MINISTERING TO GAYS & LESBIANS

 

 

MINISTERING to GAYS & LESBIANS

 

God wants the Church to reach out to people who struggle with same-sex attractions.  God has said He will seek the lost.  As His people we must be doing the work of our Father as Jesus did.  The Church must take note of the Lord's words: “The diseased and weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the hurt and crippled you have not bandaged, those gone astray you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought to find, but with force and hard-hearted harshness you have ruled them ….. Behold!  Says the Lord God, I Myself will search for My sheep and will seek them out.  I will rescue them out of all the places they are scattered …. I myself will seek that which was lost and I will bring back that which has strayed and I will bandage the hurt and the crippled and will strengthen the weak and the sick.” (Ezekiel 34:4-15 Amp. Bible)

 

Become a Real Friend to the individual seeking freedom from homosexuality.  The person leaving the gay lifestyle has been abandoned by psychology, the entire secular world, and a large segment of the church. The secular world is saying, "Stay as you are.  You were born that way, so stop trying to change and just be yourself," while many in the Church are saying “Change is not possible: all gays are going to hell and there is no hope.”  Oftentimes the person coming out of homosexuality ends up not being accepted or supported by either side.  “Friendship evangelism” is still the best outreach.  Be there for them.  Support and love them.  Your friendship and your testimony of what Christ has done, and allowing the love of God to shine through you, is the most effective tool.  Don't fail to use it.  BE A REAL FRIEND!

 

The church must understand that for the person coming out of homosexuality, everything in their life must change.  The gay lifestyle can be all-consuming.  They must build new associations within the church.  They must come to view church members as a supporting family, affirming and rejoicing in the right choices being made.  Certainly good spiritual times are essential but there must be good social times as well.  The church must help them build a “history in a hurry,” so they will feel connected and valued in their new setting.

 

Don’t think of homosexuality as an unusual struggle.  Realize that every church may have many people struggling with this issue but they are too afraid to share their problems.  Homosexuality reaches deeper and began much earlier than other struggles.  They will have a deeper ingrained mind-set and in most cases, live a double-life.  They attempt to appear as “normal” as possible in the church setting.  The fear of rejection will cause someone struggling with homosexuality to lie about their life and activities.  Thus if you inquire too deeply into their life, they will begin to avoid contact with you. In order to help them, they first must be made to feel safe and comfortable in sharing their difficulties with others.  Stop being embarrassed when talking about homosexuality.  Embarrassment inhibits the sharing and healing process.  You must feel comfortable with the term “homosexuality” so strugglers will be able to find courage to share their problem.

 

When someone shares, do not ignore it: follow up with that person.  One counseling session or sharing session is never enough.  Change is a continuous process: it’s a journey and does not happen overnight.  It takes long-term involvement.  The struggling person may have many friends and strong reinforcement to remain in the gay lifestyle.  Nevertheless, it is a lonely and transient life: friends come and go.  This lifestyle often burns the unwary.  Long-term stable relationships are needed: friends who will be here now and in the future.  Friends who are committed for the long-haul!  This is one thing the church should have an abundance of and the gay lifestyle doesn't.

 

Those struggling with homosexuality need WARMTH.  Often out of fear and ignorance, church members will not interact with gays and lesbians.  However, hugs and handshakes are a major part of the trust and healing process.  Many from the gay communities believe that the Church sees them as “diseased” and undesirable.  There should be no irrational fear of AIDS.  Show them the same affection given to other visitors and new members.  Homosexuals often see the Church as a heterosexual institution where they are not welcomed.  In many ways the heterosexual society has not been their friend.  Thus they are often just as prejudiced against Christians as Christians have been against them.  Church members who show a genuine interest and warmth will do much to counteract fear of rejection or hostile attitudes.  

 

Church members cannot give to the struggling person more than they themselves have received.  They must have a closer walk with Jesus so that they can model Christianity for the person leaving the gay lifestyle. The Church must realize that often time those seeking such change must dedicate themselves to God in a deeper walk than most Christians have experienced.  The seeker must become totally immersed in the life of the church.  Not only must they have a growing personal relationship with the Lord, but they must also learn of the Lord, both through their own investigation and through the spoken Word in their church.

 

Allow the homosexual to come to God, JUST AS THEY ARE.  As the old saying goes, “We don’t get good to get God: we get God to get good.”  We come to the Lord just as we are and then He, and He alone, will do the “changing and fixing” that is needed in our life.  However, not all will want change.  Arguing and debating will serve no positive purpose.  Most gays are already aware their life style is not pleasing to God.  They feel that they are outcasts and rejects from society. They suffer a deep, inner anguish over their situation, but feel hopelessly unable to escape from their lifestyle.  To further criticize and castigate them will only serve to drive them further away.  Generally speaking, gays feel hated and rejected by the Church world.  They need to be convinced that we love them, because if they can't be convinced that we love them, they will never be convinced that Jesus loves them. 

 

Build a trust relationship through mutual sharing.  Share enough of your faults and shortcomings to put them at ease.  Become a good listener.  Limit your advice.  The person coming out of homosexuality does not need to hear the “100 Reasons Why Gays Are Bad” list.  They already know this list, frontward and backward.  In fact, they can add to your list and most likely they are already aware of what the Scriptures have to say about this issue.  Often Christians have used these Scriptures as “weapons.” If they do ask, point them to the passages and allow the individual to read them when they are alone with God.  Otherwise, they simply need to have someone listen as they share their sadness, disappointments and failures.  They need people to be available: people they can call when tempted.  They need someone they trust to offer them a message of HOPE ~ a message that life can be BETTER.

 

Stop expecting ZAP change: change is a process and an ongoing journey.  We must not misrepresent the Christian life to the person struggling with same-sex attractions.  At times we all need to be reminded that perhaps we do not need the thorn in our flesh removed: perhaps what we really need is MORE OF HIS GRACE!  2 Corinthians 12 tells us that “IN MY WEAKNESS HE IS STRONG” and that “HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT!”  It is a long, difficult road and there is a cross to bear.  The peace comes from the assurance that God is in the process and that the end result will be a better life: a new life that is in “right- relationship” with God.  Realize that there is a cost to ministry.  Part of that cost is time and emotions.  There will be times of frustration, irritation and disappointment: calls at inopportune times and perhaps even some embarrassment.  Yet there is also a cost in refusing to do what God directs us to do.

 

Follow the Biblical principles of hospitality.  Invite them to your home or out to eat.  Spend time with them and study God's Word with them.  Help them become well-grounded in Christ and to know how to put their armor on, i.e., how to protect themselves from the enemy.

 

As they have made their way into the Church, allow them some kind of service.  They need to have a sense of belonging in the Body and know they are valued.

 

Many individuals making their way out of homosexuality lack adequate social skills.  They may be withdrawn and fearful.  Go the second mile and give them some special attention, i.e., arrange to have them picked up at their home for church activities, at least for a while.  Introduce them to as many people as possible: pave the way for future relationships.

 

Along this same line, through MENTORSHIP the church can be instrumental in helping those with same-sex attractions become comfortable in their God-given gender roles. Men in the church should realize that some gay men did not have sufficient role-models to help them feel affirmed in their masculinity.  The same applies to the women and femininity.  Rather than ridiculing them for their inabilities, take them under your wings and be a Godly role-model: help to educate these men and women in their areas of need.  The results of this type of mentorship will be amazing.

 

Through it all, change is inevitable when someone is in full cooperation with God.  There is no person alive who is so perverse or damaged that God cannot move in their life if they open themselves up to God and allow Him to do what He wants, when He wants.  Change and transition may at times be painful and much may be required because the “old man must die” before the new can emerge. “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25 NIV)  There will be times when nothing seems to be happening on the outside.  There will be those times when God may be ignoring the surface sexual issues and working on the deeper inner issues such as old hurts, pains, and wounds: issues such as abandonment and rejection, discipline and responsibility, anger, bitterness, resentments, unforgiveness, and a host of other underlying issues connected to the outer surface symptoms.

 

We live in certain anticipation of the Lord's soon return, but while there is still time, there is still hope.  There is no sin that cannot be forgiven, no chains that cannot be loosed and no brokenness that cannot be healed.  We are to be the ambassadors for Christ; an embodiment of His love, given to the task of reconciling ALL sinners to God.  The love of God manifested in you and through you as you worship, sing, and pray will touch sinners.  His Spirit working in you as you reach out to gays and lesbians will affect them as only He can.




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