At the time, Michael Lindsay had no idea he’d just lit a fuse that would threaten to explode his institution.
As the president of Gordon College, a Christian school near Boston, Lindsay simply joined other Christian leaders in signing a letter to the White House, concerning a proposed employment rule about hiring homosexuals. The private letter was released to the media, and a firestorm ensued.
Lindsay found himself the object of waves of hate mail, his college’s accreditation was questioned, longtime supporters of the college fled, new student enrollment dropped, and budgets had to be slashed.
All because he wished to hold onto the institution’s long-held convictions.
It cost him and his school dearly. “It was a debilitating, hurtful, painful episode in my life,” he says on the Holy Soup podcast. “I found myself waking up with a pit in my stomach. I lost weight. I lost sleep. I shed tears. This has absolutely been the loneliest season of my life.”
Listen to the compelling conversation with Michael Lindsay here:
At this time of societal upheaval, those who take positions that differ from fervent cultural or political movements often find themselves in the cross-hairs. And, as in Lindsay’s case, even when one makes subtle and quiet moves, the opposition is ready to unleash a torrent of attacks. Some of these will undermine the viability of some churches and other faith-based organizations.
Lindsay learned a lot from his experiences. And today’s churches would do well to think carefully about how to handle the hot issues of our times.
BEFORE THE STORM
- Churches and other faith-based organizations should anticipate a strong opposing response to currently controversial positions. Some opposing voices don’t simply want to be heard; they want to damage those with whom they disagree. Christian organizations need to understand the possible costs of taking various positions.
- Talk with the “other side.” Lindsay said, “It’s so much harder to demonize people when you know them as human beings.”
- Get ahead of it. Talk with your people, fully discuss the issues, and prayerfully establish positions on things that really matter. Know where you stand–and why–before trouble comes.
Wars are messy–including culture wars.