In evangelical churches, Gen Z is forcing a discussion on LGBT hospitality.
With transgender identity continuing to rise in the US, evangelical pastors are challenged to think through how they might welcome a trans person attending their church. For many conservative pastors, this scenario may still be a hypothetical. But odds are, for the youth in their congregation, the question of how to relate to their transgender peers is already a reality.
Nearly 20 percent of those who identify as transgender in the United States are between the ages of 13 and 17, which means that most teens today go to school alongside students who identify as trans.
High school and college students have ushered in an influx of questions and scenarios that their church leaders and mentors hadn’t faced growing up. They’re considering their witness in contexts where some can see it as hateful or discriminatory to believe gender remains tied to biological sex.
Northview Church in Carmel, Indiana, holds a biblically orthodox view on gender and sexuality, and high school pastor Jude Wright knows how sensitive the topic can be. He encourages students to lead with relationships with their friends and classmates, citing the example of Jesus meeting people where they were.
“There was a generation where they just tried to pound truth and pound Bible without having relationship,” said Wright. “And that’s just not the culture we live in nowadays.”
Among the youth group of about 150, students regularly ask questions about sexuality and gender. In response, Wright first points to the love and compassion in God’s character, emphasizing his goodness in the midst of identity struggles and confusion.
“They’re asking … if God is good, can you prove it to me? How can I experience …