I have a book recently published by Zondervan on sexual identity and youth ministry. It is titled Understanding Sexual Identity: A Resource for Youth Ministry. In it I develop an image I’ve spoken on several times — the idea of navigating difficult terrain — and to help youth pastors become better trail guides as they work with teens who are sorting out sexual identity questions or concerns.
Here is the description from Zondervan:
Today’s youth struggle with difficult questions of sexual identity. How can a youth worker offer wise care and counsel on such a controversial and confusing subject? Mark Yarhouse, director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity, equips youth ministers so they can faithfully navigate the topic of sexual identity in a way that is honest, compassionate, and accessible.
Reframing the focus away from the culture wars, Yarhouse introduces readers to the developmental considerations in the formation of sexual identity—all of which occurs in the teen years. He offers practical and helpful ways to think about homosexuality along with suggestions for talking with people who experience same-sex attraction. He also helps parents and youth volunteers learn to graciously respond to children and teens who struggle with questions of sexual identity, and discusses how youth ministry can become more relevant in the lives of youth who are navigating these issues.
Its release coincided with speaking engagements at two Youth Specialties conferences in 2013. Those sessions were a blast. I am going back for more and am scheduled to speak at Youth Specialties conferences the fall of 2014. What excites me most is the opportunity to shift the way youth pastors think about this topic, create a climate of grace, and provide better ministry to youth.
I was especially grateful to have Wesley Hill write the forward. As a traditionally believing gay Christian, Wesley remarked how he wished his youth pastor had access to this information at that time.