An Open Letter to Rachael Denhollander on #SBCtoo

Dear Rachael,

This past week, the Houston Chronicle published a three-part series on sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention.

In response, you asked: “Pastors, where were you? When we were pleading for you to speak up against your peers or the leaders your support props up, where were you?”

I want (and need) to answer your question. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Rachael Denhollander on #SBCtoo”

Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community — Part 3

In Part 1, of this three-part series, guest author Lucy Crabtree shared her experience with hearing loss and struggle to find a place in the local church. In Part 2, she offered practical advice for loving your neighbors in the hearing loss community. This third and final installment features practical advice for including the hearing loss community in the local church.

— Part 3 —

Including people with hearing loss at church requires cultivating a culture of inclusion, which goes beyond providing accommodations to examining the church’s internal culture and attitude about hearing loss.

The first step toward inclusion at church is to know your people. If you do have someone in your congregation with hearing loss, start by meeting with them and asking questions. What do they need? How do they prefer to communicate? What could the church do to make Sunday services easier for them to understand? What are other church events like for them? Listen, and work with them to figure out how to better include them at church.

If you do not know of anyone in your congregation with hearing loss, consider looking for a Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), or state association for the Deaf affiliate nearby, or even with your state school for the Deaf. They can offer context for your area’s Deaf/hard of hearing population and culture. If your area is home to a population of culturally Deaf people, then starting or supporting a Deaf ministry or church may be the best option. Check Deaf Missions and Deaf Bible Society to see how you can get started.

Even if a Deaf ministry is in your future, still be mindful of those in your congregation with hearing loss who do not consider themselves part of Deaf culture. The following suggestions listed here are based on my hard of hearing experience and from what I hear from my late deafened friends. Continue reading “Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community — Part 3”

Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community — Part 2

In Part 1, of this three-part series, guest author Lucy Crabtree shared her experience with hearing loss and struggle to find a place in the local church. In this second post, she offers practical advice for loving your neighbors in the hearing loss community. 

— Part 2 —

As I concluded in Part 1, we Christians have an opportunity to honor the imago dei and respect the dignity of all people by communicating respectfully and appropriately with people with hearing loss. In interpersonal communication, one way to show this honor and respect is by asking a simple question: “What’s the best way for me to communicate with you?” Continue reading “Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community — Part 2”

Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community

Last October, I posted the following tweet, in which I used the term “deaf and dumb” in proximity with being cognitively impaired:

One of my followers, Lucy Crabtree, sent me a kind private message in response. She informed me of how the phrase has been used historically. She also explained why it can be offensive to those in the hearing loss community.

I felt convicted and posted an apology thread.

Since that time, I’ve thought a lot about how little I understand the hearing loss community and how to welcome them into my life and church community.

In December, I published a two-part guest series, “Welcoming the Eating Disorder Community.” It was well-received, and I learned a lot. So, I decided to continue the “Welcoming…” series. Lucy graciously accepted my invitation to write a series on “Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community,” which will appear in three parts this week.

— Part 1 —

I smile and nod in empathy as my new friend tells me about her church. “The pastor sends me and a few other people his sermon before church,” she says. “Those of us with hearing difficulties.” I wince as another friend sighs deeply and says she can’t follow the conversation during the ladies’ Bible study. And I listen as my Deaf and hard of hearing friends tell me over and over, “My parents made me go to church but I had no idea what was going on, so I don’t go anymore.”

A few years ago, I would have told a similar story: I went to church, but I had a hard time following conversations and keeping up with the sermon, so I stopped going.

I spent two years out of church. How could God be okay with me being excluded at church? Why did I have to be hard of hearing and why did communicating with others have to be so much extra work? Why didn’t He DO something? Continue reading “Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community”

ESV Reader’s Bible — Review & Giveaway

Struggling to read the Bible with consistency, enthusiasm, and understanding is common for Christians. But given the expectation that we read it regularly, it can be a difficult struggle to confess. I found the 6-Volume ESV Readers Bible to be a great help. I think it could help you too.

Here’s my story and why I love this edition of the Bible (and how you can win one!) Continue reading “ESV Reader’s Bible — Review & Giveaway”

How Do You Like Your Conflict—Rare or Well Done?

“Well, at least this sort of thing is rare,” a friend remarked after a conflict that went south.

My mind (which, if illustrated, would look a bit like a conspiracy theorist’s wall with pieces of string connecting a thousand unrelated newspaper clippings and excerpts from The Catcher in the Rye) immediately associated “rare” with steak.

I replied, “Unfortunately, conflict is like steak—when it’s rare, it isn’t well done.”

Since then, I’ve been meditating on how true that is. Continue reading “How Do You Like Your Conflict—Rare or Well Done?”

#DearPastor: Is Jesus the True and Better Woman?

It’s early Tuesday morning. You shuffle into your study at the church, turn on the coffee maker, and open your laptop.

While the coffee brews, you open your email to find a subject line that says “Is Jesus the True and Better Woman?”

You open the message. It reads: Continue reading “#DearPastor: Is Jesus the True and Better Woman?”

Suspecting Gillette: The Best the Church Can Get?

Gillette recently released a commercial, “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be,” addressing the #MeToo movement.

It calls men to something better than misogyny, bullying, sexual harassment, and the objectifying of women. It encourages men to use their strength and influence to protect the weak, to treat other human beings with dignity and value, and to hold one another accountable. It admits that not all men are bullies and misogynists, and it praises the virtuous acts of those doing the right things.

Nevertheless, the ad has generated a conflicted response from the public.

I hadn’t seen the ad. I wouldn’t have except the social media uproar prodding me to what all the to-do was about. I watched it. I loved it. (I love it with one exception: Gillette products are used to prevent beard growth, which is an abomination.)

I understand there are various reasons that people take issue with it: It attacks masculinity in general. It conflates “toxic masculinity” with all masculinity. It stereotypes all men.

I don’t see those things in the ad. I won’t address them.

There is one criticism that I want to address—namely, that Gilette is being opportunistic, seeking to build a customer base and make a quick buck by pandering to the social issues of the day. In other words, they are acting with insincere motives.

That criticism—insofar as it results in an unwillingness to praise the ad—doesn’t sit well with me. Continue reading “Suspecting Gillette: The Best the Church Can Get?”

Away in a Manger — The Little Lord Who Did Not Cry

This year’s Christmas Eve sermon on Silent Night reminded me of a sermon I preached on Christmas Morning, 2011 looking at the message of the Christmas carol “Away in a Manger.”

Some Christian leaders refuse to sing “Away in a Manger,” citing the lyrics (namely, “the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes”) as “odd or misleading,” saying, “This lyric misses a key aspect of the Incarnation: Jesus entered into our suffering.” I disagree.

This sermon examines the beloved Christmas carol and defends its message—a reminder and celebration of Jesus’ divinity and humanity, his majesty and his humility. Continue reading “Away in a Manger — The Little Lord Who Did Not Cry”