According to Youthscape’s 2016 ‘Losing heart’ survey, half of churches never talk about relationships and sex with their young people, yet the topic was the third-highest priority for young people.
Young people are growing up in a culture saturated with sex in both mass and social media. Reports may be suggesting that young people are having less casual sex, drinking less, and smoking less, but this does not necessarily mean things are better for them than for previous generations. Research is also showing that:
· younger adults aged 16 to 24 years report feeling lonely more often than older age groups;
· erectile dysfunction is rising among younger people;
· one in five 18-24-year-olds think technology has made it harder to make real connections with others;
· 45% of young Brits say porn has been their main source of sex education; and
· the scale of sexual violence directed towards women in school has become so endemic that students are giving up on reporting it.
In short, many young people are struggling with relationships and sex, and are suffering as a result.
And in church, it seems they are often meeting a culture of silence and shame.
Author and youth leader, Rachel Gardner’s new book ‘The Sex Thing: Reimagining conversations with young people about sex’ includes the results of a survey with 318 Christian youth leaders. 57% reported that their church’s approach to talking about sex has had a negative impact, 22% a positive impact and 21% a mixed, neutral or unknown impact. These responses suggest that, in many churches, conversations about sex harbour a mix of shamefulness, silence, harm and driving young people away.
We need to do better as a church.
Christian youth workers hold a unique position in many young people's lives. So many young people trust and rely on their youth workers to help them navigate the pressures of school, culture, and more. Working in partnership with the wider family, youth workers can be catalysts for a revolution in young people’s thinking on relationships and sex.
Our Fullness Course will help equip church youth workers with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle relationships and sex education (RSE) topics in small groups and informal settings.
Young people in youth groups have many questions so the course is designed to help youth workers start to respond. To respond in practical, dynamic, and life-giving ways that help young people bring their faith and beliefs together with their relationships in authentic ways. To bring the fullness of love and truth into the complexity of life today.
We will be launching the course at the National Youth Ministry Weekend in November at a price of £80 per person for the full-day course. Look on our website for details of courses or contact us to ask about running a course for your church.
And for those youth workers who get the RSE bug, anyone who completes the Fullness Course will be able to then access our standard Esteem RSE course for half price!