A common misconception that we hear is that Church Clarity is advocating for one theological position over another, or that our goal is to “call out” churches for having non-affirming or non-egalitarian policies. While the critique that we are “shaming” churches by simply publishing the evidence we have of their actively enforced policies is fascinating, it is also quite inaccurate.
Church Clarity has always advocated for one thing: That Churches everywhere should be explicitly clear about what their LGBTQ polices and Women in Leadership policies are. That’s it.
But what about the congregations who are still figuring out what they believe about LGBTQ identities and officiating same-gender weddings, or the churches still trying to figure out how and if women can serve in their congregations? And to that concern, we have the same response:
Clarity is Reasonable.
Just be clear about the fact that you’re figuring it out. That IS being clear. The best part? We’ve already got a score for that: Actively Discerning.
We have had this score since Day 1. Actively Discerning is the score for identifying churches who are openly and proactively contemplating their actively enforced policies. Publicly acknowledging that their church is beginning this process *is* delivering clarity to the public. Being “Actively Discerning” doesn’t necessarily mean that a church believes one thing over another. It means that a church is currently and intentionally deliberating on what the beliefs of the community are, and/or how they should be implemented and practiced through policy. Furthermore, Actively Discerning does NOT mean that we expect the church to land in either theological camp, nor is it designed to provide false hope to folks who have their own theological convictions and are looking for a congregation who shares those has as well.
By sharing this information about a church’s discernment process, would-be parishioners who may be affected by LGBTQ policies and Women in Leadership policies can choose whether or not to engage with a congregation, knowing that the final outcome is yet to be determined.
We recognize that providing the option for churches to elect an Actively Discerning status does have a high potential for abuse. Churches who do not wish to disclose their actively enforced policy or want to seem more affirming than they actually are could choose this option while never actually engaging in a formal process of discernment with their congregation or leadership teams.
This is still called lying.
As such, we only grant this score as a temporary placeholder. A church can only declare it is "Actively Discerning" if it publicly commits to delivering clarity within a reasonable, specific deadline. Currently that timeline requirement is 12 months. This specificity helps hold churches accountable to their word and allows everyone to move forward with more Clarity and assurance that a congregation will not sit in ambiguity for the sake of personal convenience.
We are excited about the potential this option offers church leaders and we are always available as a resource to actively discerning churches. We believe by identifying ambiguity as a fundamental source of harm, we can collectively encourage more churches to aspire for clarity, regardless of their convictions. And, by shining a light on the reality of how policies change and how they are clarified, we hope to create a greater sense of understanding among church attenders for churches uniquely trying to navigate a rapidly changing world.
If you are a church who is looking to be scored as Actively Discerning, please email us for additional information.