Some Raw Thoughts on Ministry Formerly Known as Exodus International

Last night I wrote a brief post addressing Exodus International President Alan Chambers’s apology to the LGBTQ community concerning the work of Exodus International.

Literally two minutes after I posted my blog, Exodus issued a press release stating they intended to close their doors and the leadership is establishing a new work known as Reduce Fear.

My initial reaction was simply, “Wow.” And that has been echoed across my social media feeds by people from all perspectives.

But as I watched Alan’s opening statements from the Freedom Conference last night, and I started processing exactly what was happening, I began having very conflicted emotions.

This is a little bit of public processing, but I hope it may start a dialogue about the statements made and the changes occurring. I also hope it gives those who aren’t celebrating the changes at Exodus permission to express their equally real feelings and know they are heard and validated.

Dear Exodus International Board Member Mr. Tony Moore, when you say, “We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, BUT…”
the “but” negates the ways God used Exodus positively.

Yes, there are those who have had horrific experiences in Exodus affiliated ministries. That occurs in EVERY ministry, in every church, b/c we are broken people ministering to broken people.

It’s sort of like saying, “I don’t mean to be hateful, but…” and then unleashing a torrent of vitriol toward a person or organization. Yes, you did mean to be hateful.

And yes, you did imply God’s work was negated by your apology.

There are those of us who met the Jesus of mercy, grace, forgiveness, freedom, and love in the people who ministered with Exodus, and the apologies issued in the last couple of days ring with the implication that our positive experiences were a fluke or a mistake.

Is that what you believe now? Are lives transformed but the Gospel heard through Exodus ministries simply people deceived? If we wait it out, are we going to finally accept we really are gay and God’s ok with it? Do we need to begin embracing who we really are and the “fact” God loves us where and how we are?

You’re caving to those who came to Exodus looking for one thing or were promised something that wasn’t delivered. What about those of us who came to Exodus just looking for Jesus and found Him?

Were there problems? Yes. Did some things need to change? Absolutely. But to shut down 37 years of ministry seems reactionary and short sighted.

Mr. Chambers stated that the purpose of the new work, Reduce Fear, is to “come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”

Has that not been the goal of Exodus all along? It has been since my first experience with an Exodus affiliated ministry in 2005.

Sometimes a name can carry so much baggage that a name change is most beneficial to the work being accomplished, but there is more going on here than a simple name change. There is a shift in focus, purpose, and doctrine that saddens me.

There is no hope in surrender to anything other than Christ, and last night’s announcement feels like a cultural surrender for those of us who only found freedom and love in the hard, painful, complete surrender to Christ.

Can joyous freedom and fleshly attraction not co-exist simultaneously in the human heart? Does the presence of temptation negate the Holy Spirit’s strong work in enabling us to resist those temptations?

What exactly are you saying about God, sin and homosexuality, Exodus/Reduce Fear?

To Know And To Be Known

In the next couple of weeks I have the incredible blessing of reconnecting in person with two of my dearest friends and favorite people on the planet. One lives in New York City. The other in Southern California. Both of them I have known nearly half my life,yet I have seen neither of them face to face in years.

But I know that there will be no awkward silence in our times together. I doubt there will be much silence at all! There is much to catch up on, much to share, and there is life to be lived; two moments that I anticipate will be memories that last a lifetime.

Do you have friends like that? Friends who know you better than you’re really comfortable with, because they know your best AND your worst?

The idea of being in relationships like that used to terrify me, because the idea of revealing weakness or imperfection terrified me.

But in the last few years, I’ve begun to see how God created us with an inherent desire to both know and be known. As He is in relationship, both in Himself as the Trinitarian God, and with His creation, we are created in His image to also be in relationship with Him and with others. And, I have learned, to know and to be known is the only true way in which to extend and to experience grace.

Only when we are known at our deepest levels, when we are transparent enough to bear our souls and risk rejection, do we also open ourselves up to receive the most genuine act of love; to know someone and love them anyway.

This is why I am so excited about reuniting with these friends; they know me, and that no longer scares me. I can be myself and that is celebrated, not critiqued, examined or judged. Just loved and challenged and encouraged.

Who are the people in your life who love you in spite of yourself? Who are the people you love in that same way?

In other words, with whom are you practicing the love of Christ?

When the Benefit Outweighs the Cost

My parents have lived in the same subdivision for nearly 17 years. I’ve been running in that neighborhood for nearly 17 years, and I’ve been running practically the same route the entire time. It’s predictable, challenging (but not too much), has several little dead end streets you can add for extra elevation, time, and distance.

It’s a good, mindless route.

At least it used to be.

Since moving back to cut expenses while I finish school, this route has been physically more challenging than it used to be. In fact, I haven’t even been able to run the entire route. I stall out at about the same place every time. I thought it was just b/c of being older, or trying to get back into shape.

But it hasn’t gotten any easier, even though I can run farther and faster other places, and lately I began to realize why. It’s not any more physically challenging than it ever has been, but one particular part of my old route has dredged up particularly painful memories, some nearly a decade old, some fresh, in the last few months.

My stall outs haven’t been physical, they’ve been psychological. They’ve occurred when I’ve gotten distracted with the “whys” and the “what ifs” attached to the houses I pass. Instead of running being a time when I clear my mind, refocus on God, commune with Him, my running became a time of reflecting on the past and regretting much of it. It literally weighed me down til I had to walk.

And today, I just couldn’t do it. This part of my run is nearly a mile, and it’s relatively flat, but I couldn’t do it. But I had four miles to run, so I had to do something.

So I chose another route.

And not only did I run it, I hit an elevation PR. Pretty cool.


To some, that may seem like the obvious thing to do, but how many times to we do that in our own lives, in relationships or other issues?

How often do we find ourselves limping down the same painful road over and over again when all we have to do is pick a different path?

The new path I picked today was hard. There’s a steep elevation, right in the middle. But I’ll tell you one thing:

The temporary pain of the new uphill challenge far outweighed the familiarity of the old, downhill pain.

I know that old route will always be there, and one day, when those emotional wounds have healed, I can run it again. But in order to leave that old route and go a new way, I had to get to the point at which the benefit of facing a new challenge outweighed the pain of constantly reopening old wounds.

So how does that relate to our spiritual and relational lives?

When we’re “trapped” in a spiritual rut or an unhealthy relationship or other situation, what stops us from taking the challenge of trying another route?

Is the same old pain and heartache at least familiar, and we’re not willing to risk that a new challenge may be even more painful?

Remember this: “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” The new challenges we face with Christ can be difficult; but we will never face them alone.

Sometimes, all it takes to break free from a long term cycle of pain is to just pick a new path.

Which path will you pick today?