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What does our Youth Ministry teach about Sex?

St. Stephen’s wants to partner with families to raise great kids. RELATIONSHIPS is a weekend seminar designed to help parents and students talk about love, sex, and relationships. This is based on the assumption that if the church can help kids and parents talk about this, then they will be able to talk about just about anything.

RELATIONSHIPS is for 9th-12th graders and their parents or guardians.

The next event for Middle Schoolers will be in 2018!  Take a look below at the curriculum.


What is it?

  • A weekend event for young people and their parents
  • A celebration of the wonder of sexuality & being created in God’s image
  • A challenge to use God’s gift of sexuality wisely
  • An opportunity to learn and grow closer as a family in a relaxed, fun atmosphere

It is a communication seminar on the topic of human sexuality—believing that if families can talk openly about sexuality, that may open the door to talk openly about a host of other subjects.

We begin from the perspective that our sexuality is a good gift from God and should be celebrated!  We were created as sexual beings on purpose as a part of God’s plan.  The course goes on to explore what it means to be a good steward of the marvelous gift of our sexuality that God has given us.


How does it work?

Melany Burrill, a, experienced, trained, certified sexuality educator, leads participants in a teaching-learning event that utilizes:

  • games
  • discussions
  • a variety of learning experiences
  • adult volunteers from your church
  • a mixture of small group and large group activities
  • parents and youth in separate groups AND together

All courses:

  • explore issues of sexuality in a relaxed, open, fun, Christian atmosphere
  • help youth discover the values held by parents, other youth, themselves, and the Christian faith concerning sexual decision making
  • have ample opportunities to get their factual questions about sexuality answered


What does it cover?

It is a comprehensive sexuality education seminar that covers:
  • human growth and development
  • contraception – including abstinence
  • parent/child communication
  • resources we have as Christians to deal with sexuality
  • sexual orientation & gender identity
  • physical changes of puberty
  • self esteem
  • decision-making
  • love and intimacy
  • reproductive health
The event explores:
  • facts
  • feelings
  • attitudes
  • values
  • beliefs
  • information

Is there a high school version?

Yes! It’s called “Relationships” and it will be offered in 2017.

What do participants say about this course?

The opportunities for youth to talk openly and frankly with other youth and the chance for parents to dialogue with other parents are often cited in evaluations as strong points of the weekend.  Another big plus of the seminar approach is the just plain fun of participating together with other families from your church!

Here’s what youth have said about the weekend:

  • I liked the total openness with both teens and adults. Nothing was taboo.
  • I liked meeting new people, discovering responsibilities, and learning about myself while having a real good time.
  • I liked the openness. Every activity that we did was fun and informative.
  • I learned a lot about contraceptives and words I didn’t know. I learned a lot about other peoples’ beliefs and morals.


These programs are a process

We know that people grow in faith through experience and reflection not just facts and information poured into the developing Christian.  As human beings we are complex.  The facts about sex and sexuality are the easy part—but who we are as sexual beings includes the whole complexity of our biology, our emotions, our interpersonal relationships, our spiritual selves…

Taking all this into account, these events provide a variety of learning activities that build skills and present opportunities for participants to examine, strengthen, and articulate their values and beliefs as Christians.   United Methodists use the Bible and our Social Principles as foundations for belief; reason, tradition, and experience also play important roles.


These programs are abstinence-based.  The value of sexual abstinence is woven throughout.  But that does not mean that we avoid discussions of contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, masturbation or other difficult topics.  These topics are approached from the angles of 1) What are the facts and  2) How can we best be good stewards of God’s gift of our sexuality.


These events do not produce young Christians who recite answers to life’s difficult questions.  But rather, they are designed to equip young Christians with skills of moral decision-making that will last a lifetime, growing as they grow.  The goal is to empower young people to face life’s challenges, certain of God’s never-ending love for them, knowing their parents’ beliefs and values, with critical thinking skills and the ability to discern for themselves what path God would want for them.


Meet the Facilitator: Melany Burrill, a self-proclaimed “genetic United Methodist,”  has been teaching sexuality education for young people and their parents in churches for more than 25 years.  She has a master’s degree in Religious Education from Wesley Seminary and served a local church as Education Director for 16 years. She is the author of the book All God’s Children — Teaching Children about Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity as well as a curriculum for churches.