A former teacher and education expert who runs a nonprofit aimed at helping kids and families navigate today’s chaotic culture believes Christians need to think deeper about how to navigate LGBTQ issues impacting the church.
Dr. Kathy Koch, a staff member with Summit Ministries and the founder and president of Celebrate Kids, Inc., lamented the reality that some pastors and church leaders are ill-prepared to deal with these issues.
Preparing Faith Leaders and Congregants
And Koch, who routinely speaks about issues like education, homeschooling, and evangelism, believes preachers and other leaders in the church must be better equipped to help Christian families.
“Let’s get our pastors prepared,” she told CBN’s Faithwire. “You can graduate from seminary and have no coursework in evangelism, mental health, etc. Which I don’t understand.”
Koch said church leaders of all stripes should attend conferences, read periodicals, and watch content to understand how to address and cope with parishioners’ challenges.
“[We have to let] parents and grandparents and kids know we’re a hospital for the sick,” she said. “We have got to train up the people.”
One of the barriers to addressing LGBTQ issues in the church, Koch said, is that some people struggle even to admit and address the presence of heterosexual sexual sin, inappropriately skirting the issue.
Beyond that, certain judgments can sometimes get in the way of helping others with healing and restoration.
“The whole thing is just so messy,” she said. “We have a hierarchy in our mind. We’ve got to get rid of that. We have got to train up the people sitting in our pews to welcome the prodigal home and to allow for that conversation without the shocked face like, ‘Oh, that’s happening in your family. What have you done?'”
Rather than rebuking those struggling with these issues in their families, Koch encouraged Christians to “love them in the moment of their pain” and to journey alongside them.
“[You ask,] ‘How can I walk with you?’ And then you say, ‘Let me pray for you,’ and you pray right then and there,” she said. “And you text or call 24 hours later and say, ‘How can I keep praying for you? Has anything changed? How can I love you in the middle of the mess?'”
Koch continued, “And we certainly don’t make them feel judged.”
Addressing Issues in the Church
The shock and awe some Christians have after discovering these issues within the church can also be problematic.
But Koch said this reality shouldn’t intimidate or shock other Christians. Believers, she said, should be prepared to engage in the right ways.
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“It is in the Christian community, it is in the church, and … we don’t need to be alarmed and scared and offended by that,” she said, encouraging believers to feel others’ pain “before we try to solve their problem.”
For parents facing these struggles, she encouraged prayer and an important realization: a child struggling who isn’t a Christian won’t have the same love for the Lord that would push him or her to abide by Him.
“If you’re a Christian family, but your child is not yet saved … they don’t have a love for God that would compel them to righteousness,” she said. “That’s one of the things we’ve got to pray over our kids — a greater love for God, so they don’t want to sin.”
Koch said the penchant for avoiding sin comes from not wanting to break “God’s heart” and that this reality is something she wants to see elevated within families.
Learning to Love in the Middle of Sin
The former educator offered parents and friends of children another powerful piece of advice she believes can help people become more comfortable sharing their issues of confusion: learn to love amid others’ sin.
“One of the things that we could do as parents and friends of children and just family members is learn how to love well in the middle of any sin,” Koch said. “How do you love well when your kids cheat, and tease, and lie, and are prideful? How do you love well when they’re aggressive? What does unconditional love look like in, if you will, the lesser of the sins — the things that we think are more typical and normal?”
She said too often most people do a poor job addressing these more minor issues and encouraged fellow Christians to improve in this area, especially if they want to have an impact on kids questioning gender and other much more consequential matters.
“Then maybe our children would trust us both in the home and in the church to admit that they’re confused,” she said.
And from there, parents can work to help bring children to the Lord in more vibrant and effective ways. Watch more of Koch’s advice for Christian parents and communities here.
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