At Table for One Ministries we want every church to have an environment in which those struggling with homosexually or acting on their earthly desires can come to find the truth of God’s Word regarding the issue. We have asked those who struggle with same-sex attraction what environment they were in when they shared their struggle and reached out for help. We also asked what the church can do to reach out to men and women like them in an effort help them fight against this struggle.
One shared his struggle first in a group setting of 10-15 guys that had been sharing about sexual struggles they were having. He met with this group for over a year before also admitting he struggled, but in a same-sex attraction way. He shared his experience because another member of the group shared about his same-sex attraction issues. He first talked with a person one-on-one before coming out to a group of men for accountability. All of these guys shared with people they trusted and did not feel like they would be judged or cast off for doing so.
Accountability is a key component for any follower of Christ to grow closer to the Lord. James 5:16 promotes the idea of sharing our sins with one another for the reason being healed through prayer. Like any sin, same-sex attraction needs a group of strong supporters praying for the healing of that person to turn from that sin. Without this network of prayer, the one struggling is left alone to fight that sin. Accountability is also a hard thing to describe. Accountability is not just merely sharing sins to one another, but the act of another believer challenging a person to grow and take positive actions.
While every believer must confess their sins to the Lord and acknowledge Jesus died for those sins, an accountability partner can serve as reinforcement of the commitments we make to the Lord. In these cases, the 10-15 person home groups were broken into assigned accountability partners. While this is a great way to emphasize the importance of accountability, it can lack the cohesiveness needed with a pair of believers to share openly with one another. Accountability through home groups or an intimate setting is the first environment needed to help those struggling with same-sex attraction and have a safe place to share that challenge.
The second environment needed is one that apply too many areas and set by the leader or minister of the group. All participants communicated that the reason they stayed and eventually sought help at a particular church was because their leader mentioned same-sex attraction as one of many sins. This minister made it known it was no worse than any other struggle or sin people face. By him taking time to list struggles that included same-sex attraction, they knew they were in a place to find help. While an environment of trust and awareness needs to be built by a minister, it can also be talked about too often and lose its effect.
Lay leaders also play a supportive role in allowing those with this sin to find a place of healing and accountability. Ministers must train their leaders adequately in what it means to disciple a person and hold them accountable. Both of these can take different amounts of time for each person and require dedication from every leader to seek out intentional relationships with others for the intent of discipleship. For one single adult, a lay leader took time to friend him and ask how he could pray with him and help him in his walk with the Lord. It was during that one-on-one relationship that he shared his struggle and finally started down a road to end the sinful behavior.
If the church is going to be open to helping those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those in the LGBT community, they must provide environments and awareness for their leaders to do so.
Does your church have a place where this type of accountability can occur? If not, what could you do to start such a group?