For any of us who have grown up going to youth group we have those awkward flashbacks to the “guy/girl split” nights. You just finished a rousing worship set of Lord I Lift Your Name on High, Amazing Love, & Hungry, got comfy in your seat and are waiting for the for the teaching time. Then you hear these words, “Tonight we are going to split up guys and girls.” Suddenly there is this all knowing sense of we are going to get “The Talk.” You break off from the other gender and try not to make eye contact as you go to separate rooms.
Many of you can relate to that scenario and even now you may be inwardly cringing... I still remember the first time I was giving “The Talk.” I was in a hotel in China with a group of young adult girls and before I started I had this epiphany of "Oh my goodness, I have now become 'That Leader.'"
Believe it or not, somewhere along the way, through some weird twist, you are now “That Leader” giving “The Talk.”
I work with a missions organization called Campus Target (CT). We start churches on college campuses in Asia and one of the ways we accomplish this goal is by mobilizing young adults to give a year and invest in cities in Asia. In the past eight years we have sent over 180 young adults to Asia. It is awe inspiring to see how God is using this upcoming generation to change lives and eternities.
As these young adults are moving into the purposes that God has for them, the enemy is trying everything he can to sideline them from the mission. Through the years CT has seen a rising trend in the young adults that apply to come with us in the area of sexual sin. Our application process is no joke. We receive a personal and detailed application, three references, and have a face to face interview.
We didn’t wake up one day as an organization and say, “Let’s make this process as intrusive and drawn out as we can.” Rather, our application has evolved over years after seeing fantastic things happen with young adults in China (and by fantastic I mean; say goodbye to your team you are getting on a plane in two days to go home, type of fantastic).
Sexual sin and sexual struggle is no respecter of persons.
I am talking men and women, can name every book and verse in the Bible or just got saved last year type of persons. The area of sexual temptation and sexual sin is growing in and out of the church. There have been times in CT when out of twenty plus applicants less than five have answered no to having a history with or are currently struggling with pornography, mastrubation or sex. Less than five!
It shouldn’t be so surprising with the amount of sexuality in our culture today. All you have to do is turn on the tv for one minute and you will be bombarded with sexual images and innuendos. Youth today can access pornography in less than thirty seconds on their phones. Middle schoolers and high schoolers are experiencing and partaking in sexual activities that would have been unheard of or extremely rare ten years ago.
And now as these middle schoolers and high schoolers are transitioning into adulthood I see the effects that it has on them. I have young adults (women), who open up to me in an interview about their struggles with masturbation, sexual ties, or sexual abuse. I ask them, “have you ever shared this with anyone else?”
Sadly, their answer most times is “no.”
The embarrassment, shame and hurt is kept inside. What I want to communicate is that the above conversation isn’t the exception, it is the norm. From the moment that they share, we begin to work with them on opening up with a leader or mentor in their lives and starting the process to freedom and healing.
Did I do something amazing in the interviews to draw it out of them? Do I have an uncanny ability to have them confess their deep, dark secrets? The short answer is no. I simply opened the door to conversation on the topic. I broached the subject, I said the “m” word (masturbation) and gave them a chance to share their struggle in a non-judgmental, grace filled environment. Now for the first time they are getting free of their guilt and shame and realizing they are not alone in this struggle.
There is freedom.
My question to you is how can we start these conversations sooner? How can we prevent them from going down the path of sexual sin? How can we give our youth a solid foundation on sexuality?
Here is a good place to start. Find a time to get together with your leadership team and answer these 8 questions:
- How often are we talking about pornography, mastrubation and saving sex for marriage?
- Are we just talking about it or are we providing an avenue for our youth to open up and get freedom and healing?
- What are the topics we hit when we talk about sexuality? List them out.
- Have we ever talked about masturbation and pornagraphy with the girls in our youth group? Why or Why not?
- What do our youth think about sex, pornography, mastrubation, sexuality?
- How do our youth think God views their sexuality?
- How can we develop a system where the youth are opening up to us about their sexual struggles and breakthrough is being made in their lives?
- What curriculum could we use?
The question to answer is how can you create a regular healthy rhythm for talking about sexuality in your youth group? Find time as a team to get a plan together and start implementing it.
Sexual sin is the biggest stronghold I have see in the lives of young adults. My plea to you is to get real and honest with your youth. Ask them the uncomfortable questions, help them avoid the trap of sexual sin and get them rooted in a godly view on sexuality. Start an ongoing conversation. Then when I ask the question in my interview, “Have you ever shared this with anyone else?” Their reply will be, “Yes.”
Jodi Seidler is a graduate of Elim Bible Institute. She has been serving with Campus Target for the past 7 years with her time split between living in Asia and living in America. She is involved in evangelism, discipleship and church planting. Jodi is currently helping lead Campus Target’s internship for long term workers and coordinate Short Term Trips to Asia.