The first step would be to locate individuals or groups engaged in this area of ministry. This may seem obvious, but as a pastor with over 10 years of involvement in this ministry I still find that many churches are either unaware of such ministries or have done nothing to make their existence known to their
membership. Consequently, those who need this ministry and those who would like to help have no idea where to turn. A good place to start would be to go to the Exodus website at
http://www.exodusinternational.org and click on “Find Help.”
Secondly, do all that you can to help make the ministry and its members feel welcome. After attending Living Hope ministries, the Exodus affiliate in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, for several years, a businessman in Dallas was shocked to discover his church had a group for those who struggled with homosexuality. He had been a member there for over 10 years and had never heard of the group.
Consequently, not only was he left without help in his struggles with homosexuality, the secrecy helped perpetuate the sense of shame that many who struggle with this sin feel.
Third, churches should allow the ministry to participate in mission fairs. Have the director share his vision with the congregation. Set aside a service or a portion of a service for testimonies from those who have learned to walk in victory. Many church members have never heard an ex-gay share their story.
Fourth, churches also should support these ministries financially. While most evangelical Christians are well aware that this is one of the biggest challenges facing the church today, financial support from churches is almost non-existent. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has one of the largest and best organized gay communities in the nation. The largest gay church in the world is in Dallas. They are currently involved in a multi-million dollar expansion. Conversely, the only Exodus-related ministry in this area has minimal funding support from only five churches.
Fifth, the local church body should volunteer. While it may take time to work into actual ministry, I’ve yet to find a ministry that is not in need of ordinary tasks such as stuffing envelopes, answering phones, helping with computer maintenance and technology, or helping plan fellowship events. The local church can help them make contacts, find opportunities to speak, and get articles into church newsletters.
Sixth, ask what specific needs they have for which the church can pray and include these requests in prayer lists. Pray specifically for these individual requests and ask God’s protection and provision for that ministry during weekly prayer meetings.
Finally, be a mentor. You may feel that you know nothing about homosexuality and have nothing to offer. But I’ve heard many testimonies of overcomers who have been helped by an “ever-straight” Christian coming alongside and showing genuine love.
Much of the personal struggle against same-sex attractions is about legitimate relationship needs met in sinful ways. Be willing to be vulnerable and you may discover that your struggles aren’t so different. Loneliness, lust, and fear are much the same regardless of the basis for the temptation.
Spend time with those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction. Invite them into your home. Share meals together. Be a friend.
Bob Stith is the pastor of Carroll Baptist Church in Southlake, Texas. He has a bachelor’s degree from Samford University and an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.