A few months ago, I wrote an article for The Leadership Journal about how to effectively minister to students in a culture that is increasingly overly sexualized. Whether you are a parent or someone who works with students, I hope this article will help you as you invest in students lives:
If you work with teens, you have come across the following scenarios in recent years:
A dad discovers his teenage son has been accessing pornography on the smart phone they brought him last Christmas.
A teenage girl meets a boy online and begins “chatting,” only to discover the “boy” on the other end of the messages was actually a 40-year-old married man.
A mom learns from another parent that her ninth grade daughter has been using the SnapChat app to send and receive indecent images with a boy in her class. The situation worsens when the boy saves several screen shots of the images and shares them with other students, destroying the girl’s reputation.
These are nightmare scenarios. But as someone who works with teenagers, I am encountering them more and more. Maybe you have had to face similar situations. If not, it’s only a matter of time.
The idea that we can insulate our kids from a highly sexualized culture is naïve. With apps like SnapChat and Bang with Friends out there—not to mention sexually suggestive images broadcast in primetime (think Miley Cyrus’s MTV Video Music Awards “performance”) a new era has dawned. But I believe we can help them navigate this new world, and help them discover God’s best for life, relationships, and sexuality.
Through working with teenagers, I have discovered some practical approaches that can make all the difference. Here are a few ways every church leader can help teenagers navigate an overly sexualized culture and avoid the many pitfalls and pain it can bring.