In my One-Hour Seminary tonight someone asked, "What should a church do if a same-sex couple begins coming to your church?"
I mentioned Mark Yarhouse's idea of how we should relate to transgendered people, if they come to our church.
"In response to the unchurched and dechurched transgender community, the Christian community needs to ask what it will look like to be missional in the years to come. Keep in mind that this is a group that will be asking, “What does the church have to offer me?” The perception (and too often the reality) is that transgender persons who have nothing to do with the church perceive that the church would reject them out of hand. They have either had poor experiences with the church or they view the church as largely unimportant or irrelevant in their lives.
It has been observed that a traditional evangelical church focuses on behavior first, followed by belief in Christ and a sense of Christian community. It essentially looks like this:
Behave → Believe → Belong
This approach begins with communicating expectations for change in how others behave. This may not be explicit, but it often has more to do with the comfort level of evangelicals who are sitting in the pews. They may believe the gospel is for those outside the church, but they do not want those outside the church to actually cross into the church until their behaviors change. What follows the expectation of behavior change is belief in Christ. Unfortunately, on the heels of the expectation of behavioral compliance, it can come across to those outside the church as, “Think the way we think,” which is a hard message after the expectation to conform to behavioral norms. Then the message is: Now you belong. It is a remarkably conditional approach to the world, and one that, in my view, is not sustainable in our changing sociocultural context.
A missional church model offers a different outline:
Belong → Believe → Become
A missional church focuses on first being in relationship (belong) then moves toward an opportunity to live one’s testimony to an unbelieving culture (believe). Only when a person enters into that relationship is there any thought given to who a person becomes over time as they grow in their relationship with Christ (become). Some people will insert the word behave where I have become, but I prefer the designation become to behave, as it reminds evangelicals that the process of sanctification is not a checklist of behaviors but a dynamic process of growing in Christlikeness."
Yarhouse, Mark A.. Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture (Christian Association for Psychological Studies Books), Kindle Locations 2780-2800