If you identify as part of the LGBTQ community or you simply want to find a church that is more inclusive and available to your LGBTQ+ friends, you know that it can be a challenge. This is particularly true if you’ve grown up in the Evangelical or Pentecostal faiths and want to continue worshipping in a similar environment. While some Protestant communities have slowly begun to accept people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, the Evangelical church has largely remained stubborn on this issue.
So, if you’re an Evangelical Christian and an LGBTQ ally, you’ve probably asked yourself this question without a good answer: where is an LGBTQ friendly church near me? Typing it into Google may yield a few results, but actually taking the step of visiting a church and praying that you feel comfortable can be daunting. For this reason, many people who feel ostracized by the Church choose to practice their faith at home and forego any kind of community-based worship.
Even if you have visited an “ally” church in your community, you may have been disappointed by the results. Many churches that claim to be open-minded or progressive cannot speak for everyone in their congregation. This often means that you’ll feel comfortable with some people and uncomfortable with others. Either way, a church or faith-based community should never make you feel uncomfortable, or worse, unsafe in your own skin.
So, how can you find a real LGTBQ friendly church? In this guide, we’ll discuss a few tips to help you find the place you’re looking for without putting yourself in difficult or stressful situations.
Search Through Advocacy Organizations
As previously mentioned, Google is not always the best source when trying to find legitimate ally churches. Many churches will pay to push themselves to the top of the search results, even if they don’t provide the best experience to LGBTQ congregants. So, start by contacting groups and organizations that advocate for LGBTQ rights.
For example, larger groups like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD have various resources for LGBTQ+ individuals in need of help. Alternatively, lgbtmap.org is a great place to look for specific locations in your community, including places of worship. The benefit of going through one of these organziations is that it all but guarantees that you won’t have to deal with bigotry or unnecessary discomfort while you search.
Look For Churches With LGBTQ Church Leaders
One of the biggest problems with finding a church that is really LGBTQ friendly is that it’s difficult to guarantee that everyone in attendance will be a real ally. Fortunately, if you pick a church where the pastor or several members of the leadership team are LGBTQ+, it greatly increases the chances that the entire church will be welcoming. After all, anti-LGBTQ people are unlikely to attend a church with LGBTQ leaders!
Seeking out LGBTQ church leaders also makes it much easier to talk directly with leadership about your specific needs and experiences. You may not feel comfortable talking with a non-LGTBQ pastor or worship leader about bad experiences you’ve had in other churches. But if the church leaders have gone through similar experiences, it will make the experience of joining the church much more pleasant.
Research a Church’s Online Presence
While having an online presence is no guarantee of being open-minded, it is evidence that a church is at least trying to exist in the 21st century. Additionally, social media profiles and websites can help you get a better idea of a church’s beliefs and priorities. If you find posts or information that could indicate ultra-conservative messaging, it may be a strong indication that you should look elsewhere.
The comment section is also a useful place to learn more about the congregation. Though you don’t need to research every single member of a church community beforehand, seeing what people have to say online can give you a better idea of how the congregation feels on certain issues. If you want to dig even further, you could find out if there are other active LGTBQ members attending the church.
Reach Out to Candidate Churches Directly
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential church candidates, you’ll want to start reaching out to church’s directly. You can call or shoot a message to find out more about the church and its beliefs. This way, you won’t have to visit the church only to find out that they aren’t quite as “friendly” as you thought. Asking direct questions upfront can help you feel more confident if and when you decide to attend services or other church events in person.
Some churches may not make it easy to contact them without visiting their physical location. Since in-person visits are not always a safe or viable option, you should definitely look for churches that have plenty of ways to talk with a member of the leadership team from a distance. That said, if you have no issues with visiting a church first, it can give you a much better view of the church structure, congregation, and specific ways in which the organization does (or does not) support the LGBTQ+ community.
Try Out a Church Designed For You
Most churches are designed to meet the needs of the vast majority of believers. Sadly, this often excludes LGBTQ individuals. For this reason, you should try to find churches, organizations, and communities that were created with the purpose of bringing together like-minded Christians, with an emphasis on acceptance of people from all walks of life and those excluded by other churches.
If this sounds too good to be true, you’re in luck! God Is For Everyone is an evangelical community of believers with international roots. Since starting in Argentina in 2021, Pastors Matt and Isabella Jones have since relocated to plant roots in the United States. Isabella is a trans woman and a pioneer among LGBTQ believers around the world. Together, Pastors Matt and Bella hope to bring together even more people who have been turned away by more traditional Evangelical churches.
Are you looking for something more? Do you want to enjoy an Evangelical church environment that is LGBTQ friendly? If so, be sure to reach out to God Is For Everyone today to learn more about our mission!
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