4 Views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers: Effective Ministry to Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer, and Questioning Students Among Us


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What do I do when a teenager comes out to me? How do I respond in a way that’s helpful rather than creating additional problems?

4 Views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers is a frank and compassionate conversation with four in-the-trenches youth workers who have wrestled with these questions and strengthened their ministries as a result. In fact, it’s out of real-life experience with gay, bi, cisgender, trans, queer, or questioning teens in their own youth groups that these youth workers are able to offer up their approaches—approaches which are then not theoretical at all, but practical and born of relational, everyday ministry.

Will you find all the answers in this book? No. Look elsewhere for theological debate; look elsewhere for pat, one-size-fits-all methodologies. Youth ministry is often messy and complex, but it’s a divine calling to connect every youth with Jesus: straight, gay, bi, cisgender, trans, queer, or questioning.

Mark Oestreicher, General Editor
Contributors: Shelley Donaldson, Gemma Dunning, Nick Elio, and Eric Woods

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7 reviews for 4 Views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers: Effective Ministry to Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer, and Questioning Students Among Us

  1. Matthew McNutt (verified owner)

    The Youth Cartel’s recent release, “4 Views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers,” is critical reading for anyone connected to youth ministry. I’ll be honest; I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. When they first announced it as an upcoming book, I assumed it would be like most contrasting views books; a debate on whether or not youth ministry should minister to LGBTQ teens. I was wrong; this book assumes that as people created in the image of God, every church has a divine calling to minister to LGBTQ teens. This book is not a theological debate, rather, it is a presentation of a range of approaches to practical ministry with young people.

    Given that premise, I had another assumption. Noticing a pattern? I assumed it would be four liberal/progressive authors presenting their approaches with little to no connection to the culture and context of my church. I was so wrong. Mark Oestreicher did an incredible job of assembling a group of authors from significantly different church contexts, each with drive to minister to LGBTQ teens, but in very different ways, shaped dramatically by their church cultures.

    A central theme to the book is this; “if we say we are all made in the image of God – the Imago Dei – then we must affirm that LGBTQ individuals are also made in the image of God” (p.17). Each of the authors are united in the calling to minister to all young people, regardless of labels; what was fascinating to see them each present their approaches, as well as push back on one another  in areas of disagreement. One author comes from a point of view of full inclusion and equality, another writes, “even though we may not agree with their sexual behaviors or what many in the church would call lifestyle choices, we can still offer love and extend grace” (p.76). What would seem such conflicting theologies, and did result in some thought provoking rebuttals in their responses to one another, was still incredibly exciting to see because each of these ministries were being proactive and intentional in their love and ministry to a community typically rejected or ignored by the church at large.

    The format was simple; each author (Shelley Donaldson, Gemma Dunning, Nick Elio, Eric Woods) presented a personal story that shaped and challenged them, followed by their theology and ministry framework, and concluded with a description of how they applied that practically in their ministries. Each of the four views are followed by one response from one of the other authors, highlighting areas of agreement, concern, and even outright disagreement. The book concludes with two appendixes on ministry to transgender teens (Mark Oestricher, Audrua Welch Malvaez); the first from the parent of a transgender teen, the second from the perspective of pastoring transgender teens. For me, perhaps one of the most convicting and powerful quotes came from Oestricher in his appendix, “Thoughts from a Parent of a Transgender Teen.” He was answering the question of what he needed as a parent, and it was simple; “to know that you still want my kid here, even if they don’t fit your idea of the ideal youth ministry kid. I want you to celebrate all that is good and beautiful and true about my child and my relationship with my child” (p.122).

    So, to sum up; this book is a must read. It’s not huge; at just under 140 pages, it is not overwhelming. For me, as a youth pastor, I felt like it was the first time I was reading something that gave actual direction on possible approaches to ministry instead of just theological arguments. It’s a risky book to write in our American church climate; I wonder if there aren’t more resources out there like this one because of fear? I may have drained the ink in my highlighter as I was reading; there is something marked on just about every page of my copy. It’s well written, from significantly different ministry theological and practical climates, and it is a significant contribution to the youth ministry world.

  2. Sarah Henry (verified owner)

    I read this book in 2 days. It’s amazing. I’ve never experienced a book on the topic of our LGBTQ students that held the tension of differing views with such love and grace. It challenged me to really consider what I am doing or NOT doing to make ALL my students feel welcome and safe and loved. It’s a life changer for me. I’m passing it on! Thank you!

  3. Erica Stephenson (verified owner)

    A breath of fresh air in the midst of hazy fog. You won’t find a theological argument as the premise of this read. My takeaway? We often love with the best of intentions only to cause more harm. The breadth of perspectives in this book will help those who read it continue to shift from well intentioned love to loving thoughtfully – one way it is described in the book is a shift from pity to solidarity. No formulas here either. Just themes and principles that jump out through all four perspectives that have to be wrestled out in one’s ministry context. I’ve already handed it off to a friend who’s on staff with a parachurch ministry. I will be using it in training with our volunteer youth leaders. As we pursue loving as Jesus did, this is a must read.

  4. Ed Cox

    In this current climate key terms such as ‘sexuality’, ‘gender’ and ‘LGBTQ’ often crop up in conversations to do with faith, scripture, discipleship, pastoring and youth. It isn’t too hard to find the plethora of finely worded and crafted debates (arguments) that are in the Church and the world today. This area seems to have become a hot-spot for Christians, where battle is done, so no wonder when this topic raises its head does my fight or flight instinct kick in. This instinct is not required to engage with this book.

    If you are able to gently hold your view/theology/ideology/’insert appropriate term here’ on LGBTQ issues, you will find this book greatly rewarding. The contributors do not seek to give solid answers or to point to something and say definitively “this is the answer”. Instead, they welcome the reader into their experience and journeys. Through storytelling and sharing of their experience, the writers help the reader to look again at the topic of LGBTQ in a way that is not trying to persuade people to their viewpoint. They do this whilst also being able to look again and see not a problem but instead see people, created in the image of God.

    In a time where most discussions around LGBTQ and sexuality start with Imago Deo (humanity created in the Image of God) and then go on to a series of caveats that state ‘yet’ and ‘if’ and ‘however’, these writers dare to hold on to that and embrace it. All the while, they maintain their faithful convictions and views in regards to the big LGBTQ questions. The written responses also help to engage and grapple with the writer’s viewpoint whilst holding a different one.

    All in all, this is an excellent book to help readers to start engaging with the LGBTQ question more broadly and with a variety of different viewpoints. Indeed there will be parts where the reader will find what is being said as uncomfortable or frustrating, but it is in engaging with this that the reader can further shape their pastoral support for LGBTQ Youth in a fruitful and Godly way.

    This review originally appeared here: https://concreteonline.org/review-4-views-on-pastoring-lgbtq-teenagers/?utm_content=buffer69fcd&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

  5. Brian W. Glodek

    When I found out that the Youth Cartel was publishing 4 views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers: Effective Ministry to Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer, and Questioning Students Among Us, I made sure I pre-ordered it. Once it arrived I jumped in knowing that there were standpoints I would agree with, standpoints I would not, and that I would be challenged in my own thinking. I was correct on all counts. 4 Views is a well written and thought-provoking read. If you have never thought about this topic before or are in the midst of it, I would highly recommend you read this book, and let the Holy Spirit guide you as you move forward ministering .

  6. Sara (verified owner)

    As a high school teacher and volunteer with my church youth group, this book was incredibly helpful. I love the fact that it isn’t a theological debate but that it offers real advice. The book gave me insight into how I can better meet the needs of my LGBTQ students and how important it is to remind them that they are loved. I also learned that there are changes that can be made within my youth group to make it a more accepting environment. I’m going to re-read the book and then pass it along to another youth leader.

  7. Derrick Smith (verified owner)

    An open and honest book on the subject. Don’t skip the introduction

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