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?

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One thought on “Some Raw Thoughts on Ministry Formerly Known as Exodus International

  1. I was not introduced to Exodus until relatively recently (within the past few years) so I am not familiar with much of their ex-gay theology and reparative practices. I’ve only ever known Exodus as a resource for hearing stories and support for us “in the same boat.” Of course, this recent announcement has triggered celebration by those who were hurt, discouraged, shamed, or tortured (emotionally, spiritually, etc) in reparative theology practices. And I understand why- individuals with a negative eye toward Exodus are relieved that the “old values” (i.e. Side X) are passing away.

    But I’ve always had sympathy for Alan and what he does. He’s tried to keep up with our developing understanding of how sexuality works, which ultimately affects the practicalities of his ministry. There are testimonies of how Exodus has been harmful, but I doubt it was ever intentionally shame-based (maybe certain individuals in the ministry suffered some repercussions of pain and therefore did shame others, but that’s never been the ministry’s plan of action, mission, or goal.) Critics of Alan have always said he sounds “confused” and “ambiguous” in his public statements of what he believes, but isn’t that cooperative with the fact that sexuality in general is, quite honestly, really complicated? And that there’s still a lot we don’t know? Human functioning/flourishing coinciding with a Biblical approach leaves a lot of potential for error (and historically always has.) We need grace.

    So I don’t think it’s out of the question to have grace toward Alan and Exodus in general, knowing that they’ve always tried their best to stay current to the holistic understanding of sexuality and how that impacts culture. It’s certainly a tragedy that the imperfections of good-hearted individuals caused turmoil for those who had hope for reorientation, and I’m not trying to gloss over those instances. But to say Exodus was a fluke, a mistake, is swinging too far.

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