NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Nine years ago, Bob Stith began to feel guilty about the negative attitude toward homosexuals he preached in his sermons. He knew he should change when he realized that he was more likely to push homosexuals away rather than draw them in to the church.
Today, Carroll Baptist Church in Southlake, Texas, where Stith is pastor, works with Living Hope Ministries to reach out to homosexuals in their community.
“The churches have kept this kind of ministry at arm’s length,” Stith said. “We need for churches to be a resource of hope and healing to hurting people.”
LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention is helping prepare churches and ministries to share biblical hope with homosexuals who wish to change their lifestyle.
“Our goal is that churches can build an adequate base to reach out to homosexuals from the resources we provide,” LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. said. “Our hope is that we will raise the visibility of the need for churches to address this issue. There is a great need for churches to be places of compassion and love.”
Draper is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s task force on ministry to homosexuals, and he said the issue is one that cannot be ignored.
“This is a moral, spiritual issue that’s within the scope of our ministry to provide biblical solutions for life,” Draper said. “We have to address it because biblical teaching is clear.”
To provide churches with helpful resources in their ministries to homosexuals, LifeWay developed a website with links to articles, Bible studies and books that may be useful tools. The website also contains links to other ministries to homosexuals, including Living Hope.
Chris Johnson, a biblical and instructional specialist with LifeWay, said he collected articles, Bible studies and books that LifeWay has published in the last four years. The resources can be found online at www.lifeway.com/thewayout. The website will be updated as other items become available and is a starting place for people looking for ways to minister to homosexuals.
“We want the church to be known as a place where everyone is welcome,” Draper said. “We always need to hold up God’s truth in love. The Bible has real answers, and God has the power to turn anything around. Real people’s lives have been changed, and if we can show their testimonies, then no one can argue with it.”