What Is Embrace?
Human sexuality is among the most visible discipleship interests of our day. That is why Make and Deepen Disciples is pleased to offer Embrace.
Embrace is a suite of human sexuality discipleship resources and experiences which are in harmony with the adopted position of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), the center of which is "Faithfulness in heterosexual marriage, celibacy in singleness—these constitute the Christian standard."
A special emphasis of Embrace is equipping our church to flourish in love for LGBTQ+/SSA/sexual minority* individuals and communities. Embrace resources will be progressively curated and created by Make and Deepen Disciples.
As we develop Embrace, we hope to receive feedback from diverse voices, especially with regard to existing resources or experiences which you have found to be helpful and effective. Please sign up for our mailing list to receive updates on all things Embrace, and feel free to connect with us any time at email@example.com.
*A note on language: We recognize that in conversations about human sexuality, various constituencies use words and definitions in different ways. Meaning matters, and careless use of language can hinder true communication. In Embrace, we make an effort to curate and create resources that utilize a full range of human sexuality vocabulary interchangeably in order to make space for everyone.
We will regularly feature different resources that have been handpicked by Make and Deepen Disciples. Currently, we are featuring the following two resources produced by the Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender. Remember to sign up for the Embrace mailing list for updates on future featured resources.
People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue
by Preston Sprinkle
In the midst of contemporary debates about homosexuality, Christians are looking for resources that are based solidly on a thorough study of what Scripture says. In People to Be Loved, Dr. Preston Sprinkle takes this deep dive into the Scriptures, rigorously engages with diverse interpretations, and ultimately upholds the validity of the traditional sexual ethic of heterosexual marriage and celibacy in singleness. At the same time, Sprinkle goes deeper. He challenges us with the reality that ultimately homosexuality is not just an issue—it is about people to be loved. Those holding the traditional view of human sexuality must still reconcile the Bible’s prohibition of same-sex relations with the message of the radical, unconditional grace of Jesus Christ. People to Be Loved is a powerful resource that gets us started on the journey.
Grace/Truth 1.0 is a five-week small group learning experience which introduces Christians to LGBTQ+/SSA people, explains language to use and avoid, presents a biblically faithful view of marriage and sexuality, and offers practical guidance on how to embody the love of Christ toward sexual and gender minorities. The accompanying Grace/Truth 1.0 video series is engaging and well-produced, and features the voices and real stories of sexual minority people. As of this writing, Grace/Truth 1.0 is unique in that it is the only comprehensive small group curriculum available to facilitate conversations around faith, human sexuality, and gender identity. It is an excellent resource to utilize for small groups, leadership teams, church staff, and more. Please be sure to see the ECC Supplement below for further recommendations on using Grace/Truth 1.0 in ECC contexts.
The Embrace team has solicited feedback about Grace/Truth 1.0 from a diverse group of Covenant readers. This ECC supplement highlights FAQ and recommendations which have emerged from this feedback and are intended to be helpful for those seeking to utilize this resource within the context of the Evangelical Covenant Church. In addition to this ECC supplement, please be sure to review the Grace/Truth 1.0 small group leader’s guide.
Embrace: Webinar Series
The Embrace Webinar Series is an opportunity to engage in live conversations around human sexuality which will deepen us in understanding and compassion while equipping us with practical tools to love all people well. Previous webinar recordings are available here.
For many years, William Mack has been equipping parents in urban contexts and beyond to engage kids in conversations about sexuality through his workshop entitled Tough Talks: Conversations on Self, Sexuality, and Scripture. The Tough Talks workshop is designed to equip and encourage faith leaders, parents, and youth to create safe, informed spaces for dialogue around the sensitive topics of human sexuality and gender identity. We will engage around some of the key insights from William’s workshop as well as special considerations to be considered when engaging in conversations around human sexuality in urban and/or ethnic contexts. William is founding pastor of Grace Community Covenant Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also a certified sexual health specialist and has led numerous sexual health workshops for the broader community.
What is the relationship between sexuality and discipleship? The church must expand its paradigm of discipleship to include “sexual discipleship”—helping followers of Christ to know what it means to yield every area of life, including sexuality, to the love and lordship of Jesus. Sexual discipleship will only occur when we see how sexuality dovetails with the larger picture of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Join us for a conversation with Juli Slattery, author of Rethinking Sexuality, about how we can freshly engage questions of human sexuality through the paradigm of discipleship.
Embrace: Resource Suite
Make and Deepen Disciples is working to curate and create practical human sexuality discipleship resources that are organized around the three core areas of head, heart, and hands. Below we highlight one key resource that is ready in each of these areas. As Embrace develops, each area will feature an expanded series of recommended resources. Remember to sign up for the Embrace mailing list as we continue to add core resources to this site.
Head | Embrace Understanding
Grow in biblical and theological understanding
by the Biblical Faculty of North Park Theological Seminary
In cooperation with the Make and Deepen Disciples mission priority of the ECC, the biblical faculty of North Park Theological Seminary have endeavored to write a clear, user-friendly commentary and interpretation on the texts of the Bible that explicitly address same-sex sexual relations. This paper also engages with and responds to a number of recent revisionist readings of the biblical texts, ultimately undergirding the traditional sexual ethic of the historic church and the ECC. We are grateful to these Covenant scholars for devoting their time and effort to complete this work for the edification and flourishing of our church.
Heart | Embrace Love
Create safe and compassionate space for relational connection
This 140-page illustrated guide is a treasure trove of practical insights on how to honor God and deeply love the LGBT+ people in your life. It covers a number of topics, including how to:
- Respond well when LGBT+ people come out
- Understand risks LGBT+ youth face (family rejection, bullying, suicidality, and homelessness)
- Avoid using unintentionally offensive words and phrases
- Build a support team for LGBT+ loved ones and their families
- Engage LGBT+ individuals in trusting relationship over the long term
- Devote yourself to prayer that blesses LGBT+ loved ones and yourself
Hands | Embrace Service
Make a difference with and for those who have been sexually marginalized or abused
Rooted in the values expressed in our six Covenant affirmations, the Evangelical Covenant Church has historically sought to find common ground on areas where many Christians have been divided.In light of this heritage, a diverse group of Covenanters (initially spearheaded by Pastor Randall Wilkens) developed a list of suggested ways in which we might find common ground in our ministry with and to LGBTQ+ people. This document is not meant to be an "official" statement or resolution of the ECC, but we do believe that it can serve as a starting point for conversations on how we can all tangibly excel in love for LGBTQ+ people.
Embrace: Live Connections
There is no better way to grow than to engage in live formational experiences with real people. The following are upcoming opportunities to do just that, listed in chronological order. More opportunities will be added as they arise.
Lexington, MA / November 8
Lead Them Home invites you to join us for our Fall 2018 Family Care Seminar!
Our evening workshop is designed to equip, comfort and encourage evangelical families of LGBT+ loved ones. Family acceptance is a critical component to reducing suicidal risk factors for LGBT+ youth and building faith identity into adulthood over the long-term. We help families accomplish this within a biblical framework.
Decatur, IL / November 15-16
Lead Them Home empowers families and churches to love LGBT+ individuals like Jesus does. It offers a biblically sound and missiological approach to living out the Great Commandment to honor God and radically love people. More than 50,000 international, national, regional, and local leaders have experienced Posture Shift, a leading seminar on LGBT+ outreach and pastoral care.
Midwinter Youth Worker Connection (YWC) 2019: Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones
Denver, CO / Monday, January 21
On Monday of the Midwinter 2019 Youth Worker Connection in Denver, Colorado, Bill Henson will join us for an in-depth workshop on his fully updated resource: Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones: Second Edition. This 140-page illustrated guide is a treasure trove of practical insight on how to honor God and deeply love LGBT+ people in your life. Bill Henson is founder and president of Lead Them Home and the creator of the nationally leading Posture Shift Seminar. Bill has trained more than 50,000 Christian leaders and has guided 4,000 families over the last decade.
More information TBA.
Midwinter 2019: Embrace Leaders Forum
Denver, CO / Wednesday, January 23
On Wednesday of Midwinter 2019 in Denver, Colorado, Preston Sprinkle, Michelle Sanchez (Executive Minister of Make and Deepen Disciples), and other presenters will engage in a half-day leaders’ forum to help ECC pastors and leaders engage tough questions about faith, sexuality, and gender with biblical faithfulness and courageous love. The forum will be thoughtful, dialogical, practical, and relational.
More information TBA.
St. Louis, MO / June 2019 (exact dates TBA)
The first-ever Revoice Conference took place in June, 2018 in St. Louis. Revoice is a new ministry which exists to see LGBTQ+/SSA/sexual minority people who adhere to the historic, Christian sexual ethic flourish in their local faith communities. The 2018 presenters and leading authors included Preston Sprinkle, Bill Henson, Wesley Hill, Greg Coles, Eve Tushnet, and Nate Collins.
Here we will compile recommended resources that promote overall wellness and healing in a number of areas related to sexuality. Potential topics to be engaged include sexual abuse, sexual harassment, divorce care, and freedom from pornography, among others. As an initial resource, Make and Deepen Disciples recommends:
Sexual brokenness permeates our culture and has found its way into the church. Even though Christians are called to value and celebrate sexuality as sacred and good, it is often a source of fear, shame, or secret sin. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Healthy sexuality concerns what we pursue, not just what we avoid, so Redeemed Sexuality invites emerging adults to seek sexual maturity and discipleship in the context of community. As we experience love, joy, and intimacy with God and others, sexual shame and sin lose their power, and we move further in our journey toward the wellness and flourishing that God intended.
Generational differences are real and require contextualized discipleship approaches—perhaps especially when it comes to human sexuality and issues of gender identity in today’s rapidly changing culture. Embrace will seek to provide resources that are especially tailored for youth and/or those who love and minister to them. To start, Make and Deepen Disciples recommends:
Understanding Sexual Identity: A Resource for Youth Ministry
by Mark Yarhouse
This resource is a practical, compassionate explanation of how teens form their sexual identity in today’s culture. Yarhouse introduces readers to the developmental considerations in the formation of sexual identity which primarily occurs during the teen years. He offers practical ways to think about homosexuality along with suggestions for talking with people who experience same-sex attraction. He also helps us learn to graciously respond to children and teens who struggle with questions of sexual identity and discusses how youth ministry can become more relevant in the lives of youth who are navigating these issues. Pastors, youth ministry volunteers, and parents will understand how to help youth navigate today’s culture and form a sexual identity that honors Jesus Christ.
Symposium: Traditional Biblical Sexuality in a Changing Youth Culture
A Week long Symposium for Youth Pastors, Parents, & Youth Workers
January 7-11, 2019
at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Hamilton MA
As debates about human sexuality dominate classrooms, coffee shops, and social media, youth ministers committed to a traditional Biblical ethic may struggle to find their voice. Some may wonder if there is a safe space in which to form a theologically informed and nuanced approach to these charged and complex issues. Join Dr. Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent Youth Understanding and Dr. Duffy Robbins of Grove City College for an intensive multi-day symposium to deepen your own Biblical and theological foundations, to broaden your apologetic for affirming the goodness of expressing sexual intimacy within the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman, and to strengthen your pastoral skills in helping youth live out these truths.
We Want to Hear From You...
As we develop Embrace, we hope to receive feedback from diverse voices, especially with regard to existing resources or experiences which you have found to be helpful and effective. Feel free to connect with us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please sign up to learn more, be informed of future webinars, and sign up for more Embrace updates.