I’ve been working in youth ministry for years, and I currently run a fellowship group out of my home, filled with rambunctious, honest to goodness teens from all walks on the faith trail. We have more girls than boys, but the few boys that do come are a significant and consistent part of the group. I love this group of kids. Oh, how I do.
I didn’t plan on running this ministry, but apparently God did and I complied. That’s the thing about serving– if you open your eyes to the needs around you and have a heart and a passion for what you see-
If you step out of your comfortable place and make the offer, God will do the rest.
This happens all the time.
It’s how God moves mountains.
So anyway, this last month the boys couldn’t make the group due to traveling. And as far as I knew, there would be no other guest appearances (Kids are ALWAYS welcome to bring friends/boyfriends/neighbors, etc), so I wanted to focus on the intimate and sometimes uncomfortable topics of sex, modesty and purity.
I mean, any teen wants to talk about all that jazz in a group, right?
Especially a Christian ministry group.
And man, it’s every ministry leader’s dream to approach such subjects.
Here’s what I want every teen ministry leader to know: YOU MUST TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS.
I fear too many Christian organizations are turning their heads the other way, avoiding the unavoidable, silencing the epidemic that is taking over the culture of our youth, simply because this topic is a threat to the Christian message. That this risky discussion may open up the gateway to sin and God forbid we open the door and allow dangerous and damaging ideas into our innocent and protected cherubs’ minds. And then there’s the obvious: The conversation around sex is controversial and uncomfortable at best.
Oh dear me, we need to get over it and do the hard thing.
We need to all take a deep prayerful breath and…
Because they’re there.
Sex is everywhere and our kids are witnessing it, being tempted by it, and sometimes forced into it. It’s true. Oh, please believe me. And don’t think for a minute that it’s not alive and well in the private schools, because it is.
As 14 girls and I talked for two straight hours about EVERYTHING- openly, daringly, compassionately, lovingly- One girl interjected…
“We all know this stuff happens, but nobody talks about it.”
During this incredible group discussion, we covered topics related to modesty, hormones, purity, expectations, peer pressure, pregnancy, abortion, homosexuality, rape, relationships, setting boundaries, honoring their bodies, saying no, being cautious, how to be safe, wanting to look pretty, attraction, drugs and alcohol, uncomfortable social situations, and the weight of any decision they make when it comes to allthesethings. We dove into the Bible to look at what God thinks about it all and we learned the limits scriptures set are done so to protect and prevent harm to our bodies, and hurt to our hearts.
It seems our Creator is madly in love with us, and wants desperately to take care of us, so He provided instruction and guidance to insure our safety and our sanctity.
We talked about experiences, feelings, worries, and helpful advice around these topics.The girls were open, honest, and fully engaged, as the rushing waters flooded through this newly opened dam. They asked tons of questions, interacted with one another offering ideas and advice while they agreed on many tough issues and shared some pretty awful stories.
As I listened and supported and encouraged and guided these girls through such tricky talks, I nervously wondered how many other youth groups address this really personal and private stuff. I mean, do other ministry groups allow kids to share things like this?
“Two sixth grade boys had sex in the bathroom at our school.”
“They found a condom in the pool bathroom after the middle school swim party.”
I propose ALL teen ministries must.
These kids need to talk about it. We can’t control what goes on in their world around them, but we can surely help walk them through it. How would they learn to manage these life altering decisions without trusted Christian mentors and friends to lead the way? Our kids need Faith leaders to intervene, intercede, interact, and most of all, listen to what they are going through out there in the teen world. If we don’t know, we can’t help.
God forbid we escort our kids on their faith walk in such denial.
We can’t fail them in this way. They need to talk about it, sort it out, ask questions, and build strong support networks with other friends that will help them make wise decisions in honoring their body and having the confidence to do so. We need to dig into the dirty stuff they know, they fear, they are exposed to, whether we like it or not. There is no protective shield around them, despite our need to believe this is true. This group I lead is full of really good kids.The age range is from middle school up through high school, and a few beyond. They go to ten different schools in several districts, some public, some private, so I have a good assortment of information aggregated from these various communities to conclude this truth:
SEX IS GOING ON EVERYWHERE.
Of course parents should first and foremost be talking to their kids about these heavy private matters, but often this age group is uncomfortable doing that. Teens need a trusted leader, mentor, and friend in their youth leader. They need someone who allows them to share the real grit of what goes on- without judgment and conditional leverage. The only way our youth will be empowered with conviction and confidence, wisdom and discernment in making these critical decisions, is if they have a chance to be heard, understood, and helped with clear biblical wisdom and profound grace and love.
The girls are smart chicks. They talked about the boys needing to be in on this conversation and I whole-heartedly agreed. I think it’s important for the sexes to be separate at first, so they can talk through personal issues that may be difficult to share around the other sex. (Ideally, a man should be leading the discussion with the boys). And eventually, the discussion needs to be with both genders together– discussing all these topics and working through issues and experiences, so they can combine their opinions and understand each other’s views.
Once we fill the boys in on everything, I plan to have them all come up with a Faithful Tribe Pledge– one that outlines critical decisions that will honor their Godly convictions. My goal is to give them this safe faith community full of support and camaraderie where they find strength and confidence in their worth and they have assurance there is a band of people behind them, loving them and joining them in walking the hard road of adolescence together.
I pray ALL Christian teens have this, too.