Today the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that same-sex couples may marry in all 50 states. There’s no doubt that this ruling will be a topic of interest in your small group, and it will come up in conversation. With such an explosive topic, though, how can you facilitate a discussion effectively?
Pray, even now, for wisdom in facilitating this discussion. The truth is, most people have a strong opinion about it. Pray that God will help you lead with love and truth, facilitate honest discussion, and ultimately lead your group members to, above all else, look to God for answers and guidance. Pray that you will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and that group members will be sensitive to one another, truly listening to each other’s hearts.
2. Know the facts.
As blog posts, commentaries, and tweets are published this weekend, the truth is bound to be misconstrued. Educate yourself on the facts of this case with these articles so you can lead well. They’re also great resources for your group members if they’re seeking clarification.
CT Magazine’s Coverage: Learn the facts about the Supreme Court ruling.
Evangelical Leader’s Declaration on Marriage: Over 90 leaders have signed this declaration, agreeing on where they stand when it comes to marriage.
Ed Stetzer’s Response: A grace-filled post with stats and research that will be helpful to you.
How Church Leaders Are Responding: Leadership Journal's advice for church leaders
Barna Research on Christian Reactions to the Ruling: 9 key findings
3. Leave room for grace.
Very likely, your group members will present a variety of thoughts and emotions. Leave space for these, and lead a discussion that allows honesty, openness, and disagreement. Let group members share their hearts in a safe environment. In a world where nearly everyone has a friend or family member who is gay, this topic is not theoretical—it has a loved one’s face and life attached to it. (Let's be honest: there may be people in your group who experience same-sex orientation.) Be sensitive to this fact. (I recommend you read Ed Stetzer’s post that highlights this.)
I would recommend starting your conversation with time for group members to share their thoughts and feelings first. Withhold judgment and instead ask follow-up questions for clarification. It may be wise to steer clear of sharing your own opinion, or your church’s official stance, just yet. This contributes to a safe environment for honest sharing and questions.
Group members may have some specific questions, though:
- What does the Bible say?
- Where does our church stand?
- What does this mean for our church?
You don’t have to know all the answers to these questions, but it’s wise to have some references for your group members. Check out our newest Bible study: What Does the Bible Say About Being Gay? for some guidance. You might also check with your coach, director, or pastor for guidance on answering these questions.
With so many questions still about what this will mean for churches, know that we’ll keep you posted as details come to light. In the meantime, stress what we do know: God is sovereign, and God is good.
Encourage group members to be wise in their interactions—both in person and on social media. God asks us to love our neighbor—and that includes our LGBT neighbor. Pray aloud that your group members’ words and actions would be full of love and grace, especially in this time.
If things start to get heated, take a break to pray. Thank God for this opportunity to wrestle through real-life questions and look to his Word for answers.
Here are a few questions to guide your discussion:
- What were your thoughts and feelings when you heard the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage? How are you feeling now?
- Why do you feel this way?
- What questions do you have around this ruling?
- How should we act toward the LGBT community?
This is uncharted territory for us, and only time will tell how this will unfold. In times of uncertainty, I find it helpful to remember that God is not shaken. He is not surprised. He is not stammering for a response. God is unchanged. Let us cling to God, filled with his love, honoring one another as we discuss this topic.
—Amy Jackson is managing editor of SmallGroups.com.