The problem with the approach too many churches and youth pastors are taking regarding purity events like True Love Waits is to preach over and over again the risks of premarital sex. Kids have heard that so many times, they get it. They can almost finish your sentences for you while you say it to them. The issue isn’t that they don’t have enough information about the struggle for purity. It’s that they don’t have enough hope. They don’t have anything to struggle towards.
Telling a generation to wait until marriage for sex when they’ve lost hope in the concept of marriage is fruitless. Telling them to save themselves for their future spouse when they don’t plan on having a future spouse doesn’t go very far. Telling them that delaying their gratification will reap the rewards of a good marriage when so many students have never seen one in their family is like reading them a fairytale. It isn’t a part of their experience.
If we’re going to help this generation of students strive for purity, we have to lift up a picture of hope for them to know their struggle will lead to a true reward. We have to cast the vision of marriage that exceeds what our culture has shown them. We must inspire them to dream beyond the nightmares they’ve witnessed.
And that's what Jeff & Debby's events are all about.
They begin by apologizing for the fact that our generation has handed teens this lust-filled, impure culture and then placed all the responsibility on them to survive it with their purity intact. Before ever starting to talk to the students about their responsibilities in keeping pure, Jeff & Debby call on the parents to apologize for this culture outside their home, and for too many of parents inviting that culture inside their homes. They challenge the parents to understand that raising a pure teen requires a pure team. You can’t lead where you don’t live. As parents, we can’t lead our child in purity if we don’t live in purity. The loss of sexual faithfulness among our students is more a reflection of our lack of faithfulness than theirs. How dare we rail on our students about not watching some of the shows they watch when we subscribe to the channels and invite the filth into our homes. What pompous pride we have to tell them to be faithful to the Lord when they see their parents unfaithful to each other.
Once they call the parents to repentance and a commitment to their own walk of purity, Jeff & Debby turn their attention to the students. Using a sketch between Jeff and their son, Trevan, they address the awkwardness of the "Sex Talk" between parents and students. All of the teaching lines are delivered by the son in the sketch to the dad, allowing the students to hear the teaching from a peer rather than feeling preached at by adults.
Jeff & Debby usually then Skype their newly-married daughter and son-in-law in on the big screen and let their daughter talk about her passion for being modest while still being fashionably relevant, and why/how she and her husband made a successful commitment to remain pure during their 6 1/2 years of dating until marriage. As they do, they share their hope about marriage and begin to cast that vision to this generation. Trevan then does the same, as he shares his desire to love his future wife before he even meets her. He talks about the fact that his bride will be able to trust him to fulfill his vows of faithfulness to her because she will see that he has fulfilled his vows of faithfulness to the Lord.
Jeff & Debby then spend the last half of the program talking about how great marriage is and how great sex in marriage is when we follow God’s precepts. They close with their popular “Living in our Dreams” sketch to give students something to look forward to, to dream about, and to struggle towards.
Jeff states, "Proverbs 13:12 says, ' Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.' This generation is acting out sexually because their hearts are sickened by hopelessness and a loss of longing for something more.'" Debby adds, "This is why we say we’re not marriage ministers or family ministers. We minister to marriages and families because we’re in youth ministry, and as these institutions are being destroyed, we are losing our youth. We started this ministry because we could not stand by and watch that happen. We are still in this ministry for the same reason. We will devote the rest of our lives to giving students a voice in their families, and giving kids who had not dared to dream something to long for."
To schedule one of these powerful events, call Forever Families at 865-769-2611 or email us.
If you're a student who is struggling in your family or with your purity and need someone to talk to, call or email using that same information or tweet us: @jeffndebby.