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How to Address Sexuality in Your Youth Group

SO WHAT DO I DO? What do we do?

SAY NO TO SHAME: You’re not going to guilt teens or shame people into following Jesus. I really have no interest in correcting some “moral standard” that is outside of God’s grace anyway. I have cried and prayed over these stats, but I’m not going to beat students up with them. One of my favorite verses in all the scriptures is the pre-fall truth that Genesis 2:25 records: Adam and Eve were both naked and they felt no shame. I think students need a better view of sexuality, not a more shame-filled one. Healthy sexual expression is just that…it is healthy. I’m going to lead them to fresh water as best I can.

INVITE AND WALK WITH STUDENTS BACK TO JESUS: I think it all boils down to, “Do I want to honor God in all I do?” If the answer is yes, then the rest will follow. I will continue to invite students to ask themselves, “Did I follow Jesus into where I am now?” If the answer is yes, then it should be good regardless of the subject we’re asking the question about. If, however, the answer is no, then the only question remaining is, “Will I follow Jesus out of where I am?” I’m committed to walking with students in this, regardless of their answers.

SAY THE HARD STUFF: I will continue to confront both the men and the women in my ministry with the love of God. I will not sit idly by while this culture destroys the dating and sexual experiences of the teens I work with. I won’t be the quiet observer. I won’t be the angry yeller. But I will be the firm reminder that there is a better way. I don’t need to be a teen’s best friend. But I refuse to let the pursuit of wanting to be liked turn my pastoral and even parental voice mute. Sometimes I have to ask questions or make observations that make me uncomfortable.

RAISE UP MEN AND WOMEN TO WALK WITH THIS GENERATION: Calling all the adults around me. It’s game on. This generation needs your wisdom and your presence. It’s time to step up our game.

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Brian Berry is a proven veteran of student ministry. He serves as the generation ministries pastor at Journey Community Church near San Diego, California, where he works directly with the high school ministry and oversees a staff that is responsible for infants through teens. Brian is also a frequent blogger, writes and teaches for youth workers, and is the author of both As for Me and My Crazy House and Criticism Bites. He speaks at various conferences, camps, and retreats for a variety of audiences. He is married to Shannon, and they have five kids.