This past October, I talked in church about sex. For four straight weeks.
If you’re doing the sermon math, that was over two hours of me opening a Bible and talking about sex and God in church. To singles and couples. Toddlers and teens. Dating and divorced. Widows and newlyweds. Everyone.
As I reflect back on that month with our church family, there are a few lessons I’d love to share with you:
-God’s People Talk Back—Very few people in our church talked about the struggles they had with sex . . . until I started the conversation. But then the floodgates opened—The older woman who opened up about the abuse in her past, the newlyweds who needed prayers for the “BIG struggle” in their relationship, the new Christian who realized she needed to have some conversations with her boyfriend. At times, I was shocked at how quickly people opened up, despite being new to church or not knowing me very well.
It was a lesson for every pastor, teacher, Bible study leader, parent, and friend: People talk back. If you give them the “gift of going second,” the chance not to start the conversation but continue it, people talk. They confess. They ask questions. And they listen to God’s answers.
What does that mean for you? Start conversations about sex. About depression. About addiction. About fear. About all the taboo stuff people don’t talk about . . . until someone else talks about it first. All of us want our churches and families to be safe places that erase shame and give gospel hope. And honest conversations are the way to become just that.
-God’s People Want Truth—Both our church leadership team and the Time of Grace staff wrestled with this sermon series. We didn’t want to offend or push anyone away from the Word. But guess what happened? People showed up! A lot of people! Our attendance spiked 20% when the series started. And we struggled to find seats for the second week of the series. The online video sermons reached more people than any message in recent memory. I imagine that when this series airs on Time of Grace in October 2019, lots will tune in.
What does that mean for you? That the people in your life want God’s truth. We are immersed in a world of information, but wisdom is hard to find. Young people have the world at their fingertips but no filter to figure out what is good, beautiful, and true.
Were there some awkward moments in church? Yes (like the turkey impression or the time my wife said after church, “I can’t believe you said that!”). Did some teens avoid all contact with me and their parents for four straight weeks? Sure (like the young man who blurted, “Pastor, I couldn’t look at anyone!”).
But as I spoke, week after week, I saw the look in so many eyes—they needed this. They needed God’s grace to be more than their sexual sins. They needed God’s help with their sexuality.
And don’t we Christians exist to be God’s way of helping his people?
One man emailed me the week after the first message. He wrote, “I want to thank you for the sermon series. I have been a churchgoing man . . . for 53 years and have never heard one sermon on sex.” The rest of his email was a reminder that the silence in those sanctuaries did not lead to his sanctification.
So, if I can be bold with you today, let’s let the Word and not the culture of our Christian world shape our conversations about sex. Let’s believe Paul’s promise to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful” (2 Timothy 3:16). Let’s remember the God who was not afraid to talk about sex in the one Book he wrote. Let’s stop letting the world get all the words in about the thing that our Father created.
Let’s turn one awkward “sex talk” into an ongoing series of Christ-centered, grace-and-truth “sex talks.”
Pastor Mike Novotny has served God’s people in full-time ministry since 2007 as a pastor in Madison and now Appleton, Wisconsin. He also serves as a host and speaker for the Time of Grace television program and contributes to the written resources of Time of Grace Ministry. Pastor Mike is married to Kim and has two daughters.
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