As youth pastors and youth leaders, we’re always thinking of better ways to equip our teenagers to be successful when they leave the nest of our youth ministries. Within weeks of graduation, our seniors will be inundated with opportunities, temptations, and situations that will test their faith and determine the trajectory of their futures. How can we set them up to have the best possible sexual ethic as they enter their young adult years?
Here’s some things we’re trying in our context; would love to hear what you’re doing in the comments section below!
We’re committed to leading by example. Teens can see inauthenticy in adults a mile away, and they know better than anyone that actions speak louder than words. When a youth leader can sit down with a teenager and share specific things they did LAST WEEK to fortify their purity, a powerful connection is made. We’re always looking to recruit adult leaders from our church who are honest and real about their struggles; it’s critical that our teens are surrounded by people willing to relate to what they’re going through with honesty and vulnerability.
We’re trying to talk about it in large group more often. If you’ve never been accused of talking about sex too much in youth group, you probably aren’t talking about it enough. It’s constantly running through their minds, their bodies are primed and ready for it, and whether we like it or not, it’s the language of pop culture. The Bible has a lot to say on it as well, so we’re trying to bring it to the front of the room! We recently did a great series on sex, love, and dating called “Facebook Official”, which you can find over at www.downloadyouthministry.com.
We’re consistently bringing it up in our small groups. Whatever your small group ministry looks like – whether you have groups that meet in homes during the week, or as an element tagged onto the end of your crowd program, small groups are a great environment to go deeper on issues of purity. Take your group through books like Pure Eyes or a video curriculum like Pure Sex by Simply Youth Ministry. Small groups are also a great environment to teach students how to hold one another accountable, and you can help by pairing them up. If they’re using X3Watch on their computers and mobile devices, ask them to add you to their account.
We’re trying to resource our parents so they can do the heavy lifting themselves. Most parents are deeply concerned about their kids’ sexual ethics, and don’t want to hand the entire responsibility over to the church (nor should they). As pastors, we can help resource and empower them to have successful discussions with their kids. If you’re like me and you haven’t yet parented teens through their teenage years, you may feel inadequate in this realm. One thing we’re going to be trying soon for our parents is a meeting on this topic, and I’m going to invite 4-5 different parents who have navigated this stuff successfully to participate in a panel discussion. I will moderate, but the real teaching will come from these seasoned and successful parents and will give practical ideas to the other parents in the room.
We’re trying to do more than just drop a book in a teen’s lap. There are some great books and resources out there for kids and teens – way more than when I was in high school. Don’t ever discount the mentoring role you as a youth worker can have in the life of a student when you work through a book together. Instead of just handing them a book to read, what if you threw a $10 Starbucks card in the back of it, and invited them to talk about it with you when they finish?
was looking through my notes from college (this one, to be exact) for a fellow youth pastor friend the other day, and stumbled upon a few nuggets of truth from one of my classes that has proven to be super helpful. i remember running into so much tension between different people during my first couple years of ministry. if i just understood that all they wanted was to know that i was being responsible, it would’ve softened many tough conversations.
SENIOR PASTORS want to know that you are responsibly leading the ministry to spiritual maturity.
THE BOARDS (deacon, elder, trustee) want to know that you are responsibly stewarding the church’s money, time, salary, and people resources.
PARENTS want to know that you are responsibly shepherding the physical & spiritual needs of their kids.
i’ve learned that it’s not just a matter of being responsible. it’s about communicating enough with these three groups so that they know you are being responsible. unfortunately, when there’s poor communication, people tend to assume the worst, and when that happens it can get ugly.