Today, I got the opportunity to be on The Simply Youth Ministry Show. We got an email about a youth worker who had parents come and tell him that their son is gay. While this topic deserves more than 12 minutes, we took it on. I thought I would elaborate more on the topic.
Popular opinion says it’s OK and to each its own and the only people that are speaking out loud in opposition are the people who are screaming God hates gays. Which is completely untrue. I believe that as culture continues to push embracing this life style as the norm, you will have a lot more students with questions. We need to talk about it.
I’ve had enough conversations to know that there is no easy solution when dealing with students who struggle with homosexuality because every situation is different. However, I do believe there is a framework that can help you best support and mentor students. As you tackle this hot topic, here are a few things that have helped me tremendously as I support and mentor students in this area.
Knowing the views of your church – If you haven’t had a conversation with your pastor, elders or who ever does pastoral care with the adults in your church, you need to do it. It will give you confidence in caring for students when you know the church has your back and supports you. If you find out that you don’t agree on some things in this area, at least you know where you stand and can start working towards a resolution. You can also collaborate on a plan on how to best support students. You don’t have to do it on your own. How you handle this topic is a really big deal. Remember, since you represent your church, how you minister to gay teenagers needs to reflect your church’s views on the subject. Inconsistency will only cause confusion in an already tough to navigate situation.
Educate yourself – It’s one thing to know the scriptures stating that homosexuality is wrong; it’s another thing to support someone and mentor someone who is struggling with it in their life. You must know more about it than just what Leviticus says when it comes to mentoring and supporting students who are struggling or questioning their sexuality. Read up on both sides of the topic. Simply Youth Ministry has a new resource written by Shawn Harrison Ministering to gay teenagers. There is a free sample of the book you can read and check it out. There are plenty of websites and articles that are pushing a popular opinion driven agenda that you can read up on. You need to know what they are hearing from culture concerning homosexuality. Just as important, you must know what the bible says about it. So do some research because students need to know you care and the more you know the more you are able to be passionate about reaching out and supporting them.
Allow God’s word to guide you – There is a bible verse that speaks to how we should approach sharing the truth of God’s word. Ephesians 4:15 talks about speaking the truth in love. Paul is saying we as believers must do two things. One, we must always speak the truth. We are not called to sugar coat it or hide it in some politically correct lingo. We are to speak the truth of God’s word. With that being said, we must also handle God’s word of truth correctly (2 Timothy 2:15), so that we don’t speak truth in a way that misrepresents God’s position. Secondly, We are also called to speak the truth in love. That means:
- The truth I speak should affirm God’s love for all, spite the decisions we make. The one question I get from all the students I’ve dealt with concerning this topic is “does God hate me”. So I stress (Romans 8:38,39) because they need to know that God’s love isn’t based on what we do or who we are, but it’s based solely on who He is. They need to know the difference between God’s love and God’s approval. Most of the time we as humans (because of our experiences) think love and approval are synonyms but they’re not. Once you get an understanding of that, than you can begin to understand how God can love the sinner completely and passionately and hate the sin.
- My language and continence in speaking the truth should scream that I need the same love everyone else needs. It should scream that I’m telling them something I need to take heed to myself. It should scream that we are all broken and apart from God we can do nothing good (John 15:5).
- The truth I speak should be motivated by the fact that Jesus Christ came to save the world, not condemn it. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 really speaks to how the truth should be shared. We do more damage to people in the church when we pay more attention to the truth part and forget about the way God said to deliver it. Love must be the conduit in which truth is distributed.
I hope this gives you some type of direction and if nothing else something to talk about in your next staff/leader/volunteer meeting. Allow God to put a burden on your heart for these students if you don’t have one already.
If you need someone to talk some things through regarding the topic, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Praying for you all!!!
hope it helps