Church/Denominational Consultant & Lecturer on LGBT Issues
Providing confidentiality, a respectful space, insight and relevant information for church leaders and denominations seeking greater understanding about homosexuality and the LGBT community.
Globally and for some decades, the church has been grappling with the issue of homosexuality, welcoming LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people into congregations, understanding their relationships and their place in the church. Some however are just beginning the journey.
Recent surveys reflect a shift, not only in attitude towards, but also in understanding of same-sex-oriented people in mainline, evangelical and pentecostal congregations. The world is changing and so is the church.
Evangelical author Andrew Marin said in his groundbreaking book, Love is an Orientation, ' Every stereotype can be broken with a face, and every face has a story. Even leaders in both the LGBT and Christian communities say they know something needs to change – but nothing is changing because we've all been conditioned to dig in and fight. So where do we go from here?
Pastor Brian Houston, former president of the Australian Christian Churches and senior pastor of Hillsong, said in his 2008 statement, Issues of Sexuality & Sexual Expression, ‘This (issue of sexuality) is a global challenge that most of the world’s churches are grappling with, and we, like them, are trying to balance theology with compassion. We do not profess to have all the answers, nor has the church worldwide always got it right, and we, like them, are trying to balance theology with compassion’
Preconceived ideas, misinformation and judgement have contributed to polarisation instead of resolution. Wrongs have occurred on both sides of the debate. The extreme views and actions of some, who feel they have the right to speak on behalf of Christianity, have brought disrepute to the church of Jesus Christ.
Until fairly recently the words ‘gay’ and ‘Christian’ were seen as contradictory. The Gay Christian movement was birthed in a lounge room in Los Angeles in 1968 and functioned for some time mostly outside the boundaries of traditional Christianity. Through web-based ministries there are now 10,000’s of Gay Christians who have reconciled their faith and their sexuality and many straight Christians who have shifted in attitude and understanding. the number of mainstream churches and denominations who welcome and affirm LGBT people is growing exponentially and over the last three decades expanded to over 90 different denominations across 46 countries. Some have called this the Rainbow Revival and it is not unlike the Jesus Revolution of the 60's; a movement of the Holy Spirit outside the walls of Church.
Why make the gay issue a priority
If you are not sure if you should make this a priority in your church you will find four good reasons here
- The Churches witness to the LGBT community
- The Churches witness in world
- Ensuring our Churches are places of safety and not harm for LGBT people
- The one sheep principle
A Way Forward
Modern Church history reveals the damage that occurs when those who seek to reach a new group with the gospel are not informed of the history, culture or language of the people. Just as it is with taking the gospel to a foreign mission field so it is when we seek to reach out to the LGBT community. Negotiating these uncharted waters successfully requires education, wisdom and sensitivity.
Churches and denominations questioning traditionally held beliefs and seeking to move to a place of welcoming LGBT Christians and engaging with LGBT people or the community need assistance to ensure the dialogue is not highjacked by conservatives and that polarisation is minimised in the church or denomination. Safe and respectful spaces need to be created to accommodate all people as we embark on this journey together.
This needs to happen at different levels: (You decide which levels you’d like me to work with and how).
- Denominational leadership
- Local church pastoral teams
- Local church leaders
- Individual congregations
- Christian organisations and ministries
- Christian training and educational institutions
Areas of consideration include: (topics covered are mutually agreed upon depending on needs)
- Gay 101 (LGBTTIQQSAGDTS) – what's it all mean?
- Understanding the dynamics ‘How we got it wrong about homosexuality’
- Appropriate language and terminology when engaging with LGBT people and the community (e.g. when to use or not use LGBT, homosexual, gay or lesbian, sexual orientation/attraction/preference, lifestyle, transgender or transsexual)
- What a safe space means and how to create it
- Welcoming, accepting and affirming – what are the differences
- How to minimise polarisation in your congregation/denomination
- How to transition your congregation/denomination
- Defining issues of morality and relationships
- A biblical basis for welcoming and accepting LGBT people
- Correct church/denominational documentation and policy ensures everyone knows where they stand
- Understanding the LGBT community – history and culture. Stonewall to today.
- Gay men and lesbians are not a homogenous unit – what are the differences?
- Deconstructing myths about gay and lesbian people and the community
- What is the latest research on sexual orientation - nature or nurture?
- Specific issues faced by LGBT people and how to address them
- Pastoral care and working effectively with damaged gay and lesbian people
- Ten specific issues straight Christians, welcoming churches and denominations will face.
A variety of services are provided:
1. Leadership meetings and consultations
2. One on one meetings with key personnel
3. Participation in forums or conferences
5. Speaking at training/educational facilities
7. Assisting with policy, documentation and media to ensure appropriate wording is used and messages clear
Depending on where you are on this journey as an individual, church or denomination, it is important to first assess the specific needs of your situation and then custom design the program that will be of optimum benefit. Agreed levels of privacy and confidentiality are always maintained.
For further information please contact:
Author – Speaker – LGBT Consultant - Coach (ACC ICF)
T: +61 (0)2 9699 2448
M: +61 (0)416 015 231
Anthony Venn-Brown is a pioneer, leader and educator on the number one issue facing Christians today; faith and sexuality. Anthony has an ability to work wisely with the tensions at this critical cross-road in the life of the Australian Church and his approach has been welcomed not only in the Church but also the LGBT community. His unique insights are showing us a new way forward. Anthony's professionalism, compassion, and courage have always impressed me.
Rev Michael Hercock: Imagine Baptist Church – Darlinghurst
I can highly recommend Anthony Venn-Brown from Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International. Speaking on the emotionally charged topic of homosexuality in a Bible College setting is not an easy task! However, Anthony handled himself with humility and authenticity -- and without the slightest hint of defensiveness or judgment. Anthony has the unique ability to open up avenues of dialogue and honest conversations in even the most hostile situations, all the while responding to students with respect and a self-depreciating humour. He truly is a ‘bridge builder’ within the kingdom of God.
Lynn Moresi (Adjunct Lecturer - Tabor Victoria)
I have known and respected Anthony Venn-Brown for several years, and would highly commend him as a man of integrity, who has done the relevant research, is an excellent communicator, and, especially in this area, has 'been there'...
Rev. Dr. Rowland Croucher: John Mark Ministries
"The issue of LGBTI people is one of the most serious issues facing the modern-day church. Right now it appears that much of the church and the gay community have dug down into opposite trenches and are taking shots at each other. I propose a ceasefire - and I believe the church needs to take the initiative on this. It's time for peace talks, getting to know people rather than dealing with issues from a place of distant ignorance. Anthony Venn-Brown has a great deal of experience and insight that can help you at least begin a journey of understanding, compassion and grace."
Rob Buckingham, Senior Minister, Bayside Church, Melbourne
Anthony Venn-Brown - Background
Anthony Venn-Brown is well equipped to assist church leaders, congregations and denominations having lived and worked extensively in both the Christian and LGBT worlds. He is an ambassador (not a gay activist) for his community who seeks to serve the church to gain greater understanding. Anthony always provides a comfortable and respectful space where people can ask the often-unasked questions. Anthony is increasingly being called upon by denominations, churches and bible colleges to educate, inform and assist developing strategies that make mission and transformation more effective.
1992 - present
- One of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award
- Voted one of The 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians 2007 & 2009
- Anthony’s bestselling autobiography ‘A Life of Unlearning- a journey to find the truth’ has won several awards and soon to be released in its third edition
- Co-founder of Freedom 2 b[e], Australia’s largest network of LGBT for people from Christian backgrounds
- Presented at Gay Christian conferences in the USA and UK
- Worked with 100’s of individuals to resolve the perceived conflict of their faith and/or their sexuality
- Assisted with bridge building projects such as ‘The 100 Revs’ and the ‘Walking Between Worlds’ photographic exhibition
- Worked extensively with people in mixed orientation marriages and ‘ex-gay’ survivors
- Board member of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association and volunteered for a number of LGBT community organisations such as the Aids Council of NSW (ACON)
- Created a model for respectful dialogue Creating a Space for Change
1972 – 1991
- Ordained Assemblies of God minister; pioneered several churches
- Founded Youth Alive NSW and the Australian Evangelists Association
- Organised and led study tours to cutting edge churches in the USA
- Crossed denominational barriers and was the first Pentecostal appointed to the Lausanne Congress for World Evangelization Australian Board
- Founder and Director of Every Believer Evangelism involved in equipping individuals and churches in the areas of evangelism through training and crusades
- Evangelist, conference speaker and popular preacher in the mega churches of Australia as well as overseas
- Influenced paradigm shifts within the Assemblies of God that contributed to denominational growth