Equipping the Church

Gay Flag ConferenceRecently, my son and I took a trip to Georgia to display Hope for Wholeness and Hope For Wholeness at a Baptist youth conference.  I wrote a blog about this experience and have posted a portion of it in this newsletter.  I would encourage you to follow my blog and sign up to get our e-newsletter, so you don’t miss things that are going on in between these monthly newsletters.

As my son and I got to the conference and set up our display, we didn’t notice the rainbow flag flying outside the conference center that we noticed on the last day.  I have no idea what this was about, but since the rainbow has become a symbol for gay pride, it seemed odd that it was prominently displayed.

One of the things I promote to our participants or clients is the church.  The church should be the place that people establish relationships, get Biblical teaching, confess, and find restoration.  To the teens I work with, I encourage them to join youth groups and speak to their youth pastors. I even encourage them to reach out to godly friends and share their struggle with this issue.  I have had several do just this and, though they were reluctant on the basis of fear of rejection, they were able to receive a warm and welcome reception from the ones they’ve shared with.

However, at this youth convention, I was sad to see shock and very immature responses on these youths’ faces. I’m sure that there were struggling teens in attendance, based solely on statistics, however it wasn’t a safe environment for making oneself vulnerable.  I hope that some of those teens will be able to remember our website address and will contact us for help.  Sadly though, we did not have youth leaders or pastors come by and engage with us. We had two or three people come by and get materials, but they didn’t know what to say or ask. Many also got material while we were not there–really more material disappeared in our absence than we gave away.

It is sad that many in the church are very immature about the subject.  When I have the opportunity to speak at a church or school, I am highlighted as the expert. I can communicate a message of freedom and educate on the subject. People line up to speak with me.

The world has taken this subject and run with it.  The liberal church has made, or is making, homosexuality normal and acceptable.  Many churches are faced with splitting from their mainline denomination over this issue. A person who is caught up in this battle told me just yesterday that their church says the Bible is just a guide for us. The media is fully indoctrinating our young people – and I’m including our churched youths.

In addition to this, most conservative churches are not only ignorant on the subject but are also immaturely turning a blind eye in judgment.  Our young people and adults are struggling, but the church doesn’t understand the issue enough to understand that there ARE members in their congregation that are struggling with homosexual thoughts and feelings.

An article I was reading just this morning by Christy McFerren, addressed this so well:

It is my belief that while the Church has long been correct in regarding homosexual behavior a sin from a biblical viewpoint, she has rarely done the necessary relational work to love without condition, understand the unique struggles and bring reconciliation with Christ to people who deal with same-sex attraction.

This is in contrast to the way the Church gracefully handles many other issues, and my heart is to offer insight to leaders so they, in turn, can offer hope to those in their churches who will hide in isolation with their struggle until it’s safe to confess it.

Before I go farther, one thing needs to be said loud and clear about this issue—to both sides of the debate: Not everyone who struggles with same-sex attraction wants to embrace a homosexual identity. There are many in the Church who are “in the closet” but don’t want to “come out” in the traditional meaning of the phrase.

They seek vital necessary connection with the Church. They want acceptance as brothers and sisters in Christ.  They need affirmation of their value regardless of the outcome of their fight.

Many who struggle with same-sex attraction are Christians who already understand it is relationship with God that validates salvation—not the success or failure of any of our attempts to mature into His likeness. It’s just taking a while for the Church to catch up to this understanding when it comes to homosexuality.

Because we’ve taken the comfortable position of neglect for so long, we do not have deep, well-constructed responses to this issue when it becomes a reality in our lives. Therefore, for the many whose same-sex attraction is unwanted, there is an extreme shortage of environments where they feel comfortable discussing their struggle.

With every passing battle in the culture war, God is calling the Church out of our indifference.

He is calling us out of our simplified stances against homosexuality, which currently primarily express themselves through political viewpoints, satirical sidebars about “Adam and Steve” in sermons or “speaking the truth in love” with no real intent to invest in a person after the truth is spoken. These things are not helpful, and what we’ve been doing so far is only costing us relationship with the people Jesus asked us to love. We are not increasing the Kingdom.

There is good news in this. Every realization of inadequacy is an opportunity for growth.

Hope for Wholeness is here to help.  Many have stepped up to the plate and are standing with Hope for Wholeness financially and in prayer, many are seeking out this ministry for help, and many attended our recent conference.  It is now time for us to reach out to the church and help those who want to alter their current path, and chart a new course to reach out with love and compassion to those that are affected by this subject.

You do not want to miss this event!  You will also want to invite anyone in leadership in a church to attend with you. You may be a family member, or even a struggler – it doesn’t matter who you are – you will benefit by this training event.

*Homosexuality and the Church: Is There a Better Way? by Christy McFerren at www.churchleaders.com. See our website under Resources/Related articles for the full article.


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