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An interview with Nicholas Black of Harvest USA

21 Jan Posted by in Interviews | Comments Off on An interview with Nicholas Black of Harvest USA
An interview with Nicholas Black of Harvest USA

An interview with Nicholas Black of Harvest USA
About God’s Design for Sexuality in a Changing Culture

There is no doubt our cultural perspectives and attitudes about sexual issues have greatly changed in recent years. It seems everyone is asking questions surrounding gender identity, same-sex attraction, and same-sex marriage, with the answers to those questions very different than they were even a decade ago. But how do Christians answer those questions, especially when God’s answers haven’t changed?

In a new 15-session video series designed for Sunday school and small group settings, God’s Design for Sexuality in a Changing Culture equips churches to think honestly and biblically about sexuality and identity. Participants learn how to engage opposing views with truth and love, how to minister to those who struggle sexually, and how to discuss sexuality with courage and care in the Church.

Developed by Harvest USA, each 30-minute video is accessible and comes with a leader’s discussion guide and participant outline. Churches can create a safe space for groups to talk openly about difficult issues including gender identity, same-sex attraction, same-sex marriage, pornography, and how to raise sexually-healthy children and protect them in an internet world.

Click here to watch a short video about God’s Design for Sexuality in a Changing Culture.

Q: Why did Harvest USA choose to make this a video series? In what ways does this format work differently than a more traditional book study?

The fifteen videos in this series are topics we are frequently asked by churches to speak on. However, our staff isn’t able to travel to do this series in every church that requests, plus that can be costly for all parties involved. We decided to record each talk, reduce the content to a 30-minute session and provide a discussion guide so churches and small groups could interact with the material, almost as if we were there.

By showing the video teaching in a group context, we think it provides an environment for discussion and dialogue. People will watch the same video at the same time, so that means everyone hears the same material. In an age where videos are viewed more than books are read, we think this will entice more people to listen to these important messages and engage them in discussion.

Q: Why is it important for Christians to speak about sexual issues with both truth and love?

These issues today are emotionally charged! People who hold orthodox views feel threatened by pressures put upon them to change their views. Believers are increasingly confused about what to believe on these issues, as they are inundated with alternative viewpoints while, at the same time, not able to articulate why the Scriptural position on sex, sexuality and gender remains relevant and true.

The church needs to get its people talking! But talking also invites listening, so if we create a context for safe discussions, we can talk about Scriptural truth in a loving way that will go a long way toward helping people see and understand the reasons why God’s design for sex and sexuality is good for each one of us individually and for society at large.

If we can do this within the church, talking respectfully with truth and love, then we can model the way to speak with those who do not believe what Scripture teaches. These are intensely personal issues, and those who do not follow Scripture here feel threatened by any talk from a religious or faith perspective. By speaking intelligently, and with respect and love, we potentially gain a hearing, and that is typically the way God works to change hearts and minds.

Q: Sexual issues are often difficult to discuss in group settings. How does this study help make participants feel comfortable?

The series with its group discussion questions put the issues out on the table in a non-threatening way for people to discuss. Both the Scriptural and the cultural perspectives are examined and done so without disrespecting any group or perspective.

The discussion questions are not intended to get people to expose their own struggles, but to talk about areas of weakness and struggle in the wider context of seeing how the gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to trust him to help us when we struggle. The gospel tells us that we all are broken and in need of the same help God is gracious to give: the power of a new heart that is freely offered in Christ.

The gospel is about the power of God to enable us to change and grow, especially when we feel stuck and trapped in patterns of sexual struggle and sin. Hearing about that hope gives strugglers a way to ask for help (say, in a personal way with a class/group leader after the discussion is over).

Q: What types of groups are this study most intended for?

It’s ideal for Sunday school or a small group. There are topics within this series that a group of parents can view to understand and learn how to help their children think biblically about sex, sexuality, and gender. Men’s and women’s groups can utilize this as a series. Youth groups can also tackle this material.

Because it’s designed to get people talking, it’s best to show these videos in smaller groups rather than large ones, although a large group format can break into small groups for the discussion time.

Q: You mention the study will help participants raise sexually-healthy children. Why is that important?

The younger generation is on the front lines of a post-Christian culture that disseminates its views in an age of rapid information technology. Opinions, viewpoints, worldviews, beliefs, are coming at our kids like a tsunami, shaping their minds and hearts. Our kids are, as Paul wrote about in Ephesians 4, “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

Our children are exposed to ideas, images, and content that we cannot protect them from. We should not seek to shelter our children about sex, sexuality, and gender; we must engage them with a biblical vision of how God calls us to live. Helping them understand why God created sex, sexuality, and gender within his gracious design while helping our kids know why the culture believes what it does, is the best way to train them in the way of the Lord to live lives of sexual integrity.

Q: Are there other resources on this topic available that may be helpful?

With each video segment, the participant is given a handout that has links to online resources for further exploration of the subject.

Q: Please further describe your work at Harvest USA. How did your experience at Harvest USA impact the creation of this study?

I oversee, create, and edit the resources that we produce as a ministry for the church. One thing that involves is reading, understanding, and listening to the numerous voices, both inside and outside the church, that are shaping how people are thinking (and living) on issues of sex, sexuality, and gender. If the church is going to speak cogently to the culture, then we have to understand not just what we believe, but why we do so. Then, we have to speak that into the perspectives the culture is proclaiming.

In this ministry, and also being an elder in my church for the past 25 years, I work with people who struggle in this area of life, and I have seen both the destruction that comes from believing falsehoods and the beauty of walking with those who grow in their faith as they live out God’s design. God is in the business of changing lives, and we see this daily at Harvest USA.
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R. Nicholas Black, MAR, spokesperson for God’s Design for Sexuality in a Changing Culture, is the Program Resources Director at Harvest USA, where he writes and edits resources for the ministry. He has been a pastor and a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He and his wife Nancy have two adult children.

Harvest USA is a non-profit that has been ministering to individuals and families affected by sexual struggles since 1983. With over 100 years of combined direct ministry experience, Harvest USA staff also seek to equip the Church with their writing and teaching on biblical sexuality and how to help those who struggle sexually. Learn more at www.harvestusa.org.

God’s Design for Sexuality in a Changing Culture: 15-Session Video Curriculum
By Harvest USA / Retail Price: $124.99
ISBN 978-1-945270-95-6
Religion/Christian Life/Relationships

 

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