Love sees, cares, and takes action.
For most churches, the decision to start an ID group means a culture shift. It may require turning from apathy to compassion. It may require some repentance for failing to love those who experience same-sex attraction. It will require honesty and humility. An ID group in your church will mean that you recognize these brothers and sisters as part of your spiritual family, that you love them enough to stand beside them, and that you accept accountability for your own sin. As Jesus pointed out to the scribes and Pharisees, all have sinned and no one’s sin is worse than another’s. (John 8:7)
The good news is that an ID group is not that hard to start! All you need is a mature believer who is well-grounded in the Word and gifted with a compassionate heart toward those who experience same-sex attraction. In practice, an ID group is much like any other Bible study or discipleship group.
Does an ID Group leader need to experience same-sex attraction in order to shepherd the group? Consider this: does a pastor needs to have experienced all of the sins his congregation has struggled with? No, of course not! An ID Group leader simply needs to be capable of sympathy and compassion for the same-sex attracted. Equally important is a solid understanding of biblical teachings on sexuality and marriage. A leader should be able to defend the doctrine of marriage and singleness, and should be passionate about the pursuit of holiness and intimacy with Jesus. He or she should also exemplify a commitment to personal purity, accountability, confession, and repentance. If a man or woman is deemed capable of leading a bible study or otherwise teaching in the church, then they are qualified to lead an ID Group, providing they have a heart for those in the group.
When leading an ID group, a good rule to follow is listen more, speak less. It’s been said, “An accusation hardens the heart, but a question stirs the conscience.” When dealing with sensitive and personal issues like sexuality and temptation, it’s important to listen well and understand a brother’s heart before you try to speak into his life. You can ruin a precious moment of truth and miss a discipling opportunity by injecting your thoughts and assumptions into a conversation. Learn to ask good, thought-provoking, conscience-stirring questions and to listen to how the group responds. Learn to sense their spiritual “temperature” and understanding of the Word and cater your gentle instruction to it. We highly recommend Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund for any ID group leader; it provides a beautiful study of Christ’s loving nature that can serve as a blueprint for group leaders in their care of those whose discipleship is entrusted to them.
We have developed a simple ID Leaders Kit to help you get started. It contains materials and information that we have found helpful.