However, there was an implication in the article that this would fix all that is wrong with the evangelical church. I contend that it will not cause millenials to come pouring back in, convince everyone to behave in line with every moral teaching of the church, or otherwise heal the gaping wound in US society. Neither will glossy flyers, snappy logos, slick slogans, or flashy PowerPoint.
The answers are complicated, but I will do my best to explain succinctly.
The ways gays are treated is symptomatic of a larger problem. On the continuum of mercy and justice (or grace and punishment), the church has swung very far in favor of justice in many cases. In the case of same sex marriage, this has led to a dogmatic insistence that gays cannot be married by their ministers. Many people refuse to even consider the situation or truly learn about the relationship before passing judgment.
But this is not the case only for gays. I have heard similar reactions for people getting divorced. For that matter, the attitude about sex outside of marriage generally seems to be an all or nothing proposition. Either people (especially girls) wait until marriage, or they are shamed and judged, told that they are dirty and ruined.
Let me be clear. I am not saying that it is the church's job to look the other way or condone all sin. But, as Relient K once so aptly said, the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair. Or if you want even more authority, look to Jesus' instruction that he who is perfect should cast the first stone. This is followed - followed - by an admonition to the woman to go and sin no more. No shame. Just love, and direction to move forward in grace humbly striving to be more like him the next time.
I could list many more factors that I've seen in churches, but I think issues of honesty and authentic community stem from having a balance of mercy and justice. When people know that others will try to understand and support better choices, they open up. They feel that they belong. When we follow the greatest commandment (to love the Lord and to love our neighbors), we tolerate different viewpoints (particularly those on tertiary doctrine) and are willing to examine what our religious text and church history actually mean, rather than repeating interpretations that haven't changed significantly since childhood Sunday school, because we value others and want to grow.
I have had to examine my beliefs and consider whether the way I was treating the gay community was consistent with the life of Jesus. When I found that it was not, I also realized that there were a bunch of other people I wasn't loving very well either (as discussed in previous posts, I will never claim to be perfect now).
What happened when I moved away from justice toward mercy? People opened up to me. I believe that this is because many of them want someone who will not throw stones, but who believes that there is grace to go and sin no more.