline eventually shapes our children’s behaviour, so it is with us. Believe it or not, God can still change us. Not just our habits but our hearts. Say “no” for a year and see for yourself.”

What I appreciated about the book is that she shares a fresh perspective without throwing around a lot of guilt. Here is what she did in the 7 months.

Month 1: Limited her eating to only 7 foods.
Month 2: Limited her clothing to 7 items.
Month 3: Gave away 7 items per day.
Month 4: Shut down 7 media screens from use.
Month 5: Adopted 7 habits for a greener life.
Month 6: Limited shopping to 7 vendors only.
Month 7: Stopped to pause for rest and prayer 7 times a day.

Hatmaker writes with a good deal of humour but also delivers some very interesting insights. One reviewer said that what Hatmaker does is “makes you laugh and then slaps you up the side of your face.”  In this book she does not deliver a directive or offer a template because everyone is different and has unique lessons to learn.  It’s a clear case of the questions being more important than the answers. What she does offer is an amusing challenge to “live simply so that others may simple live”. This important book underscores the message that what we do does make a difference and it is our responsibility to God and others to take our actions seriously.