When You Don’t Fit in at Church

Ever feel like you don’t fit in at church? I did.

I was raised in conservative evangelicalism. My father was a pastor, and I spent a lot of time at church.

As an adolescent, I struggled with my faith because I expected it to “deliver” me from same-sex attraction, something that some religions consider to be aberrant and sinful—especially conservative Christianity.

I strayed from God during my college years but returned with a vengeance, committing my life to the Lord and Christian morality and service. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. I was determined to conquer same-sex attraction with God’s grace.

I married a woman and started a Christian ministry and a publishing company. I continued to do everything in my power to allow God to work in me to “cure” me of same-sex attraction. I tried for nearly twenty years.

Prayer didn’t work. Fasting didn’t work. Deliverance didn’t work. A stint in reparative therapy left me hopeless and suicidal. I was still gay.

With the help of my wife, I realized I could no longer deny who I was just because the spiritual community I was part of held narrowly prescribed notions of what was acceptable, moral, and holy.

God hadn’t cured me because I wasn’t sick. Instead, I needed to come out of the closet.

Man in closet

As a result, we disbanded the ministry, divorced amicably, sold our house, and started over again. It was hard but ultimately freeing for both of us. (We’re still good friends.)

After I came out, I thought I had failed God and that God had abandoned me. But I experienced a sovereign visitation of the Holy Spirit, unexpected and powerful, and I received a new calling to leave the ninety-nine and find the one.

This led to another crisis: I needed to come out of the closet about my newfound spirituality.

You see, even while I was in the evangelical/charismatic Christian community, some of my spiritual gifts did not fit with their ideas of orthodoxy. For example, I saw visions of each of my grandparents after they had died. In my religious circle at the time, this was considered to be “of the devil.”

I heard God speaking to me in my heart and wrote down the messages but kept quiet about it. (“You hear voices?! Hmmm…”) I saw visions.

I had prophetic gifts. But I was gay and out.

I concluded that conservative Christianity as I had experienced it would not draw those seeking unconditional acceptance, especially LGBT people. I didn’t feel safe in those churches anymore. I knew I didn’t belong.

So, where could I turn to find genuine fellowship and be released to use my gifts? I had no idea where I would fit in.

I tried a number of churches but felt I was always denying myself or my unique gifts to belong to a particular group.

Either I needed to hide that I was Pentecostal and prophetic to fit in a church that accepted me as gay, or I had to pretend I was straight so that I could enjoy Pentecostal worship and an environment where the gifts of the Spirit operated.

I also wanted to teach and speak inspirationally but didn’t feel called to go to seminary (although I have a masters in biblical studies). I longed to use my spiritual gifts to minister to others instead of simply sitting and listening to endless sermons or participating in scripted religious activities.

Who would understand that I experienced dreams and visions, and heard the voice of the Holy Spirit, whose words I faithfully transcribed? Naturally, I also wanted to be open about and be accepted as a gay man.

I haven’t found the perfect church for me—yet.

I feel the Lord has called me to reach out to the marginalized, those who’ve been rejected by the Church or who simply feel like they don’t belong in an orthodox spiritual community. Let me ask you:

  • The Creator loves you and has a unique purpose for your life. Have you found it?
  • Are you disenchanted with organized religion but still want to cultivate a connection with God through Jesus Christ?
  • Are you hungry for more of the Holy Spirit and desire to be trained in spiritual ministry to others?

If what I’m saying resonates with you, and you want to connect, feel free to comment here or contact me.

In the meantime, you can connect with others like you through social media. Search for people using the hashtags #exvangelical and #FaithfullyLGBT on Facebook or Twitter. There are also organizations such as The Reformation Project and the Q Christian Fellowship where you can connect with others of faith who are LGBT.

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherewith he hath made us freely accepted in his beloved” (Eph. 1:6 GNV).

Misfit toys

More information:
Check out my booklet, Response to a Concerned Heterosexual Christian, available on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.

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