Starting a Ministry for Gay People

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It’s a question I get asked a lot from church leaders and those wanting to start a ministry for gay individuals. So, here’s my quick and easy answer: the first step in creating a ministry for people with same-sex attractions is to not create a ministry for people with same-sex attractions.

Wait, what?!

While your ministry idea may be one built with great intentions, it is one with a wrong focus. In the church, we love to put people and issues into boxes, because we think we need to deal with things individually rather than collectively. And in some cases this may be necessary, but not with all things. I think when this happens we begin to really hinder biblical community from actually happening. While the Epistle writers spoke about individual issues, they mostly spoke to the collective group about specific things, so the whole body could help one another grow in Christ Jesus. I love Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:25-26, “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

Though we are individuals, we are the Body of Christ. There is no “us and them,” rather “us” living together for Him. When it comes to ministry, I feel this is incredibly important to keep in mind, especially when talking about ministry to gay and lesbian individuals.

Take an already “outside” group, put them into their own ministry (bible studies, small groups, etc) and what do you have? An “outside” group who feels even more “outside.”

While a bible study can be separated according to sex, it doesn’t need to be separated by sexual orientation. Same goes for small groups.

The point of bible study, small groups, and ministry in general, is not to “change one’s behavior” but to allow the Spirit to transform individuals into the image of Christ. This cannot happen apart from community.

I love the story of Lazarus being raised in John eleven. Lazarus has been dead for three days, when Jesus comes to raise him back to life. As Lazarus comes out of the grave, he’s still in the burial wrappings, and his smell is not the most pleasant. There’s probably some awkwardness mixed with the amazement, as Lazarus stands there with everyone watching him, fully alive but trapped under the grave-clothes. Jesus looks at some guys and says, “Go unwrap him.”

Jesus understands that Lazarus cannot get out of the wrappings himself, and He doesn’t expect Lazarus to do so. Instead, Jesus expects friends to unwrap Lazarus. Jesus expects them to get close and personal to the former-dead-guy, and his decaying-body-smell, in order to help Lazarus get free from the things that hold him bound.

Helping people with their mess of life stinks sometimes. But as followers of Christ, who came willingly into our stench, we are called to come alongside other people, willing to do whatever is needed to help free them from what binds them.

There are many things gay individuals can learn from straight people, just as there are many things straight individuals can learn from gay people. Married couples have a lot to offer singles, and vise versa. Age groups shouldn’t be a hinderance either, as all ages need to learn from each other. How can this happen if they are not within a group together? How can this happen if there is not space created for relationships to start and grow? How can this happen if everyone is divided up into their own small groups, learning how to be the church while separated from the church?

Gays and lesbians don’t need their own ministries or small groups. What they need is to be included into the already established ministries of the church they already attend.

Just some thoughts and questions to think about the next time you ask, “How do I start a ministry for gay people within my church?”

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10 responses to “Starting a Ministry for Gay People

  1. I agree and don’t agree. Yes, I understand about allowing gays in “established ministries” but that is great in theory. As for a “gay ministry” well that can be used to help those in the church to know that gays are no different than straight people. I think many in the church do not see it that way.

  2. I agree Shawn. I met with my pastor and gave him your book because he felt I was more qualified on this issue because I have a gay teen son. He felt that he was not equipped. It really is a matter of education and understanding.

  3. One more thing. My pastor asked me how I could help. I said to him that is not why I wanted to share with him. But I did say that he and his wife (they are Youth Pastors and he just became main pastor) should have a night to speak with parents with gay children to get to know who we are and why we have trouble trusting the church. I want him to see where we are at in our walk with our kids and also why so many of us leave the church. It is a suggestion.

  4. Your intro paragraph is spot on. I do not need or want to start a ministry for those with same sex attraction nor do I believe any church who advocates for that is truly willing to be inclusive and walk with those of us who deal with this issue. It is the same response I get from churches when I describe the disconnectedness of singles in the church… the initial response is always mentioning a singles group at another church or telling me that I should perhaps start it on my own. In our men’s bible study this morning we discussed Galations 6:1-2 regarding the need to “bear one another’s burdens” however it was so evident that most of the men didn’t truly grasp what that meant. The idea of coming alongside someone regardless of the issues or struggles they may have requires a cost that most are unwilling to offer.

    • So true! Many people are willing to help carry “easy burdens,” but not ones that are messy or uncomfortable. Great points – thanks for sharing.

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  6. Hi! I would love to chat with you! My son just revealed his same sex attraction to me after Christmas. Need to talk about it and was hoping you were available. Thank you for this website!

    Donna

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  8. I agree with your article BUT and its a BIG BUT!! I dont think you should call christians “Gay” or “lesbian” at all. The devil and the world are the ones that one to give us an ungodly label or identity we can never escape whether that be “liar” “theif” “fornicatior” “adulterer” or “Gay?. I agree we should not but those who struggle with same sex attraction in their own ministries but i would take it one step further and not label them at all by a desire that they are trying to put to death. “But such were some of you but you were washed sanctified Justified…” Let the sinful nature die. We are members of Christ and members of one another. sexual issues are a fruit and not the root……so we should deal with the root of the issue and not define people for the kind of fruit they used to bear and some who struggle with same sex attraction have never commited sexual sin, how much more does this label beg to trap people in a box they can never escape. The roots of same sex attraction are shame and labels can be a source of shame or pride. we have denied ourselves to follow Christ it is no longer us who live but Christ in us our only hope of Glory.

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