Talking about pornography in Youth Ministry

in Student Issues on August 28, 2012

Last night we had our Manly Mecca kick off!  The Manly Mecca is like the men’s ministry to our youth group.  It is a gathering of high school guys that meets once a month on a Friday Night.  During this time we have one of the guys share their testimonies, do some sort of adventure, and then pass around the “whack jar.”
The concept of this gathering, the testimonies, and the adventures is something I have written about here: (  It is the “whack jar” portion of the evening I wanted to share with you in this post.  In a similar vein to the “sear jar” the “whacky jar” is a jar that students (and leaders) pay into every time they whack off.  I am not sure what the correct term for your context is, but this is what we call it.   My strongest kids pay only a couple of bucks, and the horniest drop $20.  Everyone still divides by 5 or so, but everyone owns up to their struggle and their attempt at victory So once a month we gather and goof off, talk about deep things, and hold each other accountable in our pursuit of sexual purity.
You might be asking yourself, isn’t there shame in this sort of public confession?  The answer is yes.  For all the joking around there is about it and for the assumption that they all struggle with it, there is something awful about owning publicly how much you actually struggle with it.   But because of the total ethos of our ministry it works.  And we have made one significant change in how we approach sexual purity, masturbation, and porn that has dramatically altered the course of the conversation.  It is this one simple assumption:


I have been so comfortable for so long couching this conversation in “struggling.”  This is like some weak sauce way of saying, “I try really hard to not whack off.”  But the actual confession of and honesty to the frequency of, and the grace for those in the middle of this gets left behind.  So, with one fell swoop we stopped saying that we struggle with lust and own the fact that all high school guys whack off.
If we can own this reality than we can move our ministries away from simply sin management to actual freedom and healing.  It is a crime to simply try to get our boys to lock it down, we need to actually talk about pornography in Youth Ministry.  If we admitted that whacking off is simply a symptom of our sin and brokenness, then we can be more honest about where the problem really is.
When we have these conversations with our guys all the sudden I move from students admitting to “struggling with lust” to owning their loneliness, boredom, apathy, insecurities, stress, etc.  And when we help our students understand they why they give into whacking off, then they can actually find healing and hopefully move past this habit.
Because we are honest with the reality of the role masturbation plays in the life of our high school guys, we are able to use prayer and the spirit of God to heal the root causes, and the playful shame of the whack jar to help them change their habits.
As we start our new year and ask our young men to pursue sexual purity what if we lead them in this by molding it for them.  Here are three things that we can model in our own lives:
1) Get an accountability partner.  Many of us have had these guys in our past but as we have gotten older felt like it was some sort of admition to failure by continuing these relationships.  Get over yourselves and realize how high the stakes are.  Get someone in your life who you can confess your sin to, who will pray for you and help you walk the straight an narrow.
2) Deal with the root cause.  We have spent our entire lives trying to manage this sin.  Let us get in touch with the Holy Spirit and ask that the God would reveal to us the reasons we wrestle, the triggers that cause us to fail.  Some of it is lame habit, but some of it is much deeper.  It is time to grow up and model spiritual humility and transformation.  Is it loneliness, insecurities, fear of rejection, issues in your marriage, who knows.  God does, let God have access to these subterranean issues and be willing to share this process with your students.  They need a model of someone who is continually working out their faith and continually pursuing holiness, and making space for God to mold and transform them.
3) Give up some of your freedom.  Gone are the days where a simple internet blocker or XXXchurch software on the family computer in the living room prevents us from jumping down the black hole.   Our phone is the gateway to porn for just about every guy I know.  If this is the case, lock it down.  You don’t even have to give up your phone, just a few minor inconvincests.  Ask your accountability partner to turn off Safari, YouTube, and any 17+ apps.  Did you know that any browser can get you in trouble on line? (of course you did)  So for the sake of your job, the ministry you have to students, and for your very own walk with Jesus, give up your freedom of the internet on your phone and wait til you get home or ask someone near you about googling some random fact. You will not miss it.
Ok, I hope that wasn’t too awkward.  We must be honest with where are students are really at so we can actually help them move forward in their walk with Jesus and get a handle on their habitual sin.  And maybe we could use a little more honesty with our “struggle” so we too can be the godly men that we have been called to be!

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