Having “The Talk” by Chris Sasser

If you’ve spent any time with teenagers, you know the topic of dating and sex is at the top of their minds. It’s difficult to get away from. We know that their entertainment choices, their social media feeds, and their everyday conversations are saturated with images and ideas about sex and dating. As a youth leader, you are in a unique position to help the students in your care into a healthy mindset when it comes to their dating life. As you contemplate how to wade into these waters, here are a few things to think about:


  1. Don’t avoid the topic. As already mentioned, they are thinking about it, seeing images of it, and talking about it with one another, so why not talk about it at church? When the church stays silent on issues that might be hard to talk about, teens begin to wonder if the church cares or can practically help them along their journey. 


2.     When it comes to addressing the topic, this is where it can often get messy. So many people have so many opinions on how to address this topic, and teens can often get lost in what they think the church believes. You will obviously need to get clarity from your pastor or senior leader on certain parts of the conversation. Try to be as clear as you can about your church’s thoughts on the issues.


3.     Talk about making wise choices and having “sexual integrity.” No matter where your church or denomination stands on issues of sexuality, I think we can all get behind the idea of encouraging teens to make wise choices and develop integrity in this area of life. They need to learn how to create healthy boundaries that will lead them to the type of life that God wants for them.


4.     Equip your leaders to have these conversations and give them clarity. Most volunteers feel ill-equipped to lead students through these issues, but they are often the people who are closest to the action and have the best opportunity to shape the hearts and minds of the teens. Help your leaders have the information they need and the confidence to step into these difficult yet critical conversations.


5.     Help parents have the tools they need to talk about it. Most moms and dads also feel unequipped to have these increasingly awkward conversations with their teens. Yet we know that parental influence is so important in life and faith development. Do your best to encourage parents and give them the tools they need to begin and sustain conversations about dating and sex. If parents avoid leading their teens and pointing them in the right direction, teens will begin to wonder if their parents even care about the choices they make in this area of life. 


Let’s face it; this topic can be awkward for all of us. But we have to remember that the youth in our care are forming what they believe and how they will behave in this important area of life. Not to be too dramatic, but they are in a battle in this area. Make sure you, as a youth leader, are in the battle with them and are helping them and their parents navigate this topic in the best way they can.