Go and be the one who keeps the wolves away.
Step boldly into the space of all of the students in your midst, and make them know a fraction of the depth of Jesus’ love for them, by the way you love them.
Not just some of them, not just the ones you’re comfortable with, not just the ones who seem to get it—and not just the straight ones. You may not know that you have gay students in your youth group, but if you are told that you do; if they find the courage to share that truth with you; celebrate.
Celebrate, that despite the condemnation and the hurt they may have experienced at the hands of Christians for their entire lives, they are still there, fighting to get close enough to Jesus to touch the hem on his robe and stop the bleeding. Give them a front row seat to a Jesus that can be reached. Celebrate that a young person so trusts you, that they are willing to tear themselves open and show you the most tender parts of who they are; braving pain, and worry, and the scalding fear, that you too will reject them, once you know their truth. Refuse to let their fears become fact. Stay. Insist that they stay, too. Celebrate that you find yourself face-to-face with a teenager who finds in you, something so good, and so compassionate, and so loving, that they want you to know them completely. That is incredibly holy ground, so tread it with reverence. My friend, you are on the front lines of a bloody war that you need to win; not a distant, faceless “culture war”, not a battle of differing ideologies, not a theological debate on an issue.
This war is far closer than that. It’s right in front of you. You can hold this one in your hand. It’s one fought, as all wars truly are, with individual, beautiful, flawed human beings in the balance. The LGBT students you will sit across from this week are worth fighting for, and you won’t win them with a Scripture quote, or a quick prayer, or by making ultimatums, or by keeping your distance, or by casting them out. You will win, by drawing closer, by hearing their hearts, and learning their stories, and sitting with their pain. You’ll win this war, by showing them a kindness and decency that they may find no other place in this world. You will win, when you have no agenda with them, other than setting the table for them to meet with Jesus, and trusting Him to do whatever he desires to do, in and around, and through their lives. This is the truth of what you are called to, with any child within your care. Pastor, you do have gay kids in your youth group right now. Be grateful if they tell you so. And when they do, love them well.
I’m in your corner, if you need me to help you figure out how.
—Submitted by Jason Cruz