On Being Truly Inclusive: A Q&A with Brandan Robertson
Theologian, activist, and pastor Brandan Robertson defines the concept of “true inclusion” as the radical embracing and incorporating of all people, in all of their diversity, into every aspect of our lives, families, communities, and societies.
What can churches do right now to be truly inclusive?
Roberston sat down with Chalice Press to delve deeper into what he means by true inclusion.
What does truly inclusive mean to you? How is it different from "open & affirming" or “welcoming"?
ROBERTSON: Too many churches believe that if they announce that they're inclusive, or change their theology, that all of the sudden they have achieved "inclusion". But true inclusion calls us to continue to lean in to the reality of intersectional justice and inclusion. If your church is inclusive of the LGBTQIA community but doesn't actively engage in racial and gender justice, you're not inclusive. It's a consistent call to leaning in to Christ's command to make space at the table for all those who are being oppressed and marginalized in the church and society.
It's both a posture from the leadership and part of the ethos of the environment. Churches need to be getting out of their church buildings and into places that are uncomfortable, where folks on the margins live and do life. We need to be seeking to meet the needs of these communities, to come along side them and uplift their voices and causes, instead of seeking to get them to come to our churches. The goal of the church is not ultimately to build the church numerically on Sunday mornings, but to build the amount of people we are partnering with, uplifting, and working to bring the Kingdom of God- the more just and generous world that God desires. The key is that you can't just "be more inclusive" today- it’s a process, a systemic change, a transformation of how you do ministry and think of your posture in the world. Why did you write this book?
Because I became deeply concerned in my work as a consultant to churches who were seeking to become LGBTQIA inclusive, but then ended their inclusivity there and believed they should be praised for their "progressiveness" and their inclusivity. But true, biblical inclusion is intersectional- it recognizes how all oppression is interconnected and how Christ's true call is to creating a radically inclusive new reality. This book is a call and critique of "inclusive" churches- especially in the mainline- to wake up from their slumber and embrace the radical inclusion imperative of the gospel.
What do you hope people take away from your book?
A call and conviction to lean into the challenge of always examining the ways they and their community are ignoring and seek to become allies to them, and allowing them to flourish in a community of faith, even if it causes us to transform our posture and aims in ministry.
Order your copies of True Inclusion today and help your community take their next step in the conversation. Available in 5-and 10-book discounted bundles with a free downloadable study guide for deeper reflection and discussion.
Brandan Robertson is the lead pastor at Missiongathering Christian Church in San Diego, CA and the author or contributing author to six books, including Nomad: A Spirituality For Travelling Light (DLT Books, 2016) and Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians (DLT Books, 2017). Acclaimed as one of "the most hope-inspiring young Christian leaders," Brandan speaks to diverse audiences around the globe and has been an honored guest speaker at a wide range of venues, from the White House to the Parliament of the World's Religions.