A Small Group Study for Teens on Sexuality (Book Review)

Pinson, Cooper (ed). Alive: Gospel Sexuality for Students. New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC. 2018. 167 pages.

Silence is not an option. In a culture freely expressing and speaking on sexuality, the church cannot be quiet. While the need to speak up is important to the church in general, it is absolutely crucial to teach the youth of the church how to stand firm as Christians with conviction and compassion in a culture of confusion and compromise. As an associate pastor of youth and families, my passion is for these young people to see how to steward their sexuality faithfully in an entitled culture. That is why I am grateful for Alive: Gospel Sexuality for Students, a youth ministry resource edited by Harvest USA staff member and speaker Cooper Pinson.

Questions to Guide

In this 10-week small group study, students will interact with God’s design for our sexuality, what went wrong with sexuality, how to get to the heart of the problem, while addressing sensitive topics like pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, and transgender and giving guidance on subjects like dating, singleness, and marriage. Each lesson follows the structure of sharing a scenario, posing reflecting questions, considering the issue, looking at the issue in life, and summarizing the point of the lesson. The resource itself is divided into two sections: a student’s guide and a leader’s guide. The student’s guide makes it apparent the study is not intended to be lecture-based as it is filled with questions for students to work and struggle their way through. The leader’s guide provides possible answers and pointers to the questions of discussion in the student’s guide. The last section of this guide features an appendix to think through issues of abuse and rape and contains a glossary for terms that may be unfamiliar to those participating in the study.

Essential Guide for Every Youth Leader

This small group resource is an essential guide for every youth pastor and leader to use in teaching their high school students in church how their relationship with Jesus Christ empowers and equips them to stand firm in the faith and find hope in the truth. The 10-week study shows students how a biblical worldview tackles these tough topics on sexuality. The resource takes the group to Scripture in every lesson to see what the Bible says. For students, their guide provides no answers for their questions but encourages them to understand and handle their battles and struggles as they are in union with Christ as believers. For leaders, they are given possible answers to the questions in the student’s guide and are given pointers as they lead the study in a conversational and interactive manner focused on discussion and application.

A Package Deal?

Because of the distinction between the student’s guide and leader’s guide, I do wonder if this small group resource would be better as two separate books. I see the value of formatting the two guides into one book but due to the list of questions in the student’s guide and the possible answers and pointers in the leader’s guide, having them both in one place is not exactly a package deal. Splitting up the two guides into two books would make more sense in a study on such sensitive subjects. Of course, this minor critique does not take away from the content of this study.

For Churches and High Schoolers

In conclusion, this 10-week study for youth is ideal for high school students due to the nature of the addressed topics and, as the study says, “best used in gender-specific smaller group settings” (Pinson 66). This Harvest USA resource addresses a broad range of categories on sexuality that few studies have. Alive: Gospel Sexuality for Students is the resource churches need in order to challenge their youth to grow further in their Christian walk as they learn what it means to live sexually faithful and holy lives in a sexualized culture.

I received this book from New Growth Press in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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