For pastors and volunteers in youth ministry today, there is no glossing over the fact that many teens identify with a homosexual or bisexual lifestyle. Just a couple of decades ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find a teenager who admitted to being gay — even if they were secretly leading a homosexual lifestyle. The culture of today has changed that, yielding acceptance and support to individual sexual identity. Chances are you have gay teenagers in youth group at church. So how do you handle it?
We’ve been called to lead teenagers into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Period. The End. We all know what the Word says. Even non-Christians are aware of the Bible’s verbage concerning homosexuality. It’s wrong…no if’s, and’s or but’s. However, so is every other sin. In fact, all of us have sinned. Whether it was a homosexual lifestyle, sleeping with a significant other before marriage or holding unforgiveness in our hearts, all of us have come short of the glory of God. So what changes us? What compels us to lead a lifestyle pleasing to God?
I dare say it is the unfailing love of our savior. A savior who never condoned our sin, but instead loved us through it. He loves every person…including people who are gay. Love is a powerful thing. Love can move mountains. Most of us were changed and transformed into the new creations we are today because we had an encounter with God’s love. Gay teens need the same thing — they need to know they are loved. They need to know that someone — you — sees them for more than the sin in their lives.
In fact, gay teens may need love even more than most other kids their age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, LGBT youth are more likely than heterosexual teens to report being bullied or abusing substances. Teens who questions their sexuality are also more likely to be teased, miss school, report depression and even engage in suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
How to Minister to Gay and Lesbian Teenagers
The teen years are tumultuous and all about finding independence and identity. Teenagers are heavily influenced by the messages around them and can carry hurts and soul wounds for a lifetime. That is why finger-pointing and chastising doesn’t work and never will. Instead, a youth minister must walk the line of speaking truth into the life of a gay teenager, but doing so in love and grace.
If you need help learning how to address gay, lesbian and bisexual teens in your youth ministry, Ministering to Gay Teenagers by Shawn Harrison is an excellent resource. Available as a digital download or hard copy, this book will help you learn how to:
- Respond when one of the students in your church youth group ‘comes out’
- Answer the ‘tough’ questions so often ignored by the church
- Help a teen’s family as their teen identifies with or participates in a homosexual lifestyle
- Practically serve and minister to LGBT teens in love and truth
Youth leaders, please read this book. It will lay out the framework for ministry to gay teens and also help you learn to look beyond the surface and into the issues affecting each individual teenager’s life. As this issue becomes a growing part of today’s culture, the kids you minister to today and in the future are relying on you to learn God’s heart for LGBT teens.