When I teach, I am methodical about connecting biblical truth to a student’s everyday life. I bet you are as well. Pastors pray and work through their lessons to ensure their group hears God’s Word and can apply it to their daily lives. We proclaim and aim to connect truth.
One of the areas I weave into as many talks and conversations as I can is the topic of sexual sin.
I feel like I teach about sex, dating, and relationships all the time. I vlog to answer questions about relationships, I blog about it, I mention dating almost every week in the context of the sermon and passage we are walking through, and I spend four of the thirty-two weeks of our Midweek services talking specifically about sex, dating, and relationships. Our senior pastor preaches about relationships, purity, and community. To top it off, our group leaders often engage in dialogue about relationships and dating.
I thought our student ministry was sharing light, encouragement, and truth about dating, sex, and relationships. Rarely does a week go by that dating, relationships, pornography, or sex isn’t talked about in a Midweek or main worship service at our church.
Until I went to our summer camp.
A group of our junior high girls were sitting at lunch talking about lessons from camp Bible studies. As the discussion rolled on one of the students said, “We do a horrible job talking about sex in church. We don’t talk about it enough. It is literally the number one thing people talk about and struggle with at school. They are either having sex, looking for sex, or thinking about
how they can have sex. Even some of the Christians are getting pregnant in our school. We need to do more.”
This student is correct, sex is one of the biggest struggles of our culture. From sexual identity, promiscuity, and digital dating to pornography and emotional boundaries, our students are in a constant conversation and battle against sex.
How can we do more? Every sermon and lesson can’t be specifically about sex, can it?
As student pastors, we need to do more to not only address the issue of sexual temptations but also offer space for restoration for those who have crossed emotional, physical, and digital boundaries.
Thankfully the conversation of sex in church isn’t as taboo as it was a few decades ago. The church has become more vocal about issues surrounding sexual sin. Now it’s time for student ministries to take another step from being vocal to extending hope to students who are trapped by sexual temptations. We must communicate the truth about sexual sins and extend the love and hope that comes from the Gospel of Jesus.
Before we jump in to the post, it is important for you to understand your culture, your leadership, and your parents. As middle school leaders it is important to frame all of these conversations around families. View these suggestions as ways you can talk with both students and parents about relationships and sexual sin.
There are plenty of practical ways you can include parents in on these conversations:
- Record talks about sex so parents can watch
- Give parents the scripts from your talks a week before you teach.
- Periodically suggest books and resources to parents about dating and technology.
- Record a FB Live where you answer questions that parents have on the topic.
Four Ways Student Pastors Need to Talk About Sex
Talk about sex frequently, but don’t be on a soapbox.
Students know that the Bible and the church are against sex outside of marriage. Many of them even know that sex is a gift from God that should be enjoyed in marriage. If they have a biblical understanding, even a surface-level one, of the dangers and blessings of sex then why are so many of them struggling with sexual temptations?
Sexual temptations prey on more than one’s physical desires. Sexual sin is based in struggles of self-worth, power, control, identity, and the pursuit of happiness.
As youth leaders, it is our responsibility to talk frequently about sex in light of the Gospel. Sex isn’t the greatest interaction a human can experience. Dating isn’t the greatest relationship humans were created for. Knowing someone in a relationship pales in comparison to the way Jesus knows us. We must resist the urge to be on a soapbox about the dangers of sex and elevate our weekly teaching that Jesus, not sex, relationships, wealth, or success will bring lasting wholeness, identity, love, and satisfaction. Dethrone sexual sin by elevating the full-truth of the Gospel of Jesus.
Talk about practical and biblical advice about dating and emotional boundaries.
Students know that sexual sin brings heartache and pain but most of them don’t know how to flee sexual sin. Teenagers are looking for practical and biblical advice about how to navigate dating and emotional boundaries. Can dating be done for the glory of God? I believe so. But we need to compassionately communicate ways that students can maintain emotional, physical, and digital boundaries against sexual sin.
Talk about how parents can navigate the digitalization of relationships and sex.
I was the last generation to grow up without an iPhone. I graduated high school in May 2006, and in January 2007 the first iPhone was announced. Dating in high school was vastly different for me than what teenagers are experiencing today. I had to walk up to the front door and meet parents before I picked a girl up for a date. This one is hard to believe, but I had to call a landline and ask a parent if I could talk on the phone with a girl because text messaging wasn’t unlimited! Many of you remember how different dating and relationships were in the old days.
Parents are desperately looking for help to navigate how to protect their students in an overly connected culture. They need encouragement as they help their students put up guardrails against sexting, pornography, bullying, and constant connectivity to a boy or girl. Parents need information on how to speak with a son or daughter who has crossed physical, emotional, or
Youth pastor, your influence can only go so far. If we care about our students, we must begin the
conversation with parents who are overwhelmed with raising their kids in a digital world.
Talk about forgiveness, grace, and redemption in Jesus.
The reality is that many students have crossed emotional, physical, and digital boundaries only to
find themselves feeling hopeless and alone. The church must continue to speak not only about
the dangers of sexual sin but about the goodness of Jesus that heals the broken and restores the
Regardless of the mistakes, pains, and decisions made, Jesus is full of grace, compassion,
forgiveness, and redemption. Students are looking for hope. Their past sin doesn’t have to define
them. Extending the “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:5) will look like student ministries warning
about the pain and also extending the hope of Jesus to remove the stain of sin.
– Chase Snyder
1. How are we resourcing parents to talk about sexual sin?
2. What dating and relationship questions are our students asking?
3. How can we answer these questions to help parents and students navigate our overly sexualized culture?