In a culture where sexualization is prevalent, what can youth workers do to promote purity for students?
Logan Rogers, youth worker with junior high ministry Heirborn, based in Clear Lake, Iowa, offered some insight as to why purity is important: “In today’s world, impurity is only a few seconds away. Instilling purity into young students is invaluable to their spiritual development.”
Rogers added, “Purity not only keeps you from walking down a variety of wrong paths, but helps you to gain spiritual discipline.”
Living a pure life as a youth worker is the first step to being able to reach students. “You can’t lead someone to a place you haven’t been yourself,” Rogers said. “The most effective approach to promoting purity is just ensuring that the leaders are following Christ and promoting purity in their own lifestyles first.”
Reaching students on a personal level is key to establishing open channels of communication in a youth worker/student relationship. Rogers cited these relationships as “a major way our youth group promotes purity.”
John Lafevers, who is currently working with Youth Outreach United in Suwanee, Ga., said purity is a difficult topic for youth workers as families take different approaches when explaining it to their children.
Lafevers continued, “We typically have dealt with the subject by citing specific passages that speak directly to the topic, and we try to limit ourselves on too much extrapolation upon those verses. Purity is a fairly common topic in Scripture, but it is almost always dealt with in the larger context of spiritual growth and sanctification.”
“My goal as a youth worker is to promote spiritual growth and sanctification in such a way that purity becomes an easier decision for each individual student. Purity is a hard subject to help teens understand because it isn’t all about how you use your body or affections; it’s about your heart and desire to serve God in all areas of your life. This is a deeper and more difficult idea to get across and even harder to emulate in all walks of life,” LaFevers concluded. Purity is much more than just how students act toward the opposite sex; it is also a part of a relationship with God.
Youth worker Lindsey Calhoun has been involved in high school ministry for two years. She works as an adult sponsor for the high school youth group Brothers and Sisters Eternally (BASE) in Clear Lake, Iowa.
She also has been involved with a Christian convention called The Supermodel Conference. Headed by former Miss Iowa 1997 Sherry Riley Prescott, the conference emphasizes purity for women through speech, appearance and lifestyle choices.
“I think youth workers should be concerned with purity because of what
Responsible for building relationships with students, Calhoun cited the monthly small group Bible studies with freshman to senior girls as one of the most important outreaches of the youth group. Additionally, BASE holds a purity night for its students.
“The youth group promotes purity by having a gals/guys night. We recently had one of these nights; we started out with a skit for the girls, which showed how once you give your heart away (sometimes even just a piece), it effects the end result of who gets it…We also have a night when we sign contracts to stay pure [until marriage],” Calhoun said.
The senior pastor of Evangelical Free Church of Clear Lake, Dan Jordan, also has spoken with students about how purity within dating can be accomplished.
Calhoun also likes to set a personal example by wearing a purity ring on her wedding finger. “It’s a great conversation starter because it’s on my wedding ring finger. I’ve gotten chances to explain to the girls why I wear it, and purity is so important. I try to work purity into my small group lessons and talk to some of the girls one-on-one to see where they are at with their purity—if they are struggling or just have lots to say about purity.”
Calhoun’s commitment to the issue of purity stems from a strong desire for her students to have lives that please God. She said, “My heart yearns for them to live pure lives.”
She concluded, “But whether you are male or female, young or old, we have to live lives of purity because that is what God wants from us…It’s also about how you act around others, how you think of yourself and how you love God. Communication and actions are the greatest tools we have to tell others about purity. The students, whatever age they are, look up to the youth workers.”
Rogers said the youth group leaders are careful to not overstress purity, however. He noted why a balance is needed: “A lot of the people I know who use drugs say they got the idea from the DARE program. I’ve taken that idea into the issues of purity. If you overemphasize one area, then maybe kids will start getting the idea to try some of it. Having other things for your students to do keeps their minds off impure things.”