Why is evangelism to the LGBT+ community intimidating for many Christians? What are effective, relational methods Christians can use to share the gospel with their LGBT+ neighbors? In this video, Rosaria Butterfield outlines four practical, relationship-oriented ways Christians can share the gospel with the LGBT+ community. As Christians seek to evangelize, they must be mindful of the particular challenges and difficulties their LGBT+ neighbors encounter. In light of these challenges, believers are encouraged to build welcoming, fellowship-oriented relationships with their LGBT+ neighbors. As a result of these relationships, trust can be built, allowing the gospel to define and be the focus of conversations as life is lived together.
- Loving Your Neighbor
- Building Relationships
- Supporting in the Fallout
- Fellowship and the Church
Well, the first step is to realize that all people bear the image of a holy God. And so people are people. And the other first step to realize is that original sin is the great democratizing theology. Nobody escapes it. Nobody gets a free pass and everyone is distorted by it. So I think to start there is very helpful. But I think there are a couple of ways to think about engagement issues.
So one way might be to think about engagement issues in your neighborhood. If you don’t know your neighbors, you ought to. In fact, God commands you to. I love the, I think it was Chesterton
who said that, “You make your friends and you make your enemies, but God makes your neighbors.” So God never gets the address wrong. And neighboring is a wonderful way to really get to know where people are hurt. An obvious gospel road into people’s life, is mercy.
The LGBT+ Community
And your gay and lesbian neighbors have a lot of pressures that you do not have. Some of those pressures have to do with things that you haven’t even thought about. So that might be one thing, to really make a broad sweep. Get to know your neighbors. There’s a great book, the Art of Neighboring. I love it. I recommend it. It’s so simple. It really is. But it just teaches people how to get over their squeamishness. Another good thing to realize is that the sin of homosexuality is really not the biggest sin that your gay and lesbian friends are experiencing. Likely the sin of unbelief is going to trump that by about a million-fold. So you deal with your gay and lesbian friends the same way you would any of your unbelieving friends.
Now another thing to do is to think about and be mindful of your posture in the world. And the way that you have had perhaps expectations that are ungodly for people. So what do you really expect your gay and lesbian neighbors to do? I mean, what do you expect? And if you are calling them to repentance, are you going to be there when the fallout happens? And I mean that really quite truly. When that household breaks up because the gospel message has taken root, are you going to take someone into your home? Are you going to drive the kids to school? If you’re not going to do that, then maybe you ought not be sharing the gospel. And maybe you ought not be pretending that you’re in this gospel movement at all. So it’s good to take some stock and think about things.
Sharing the Gospel with the LGBT+ Community
Another thing to do is in your church community, to be very mindful of the attitudes that you’re presenting. Are you communicating that you believe that the sin of homosexuality or just simply the temptation of unwanted homosexual desires is something really creepy and scary and different? And if you are, why? There’ve been a couple of blog posts going around lately about the gag factor. Woe to you, if you’re the pastor who wrote that one. Okay, I am just going to tell you that nobody is going to trust what you have to say. I mean, I wouldn’t, I don’t. I don’t. Because it’s very threatening. If only sin were so clearly arbitrated by personal feelings, then we would not need the blood of our Savior. So if you have sinned against your gay and lesbian neighbors or your children or your church members, repent and apologize.
Don’t tolerate gay jokes. And don’t think that that is the sharing of the gospel. And then finally. In your church, even in my little small church, so in your great big churches, you’ll be dealing with sexual minorities all the time. Don’t make a ghetto out of their reality. But be mindful of the fact that there are people who have lived homosexual lives, who are now heterosexually married, and they may need some help. May need some encouragement.
There are people who experience daily unwanted homosexual desire for whom the biggest problem is not chastity,
because they’re committed members of your church. They are committed to what the Bible says, but loneliness. And then there are parents who have been just sold a bill of goods that says that, “It’s all your fault.” And they’re ashamed. And yet at the same time, they’re on a fierce mission field.
Supporting the LGBT+ Community
They’re being called right now to shake the gates of heaven for their children who have left the church. And is the church supporting them? Maybe not. So to be mindful of those things and to create a kind of community where people can step in and be themselves, and not necessarily to think of that as capitulating or throwing in the goods. But it was fairly standard in the gay and lesbian community that every night, some home was open for fellowship and food and just to have a conversation. And my experience in going from the gay and lesbian community to the Christian community is, man, we are on a starvation diet and like starving people, we don’t even know what to do with a meal when we get it. The idea that community means a fellowship meal once in a while, or small groups meeting on your terms, that’s not community.
If we really are the family of God, we have the invitation to be in each other’s rhythm of life. And if the church can’t do that, what else can’t it do? One of my favorite, well, and even troubling verses is 1st Corinthians 10:13, that the Lord will not provide a temptation except by also providing a way of escape. And I wonder if our homes aren’t that way of escape. We have to be mindful of the fact that the Lord will give each of us in a differential way, crosses to bear. One person will have one, one person will have 10. But the church ought not to add extra weight to
those crosses. We know that the Lord will carry the happier part, but I believe we provoke him when we add extra weight. And our inaccessibility, I believe, is an extra weight.