a look inside soulforce, a different collegiate effort

One of the groups connected to our work that is worth paying attention to is Soulforce, a pro-GLBT organization that has worked hard to visit lots of Christian campuses (among other places) in the last few years. I remember discussing a Soulforce visit with at least one institutional college minister, a university ministries director at a major Christian college. If I’m remembering correctly, he described the visit as awkward – and not because of the university community’s response, but because of the visitors and their unpreparedness for actual dialogue.

While I certainly disagree with the theology of Soulforce, it is absolutely vital for us to recognize that the students this organization seeks to serve do feel as if we – those on “the other side” of this issue – have belittled, defamed, and detested them. We do not seem to have been successful, by and large, with expressing well what we actually possess.

So this organization and the many issues surrounding the GLBT (and other initials, depending on your campus) community are clearly important to our field. And I haven’t personally heard of any major efforts from Evangelical Christian college ministries on this front – let me know if you’ve heard of some.

Since the co-founder of this organization is retiring, he took the opportunity to share a detailed history of the efforts and perceived successes in the group’s twelve years. The letter seems to have been cobbled together a bit (for instance, it refers to Jerry Falwell as if he’s still alive) and seems to make some leaps in its correlations of Soulforce activity and certain outcomes. But it’s still helpful for understanding this organization from the inside… and not just their history, but their views, hurts, anger, and concerns.

You can download a copy of the letter here.

And since it connects closely to this issue, I also wanted to point you to Gabe Lyons’s recent Headline News interview. Gabe is one of the authors of unChristian, which has been widely received by college ministers throughout our country. He has a new book out – The Next Christians – which continues his discussion of how Christians can present our views and “the life that is truly life” really well in the present day. It’s a brief interview, but it might get you interested in the book OR provide a great lead-in for a campus ministry talk / discussion.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you Benson for your insight into how we should address the GLBT Community on our campus’. It is important to remember that we should still love people regardless of the choices they make in their lifestyle, because God loves them. I think this community is already finding enough hate and discrimination from the secular world that we should go out of our way to show them the love of Christ. This doesn’t condone their actions, but shows them that they are still created in the image of God and therefore should be treated as such. I struggle with this mindset all the time, but my heart breaks when I see how much hate that this community seems to receive from church organizations. I hope some people give some good examples of how they have reached out to this group on their campus.

  2. Cary

    I was a graduate student in seminary at Abilene Christian University in Texas when Soulforce paid a visit in 2006 on their Equality Ride.

    It was also one of the greatest moments I have had in the Christian world. ACU responded to their visit and their presence in the most proactively Christ-like manner I can imagine. They embraced their visit, welcomed them to campus, set up dialogues between them and various student and faculty groups, invited them to chapel, hosted them in a student-run worship time at the campus church, and, most of all, treated them as humans who deserve respect, despite theological or lifestyle differences. It made an impact on Soulforce, as their reflections on the visit later were very positive.

    I found their readiness for intelligent dialogue impressive. It turned out to be one of the most rational, level-headed, and compassionate displays of humanity – from both sides of the issue – that I have ever seen. Abilene Christian University set the standard in Christian response to challenge.

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