The church is essential in leading men and women out of homosexuality because “counseling alone is no good,” an Indianapolis pastor told about 40 attendees at a General Assembly-related luncheon sponsored Tuesday.

“Not everyone needs a counselor,” the Rev. Brad Grammar, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church of the Presbyterian Church in America in Indianapolis, told the OneByOne-sponsored luncheon. “Community is frequently more valuable, and that’s what the church has to offer.”

OneByOne was created “to address the needs of those in conflict with their sexuality.”

But the church “hasn’t done a very good job of ministering with those trapped in homosexuality,” Grammar said. “It has been reluctant to struggle with and talk about these difficult issues of unwanted sexual attractions.”

Perhaps the church’s worst offense has been its indifference. “Silence always communicates negatively,” Grammar said. “Because of our avoidance, our lack of teaching and not openly loving these brothers and sisters, they have grown to expect nothing of us.”

In research he has conducted into attitudes of gays and lesbians toward the church, Grammar said he has discovered a deep-seated desire “for better community and healthier relationships.” The church, which claims to be the body of Christ, he said, “should be providing the safe places where openness and healing can happen.

“Without Christ, there is only therapy,” Grammar concluded. “With Christ, there is redemption.”