It happened again this weekend. I was at an event at which there were a lot of LGBTA people (A for Allies). I was talking to a guy late in the day and he mentioned that he had lived "north of the river," near where our church, Abiding Peace, used to be located.
He said he never came to our church, but he knew about us. Then he said that he used to drive by Abiding Peace and feel so grateful that we were there, with our rainbow fish on the sign and our lesbian pastor. "It made me feel like I wasn't the only one up there--like I wasn't alone."
He was visibly moved, telling me this. I was moved hearing it. It doesn't matter how many times someone tells me how important it is for Abiding Peace to be "out there," I still sometimes forget. I fall into that church trap of measuring effective ministry by numbers of persons in seats on Sunday morning. I need to be reminded that Abiding Peace does ministry by existing, by sticking rainbows on our signs and having the audacity to suggest (publicly!) that God loves and values everyone.
I hope soon there will be a time when you don't have to drive by certain churches to have that message reinforced. But until that time comes, we'll just keep on doing our ministry of existence, so that no one has to feel like "the only one."