Shawn Harrisonfrom My Recommended Reading List (Part 12 of 12)

One of my goals for this blog in 2013 is to spotlight my “Recommended Reading List”. “Ministering To Gay Teenagers: Practical Help For Youth Workers and Families” by Shawn Harrison is the selection for December. To view the complete list of my favorite books on the subject of same-sex attractions, click this link: My List of Recommended Books

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t agree with every single idea, concept or thesis discussed in every book on my list. But each selection contributes insight and understanding to the subject.

In my twenty years of working in youth and education ministries, my passion has always been focused on teens and young adults. Throughout this time I have been able to develop a niche curriculum for my students and staff that centers on interpersonal relationships and sexuality. I am proud to have added this work by Shawn Harrison to our core course of study and to our accompanying resource library.

Outline and Summary of Content

“Ministering To Gay Teenagers” is a simple and compassionate (but strong) introduction to a personal and sensitive topic. One of its advantages over similar volumes is its concise length – 100 pages (print version), 50 pages (e-book version); a quick read with immediate applications.

Chapter 1 – The Journey

The central theme of this chapter (and really the entire book) is the power of being authentic – with ourselves, with others and with our Lord.

Chapter 2 – When a Student Comes Out

Counsel for the Student

  • talk to a trusted friend about what is going on inside
  • take someone with you when you’re ready to tell your parents
  • tell your parents face-to-face, not through a letter
  • be ready to not get the reaction you’re hoping for

Counsel for the Parents

  • this section outlines communication with your child, your spouse (or significant other), your other children, God, your trusted friends and counselors

Counsel for the Youth Worker

  • learn more about homosexuality
  • build authentic relationships with your students
  • help calm the family’s anxieties (7 suggestions are offered)
  • make your ministry a safe place for everyone
  • prayer

Chapter 3 – Ministering to Gay Students

  • the need to acknowledge the school and home environment of many gay teens may be hostile and/or unstable
  • the need to acknowledge the unique (privileged) opportunities youth workers and youth ministry have to impact the lives of gay teens
  • the need to acknowledge our own personal views, values, fears, motivations and experiences regarding sexuality – and how our attitudes help or hinder our effectiveness when working with our students
  • the need to acknowledge the long-term investment in the lives of our students and in the culture of our student ministries
  • the need to acknowledge and nurture our students’ relationship with Christ
  • the need to acknowledge that we are not God; that we need to know when to release control of (responsibility for) someone else’s life
  • the need to acknowledge that there is a realistic and biblical hope we can impart to all of our students
  • the need to acknowledge that “in helping gay students to respond to God’s message of love and redemption effectively, it is also wise to help straight students understand their gay peers” (page 48)

Chapter 4 – Helping Parents Love Their Gay Child

The first half of this chapter revolves around the coming out conversation and what parents can do to begin dealing with their thoughts and emotions. The second half is geared toward individuals who are in a position to provide emotional, spiritual and practical support for parents.

Chapter 5 – Parent FAQ

In this section, Shawn answers eight questions from his blog . . .

  1. What do we tell our other children about their gay brother/sister?
  2. How do we deal with other family members’ rejection and fears?
  3. I think my child is gay. What should I do?
  4. I caught my son viewing gay porn. Help!
  5. Help, my daughter has a girlfriend!
  6. My child is getting bullied in school; what should I do?
  7. Is it inevitable that my gay son will get AIDS or kill himself?
  8. If my gay child acts upon their same-sex attractions, are they still a Christian?

Chapter 6 – The Next Steps

The last section is my favorite because it magnifies three qualities I talk about all the time on this blog and in my personal ministry – being responsible, being authentic and being proactive. Additionally, Harrison presents nearly 100 introspective and action-oriented questions for youth workers, other youth/student ministry staff members, family members and the church (leadership and members) to wrestle with.

Our call to action should include sharing information and resources like this book with everyone who works with our kids – parents, church leaders, youth workers and teachers. This is the beginning of a long journey for many of us. What will you and I do now to minister to LGBT teens and adults as the Lord directs us?



Links and Resources

(1) Update: The revised version of this book was released in March 2014. Click this link to read Shawn’s announcement of the re-release and to

Preview a free chapter

(2) You can order this book directly from Simply Youth Ministry (here’s the link):

Ministering To Gay Teenagers: Practical Help For Youth Workers and Families

(3) Or from the (here’s the link):

Ministering To Gay Teenagers: Practical Help For Youth Workers and Families

(4) Shawn is the founder of Six:11 Ministries, an online ministry resource that proclaims God’s identity and wholeness. He specializes in training youth workers and church leaders in ministering to the gay community and working with gay teens and their families. This is the link to his awesome blog:

(5) The following article by Shawn is one of the first I recommend to individuals involved in church leadership and youth ministry leadership:

Building A Restorative Community: The Church As A Restorative Community

“It’s one thing to reshape your student ministry to be a safe place where LGBT teenagers can come and experience Jesus. It’s another thing to help your larger church community to refocus itself in being a safe place. Therefore, it is very important for the entire leadership team of a church to lead and carry this vision, in order to effectively minister to gay teenagers and adults. If you’re a senior pastor or a member of your church leadership, I want to share some areas you need to wrestle with and process through, then give suggested answers and ideas that you can implement in your congregation . . “

To continue reading this article click here.

(6) (From their website) “ is a place to discuss the messy issues that youth workers find themselves involved in because of the youth culture that surrounds us.” In the summer of 2013, Shawn took part in their online panel discussion “How Is Your Youth Ministry Serving Gay Teens?” Here’s the video:


© Darrell Martin and, 2013.

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