Distinctions-for-Youth-banner-with-tagline

An upcoming conference by ex-gay group Outpost Ministries and Transform Minnesota, a regional network of evangelical churches, will teach youth pastors, youth leaders, and parents about how to connect LGBTQ youth to counseling and religious resources that attempt to change sexual orientation and gender identity.

Titled, “Distinctions for Youth,” the conference is hosted by Nate Oyloe, head of Outpost Ministries.

From the event description:

The morning will educate participants with a biblical understanding of homosexuality and equip them with practical tools to reach out to youth in their congregations who struggle with same-sex attractions or identify as gay. We will also discuss the impact of homosexuality on youth culture and the struggles specific to youth in today’s sex-permeated culture.

The conference will teach youth workers and parents in five key areas:

Do’s and Don’ts of ministering in this area
Types of strugglers & how to respond (what to do when student says “I’m gay”)
Teaching & curriculum to use in ministry
Appropriate boundaries when traveling with youth
Helping parents of strugglers

Participants will also “hear encouraging testimonies that give proof of God’s transforming power.”

Outpost Ministries is Minnesota’s largest organization that purports to help LGBTQ people leave the “lifestyle.”

Transform Minnesota, previously the Greater Minnesota Association of Evangelicals until 2011, has included the conference as part of its “Holy Sexuality” initiative launched earlier this year.

“Our Holy Sexuality initiative is to help pastors and church leaders be able to understand God’s vision of holy sexuality and communicate it in a compelling way to their congregation, to parents in their church, and to teens as they grow up in the Church,” Carl Nelson, president of Transform Minnesota, said in an article on the group’s website.

The “Holy Sexuality” initiative focuses on other issues of sexuality such as abstinence and fidelity, but thus far, most activities have targeted the LGBTQ community.

In early April, Transform Minnesota held seminars at Bethel University in Arden Hills and New Hope Community Church in Cambridge. These seminars focused on a range of issues including …

It featured Mark Yarhouse who is a researcher at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, Paul Eddy who is a Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University, David Clark who is the Vice President and Dean of Bethel Seminary, Bryan Lair who is the Lead Pastor of Trinity City Church, and Becky Patton who is a Pastoral Counselor and Founder of Truessence.

At that conference, the panelists discussed various ways to reach out to LGBTQ people. On a question about the word “queer,” one panelist suggested that conservative Christians trying to win LGBTQ souls to Christ should learn the language: “Sometimes just showing that you are knowledgeable about that will let guards down.”

Another question for the panel concerned whether or not demons cause people to be LGBTQ. None of the panelists said “no.” Many hedged the question: “I don’t want to say there’s a demon around every corner,” said Patton who said she works with “struggling” LGBTQ clients. Paul Eddy added that “the enemy [satan] thinks [LGBTQ] is pretty important too,” but said he “didn’t want to go there.”

On July 13, Eddy spoke at City Church in Minneapolis about covenant marriage. Other than the ideology that marriage should be only between a man and woman, that talk didn’t appear to delve into LGBTQ issues.

Coming up on October 7, the “Holy Sexuality” initiative is bringing in Christopher Yuan who claims to be a former gay man. His seminar will tackle the questions: “How should Christians respond to homosexuality and more importantly those in the LGBT community? What does the Bible really say about homosexuality? How do we minister to those struggling with sexual identity?” That event will take place at Autumn Ridge Church in Rochester.

About the “Holy Sexuality” initiative, Oyloe — who is conducting the training on how to convert LGBTQ youth — told Transform Minnesota, “It’s really popular among youth to make up their own sexuality title or their own gender title. So there really isn’t a norm anymore. They don’t want the Lord’s guidelines anymore, they don’t want His boundaries. I think we’re living in that kind of a crisis right now in our nation.”

“The stories I hear of people who are coming into the Kingdom from the LGBT community, weren’t argued into the Kingdom, they weren’t debated into the Kingdom; somebody just loved on them and served them,” said Oyloe.

According to OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBTQ equity group, efforts at changing sexual orientation or gender identity through religious or therapeutic means nearly always ends in failure.

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

1 COMMENT

  1. I spent my teens and twenties immersed in “conversion therapy” and pastoral counseling in a crusade to change my innate orientation. I was a “struggler” and I didn’t tell my parents. While these pastors likely mean well, they are doing tremendous harm peddling their fraudulent claims that “change is possible.” In a world of grays, they see only black and white. Their idolatry of the Bible and tainted “biblical understanding” are leading kids away from being all that God intended them to be. The tragedy is that too many kids internalize this message that they are “broken” and flawed, leading far too many to the edge of despair. If you’re a pastor and want to lead others into a deeper relationship with God, then stop supporting “conversion therapy” and preaching a gospel of exclusion. Bryan Christopher (Author, “Hiding from Myself: A Memoir”)

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