Tough Talks with Youth

Posted by: DVULI | January 4, 2022

Carlos Nicasio's 2008 image showcases a group of people standing in front of a wall discussing Tough Talks with Youth.

by Carlos Nicasio (San Diego 2008)

With so much happening in our nation today, youth are asking a lot of questions. The division among leadership inside and outside of churches is causing our youth to demand answers and the truth. Today’s urban youth workers must be equipped with sound wisdom, doctrine, and advice to outpace the digital fountain from which youth are drinking. These young people are watching a hurting humanity struggle with issues that rip into the fabric of their neighborhoods. One of the many questions on their list is, “What kind of loving God would allow such things?”

While I would never profess to know or have all the right answers, I have to believe the loving God we serve would ultimately want me to direct my youth and their grappling questions to Him. Tough talks about cultural topics like politics, racism, sexuality, mental health, and vaccinations shouldn’t be avoided.

Today’s urban youth workers MUST BE EQUIPPED WITH SOLID WISDOM, DOCTRINE, AND ADVICE to outpace the digital fountain from which youth are drinking.To begin to answer these questions, young people are looking for trusted individuals who will listen and offer answers. Parents, youth groups, and discipleship communities should be the best places to start these conversations. They are the platforms where quality relationships are established and where open and honest discussions are held. In my experience, providing these spaces creates a safe and secure place for grace, deep dialogue, and liberation. We want our youth to feel free to share struggles, hardships, and confusion about culture. Leaders have to be willing to make time and take time to become family with young people.

I welcome challenging questions like, “Which political party would Jesus support?” While the short answer could rightly be neither party, in order to engage with those who are asking, one response could be that Jesus aligns with the party of the people. He came to serve and save humanity. He was always advocating for the lost and those in need.

When it comes to Jesus addressing the needs of people, youth will have follow-up questions. The big topic youth are asking about is the Bible’s perspective on gender and sexuality and if it’s accurate today. At a minimum, everyone has to come to terms with the fact that from the beginning, we see God created Adam (man) and Eve (woman). He establishes them both in creation. 

Urban YouthMy leadership team at Concrete and Canvas, realizes these kinds of tough talks are only getting more challenging. This digital generation has an abundance of information and misinformation, creating stress in an already stressful post-pandemic way of life. Moreover, we cannot afford to shy away from the truth that we live in a fallen world where the devil rules. We see countless stories in the Bible that illustrate this, but we also see a sovereign God worth trusting.

Youth need to embrace the reality that they are here by design. Their gifts, talents, abilities, and callings are what define God’s purpose for them. They are here on a mission to enlarge God’s kingdom and purpose for humanity.

I encourage youth workers facing challenging questions to create a “grace space” where young people don’t feel threatened and are welcomed to go deep with their struggles. In some communities, it’s come down to street credibility. Our relationships and street reputation draw youth to our organizations, and then we are able to lead them to the gospel.

Tough Talks Resources For Youth Leaders

Pine Rest Resource Library: Type “talking with teens” into the search bar at for a list of resources. (Login info found here.

RightNow Media: Use your RightNow Media app to search these resources:

  • Identity & Sexuality by Summit Ministries
  • The Perfect Blend of Politics & Religion by Andy Stanley
  • Identity by Eric Mason
  • If God Is Good, Why Do Bad Things Happen? by OS Guinness