With the revelation that Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church has gay-affirming pastors and ministries and is putting on a conference where almost all the speakers are pro-LGBTQ+, another megachurch has emerged with a similar story.
Saddleback Church, formerly led by Rick Warren and now by Andy Wood, is likewise promoting and partnering with a pro-LGBTQ ministry to offer counseling and resources to parents whose children are struggling with their LGBTQ+ identities.
In September 2023, North point church is hosting a conference hosted by Embracing the Journey (ETJ), a radical pro-LGBTQ+ advocacy group fouded by Greg and Lynn McDonald, members of North Point church. They’re as subversive as they come, painting themselves as non-theological despite all their resources and endorsements being exclusively gay-affirming and routinely partnering with gay-affirming organizations. At this conference, nearly all the speakers are pro-homosexuality, including one man who is “married” to a “husband” and runs a pro-LGBTQ+ organization.
Another speaker at this event is Chris Clark. He is a pastor at Saddleback Church, where he leads Premarital Mentors and Church Counseling Training. Years ago, his daughter came out as transgendered, and in response, he co-founded an ‘Embracing the Journey’ chapter at Saddleback, along with Shauna and Doug Habel.
The Habels are longtime members of Saddleback church. According to their ETJ bio, in 2016, she attended The Reformation Project conference (a prominent pro-LGBTQ+ advocacy group). There “she saw gay Christians studying the Bible and worshipping God. She saw their vibrant faith, despite the pain they faced” and came to believe that homosexuality was not sinful. Like Clark, their daughter came out as a lesbian the following year, and in 2020 they co-founded ETJ with him.
That same year, ETJ became intentional about expanding its reach. According to their Guidestar Profile
“In 2020 Embracing the Journey began work on developing a strategic messaging framework. We developed a new partnership with Saddleback Church and both Saddleback Church and North Point Community Church created a video endorsement for ETJ. We recruited and developed 19 new volunteers in six differennt states. We provided one-on coaching and biblically based counseling to 328 parents from 24 states and 11 countries. We expanded the ETJ parent support groups with 150+ parents participating in 10 small groups. 2020 communications participated in north points Re;Group”
Once parents get plugged into this ministry, they’re told their child can’t change and are counseled to love and affirm them as they are. They’re not told that their kids are perhaps confused or impressionable, or there is hope to have their sexuality shaped and redeemed by the gospel. Instead, the thrust of the messaging is to affirm their identity because ETJ does not believe sexual orientation is changeable and that the power of the Holy Spirit can lean them towards heterosexuality.
Once they’re in ETJ, the trajectory and messaging are clear; there is no such thing as “and such were some of you, but you were washed…”
And Saddleback Church is a part of it.