January 24, 2009

Serving Together on Common Ground

"We don't necessarily agree with their choices, because that's not part of our faith, but we still love them."

Oh oh, this line is usually followed by some serious gay-bashing from Christian groups.

Not this time, however. In this story from Christianity Today, a chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ International is preparing to work with a gay-lesbian group at the University of Central Florida to launch an HIV/AIDS outreach effort:

Josh Spavin knows the stereotypes about evangelical Christians: judgmental, sanctimonious, narrow-minded. He may not buy into the image, but at the same time, he knows how real — and damaging — it can be.

So that's why Spavin, a recent graduate of the University of Central Florida and an intern with the UCF chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ International, wants to launch an HIV/AIDS outreach with a campus gay-lesbian group.

"Because of the way they perceive us," said Spavin, 25. "What we wanted to do is find common ground where we can serve along side with them. … We don't necessarily agree with their choices, because that's not part of our faith, but we still love them."

Campus Crusade — an organization that once denounced rock music only to later embrace it — is once again changing with the times, engaging potential new Christians through social issues that perhaps seemed taboo in the past. Unofficially nicknamed "Good News, Good Deeds," the initiative at UCF, and others like it, is a ground-up effort by one of the nation's largest evangelical groups.

It also provides a peek at what issues young evangelicals see as important, and how they are changing a faith they inherited from their parents, but sometimes chafe against.

"Young evangelicals in particular are very conscious about poverty and the environment, and they tend to be more tolerant on issues such as gay rights and homosexuality," said John Turner, assistant professor of history at the University of South Alabama and author of the new book, Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America.

"Evangelicals and evangelical organizations, they do have a big public relations problem of being known for intolerance or homophobia or not being concerned enough about social issues, and I think their desire is to correct that image," he said.

The best way to change the image of a group is to change its actions. Talking about acceptance and love is one thing, but rolling up sleeves to work on areas of common ground actually has substance. No rational person wants someone else to suffer from AIDS and that area should be fertle ground for Christians across denominations to work together with GLBT groups.

Working together can brning understanding to both groups about the other, and understanding can foster reconciliation and acceptance.

That sure sounds a lot more Christlike to me than gay bashing.

Click here to read the rest of the Christianity Today article.


  1. That is a welcome change. I had a friend who was extremely active in Campus Crusade and she basically wrote me off when she found out that I was gay. It was really disheartening from someone that I cared about so much.

  2. Sharone,

    I am so sorry to hear stories like this and is exactly why we want to be the change at UCF. People like your friend may have never actually meet or encountered the Jesus that I know. That man is warm and consumed by love. I know how much it hurts to be judged by my actions so in the place of your very confused friend I say with a deepest emotion please forgive me. I say me because I am called to represent this Christ that I know so well (Ephesians 3:7-8). I hope that one day you have the opportunity to forgive your friend for being so cold and uncaring. Until then I pray that you find better friends that love you for who you are. Also, that you not judge Christ by the hypercritical actions of this or any person but that you can find the true love of Christ.

    Joshua Spavin