The new initiative, introduced during the National Youth Worker's Conference in September, follows a study of how the 17-year-old ministry can be more effective for future generations.
Jimmy Hester, co-founder of True Love Waits, noted that feedback from student ministry leaders indicated a need for more emphasis on parental participation, specifically to support parents in their role as the primary spiritual developers of their children.
"While the message in society today is one of encouraging teen sex, these leaders emphasized that many parents are in denial as to the scope of the problem and the ways their children are affected," Hester said.
In response, True Love Waits created True Love Waits 3.0: A Path of Purity, which builds on the ministry's sexual-abstinence-until-marriage message to include a variety of markers students experience from childhood to young adulthood. Resources supporting this new emphasis will guide parents and church leaders to take advantage of these markers and treat them as teachable moments on purity.
"Walking the path of purity is not easy, but it's the right way," Hester said. "After careful consideration through interaction with student workers and students, we realized that this emphasis has often been viewed as a one-time event emphasis."
True Love Waits is a process, Hester explained, noting that the new emphasis will focus on 18 life markers that will provide student ministry workers and parents the opportunity to have conversations about abstinence.
Those markers, among children, include birth and infancy, physical curiosity, starting school, sexual/social development and "the talk." For younger youth, the markers are puberty, the 13th birthday, entering the youth group and the True Love Waits commitment ceremony.
Among older youth, the markers are getting a driver's license, dating (group/first date), exclusively dating, prom/banquet/formal and high school graduation. For post youth and young adults, markers include college, singleness, engagement and marriage.
"It's a spiritual development process," as Hester put it.
Also in the new curriculum is a list of purity detours, which include abuse, sexual activity, pregnancy and abortion, pornography, homosexuality and living together.
"Some of the most meaningful testimonies we have heard have come from students who were sexually active and who made the decision that from this day forward they would practice sexual abstinence until marriage," Hester said.
"We developed a resource early on for these students and for those who may have not lived up to their commitment. The booklet is called 'When True Love Doesn't Wait,'" he said. "It's been a helpful tool for ministers to share with students to help them get back on track and work through the issues of forgiveness, guilt, blame and restoration. The practical steps in the booklet guide them to live with the consequences of their decisions and make a new promise of purity."
TLW 3.0 provides advice on how to handle the detours and get back on the path of purity.
To compare the new curriculum to the original material, LifeWay noted that in 1993 when the True Love Waits movement began, the culture expected teenagers to be sexually active and abstinence was not presented as an option. Christian parents and teenagers expressed concern over teen sexual behavior, and the concern was addressed in the form of student, parent and church solutions.
The first national display of the True Love Waits movement was on the mall in Washington, D.C., in 1994 with thousands of signed commitment cards from students across the country.
In 2004, True Love Waits resources were updated to adapt to a changing culture. By that time, sexual behavior among teenagers was different and abstinence was seen as an option. The use of the word and idea of purity expanded the view of abstinence, and a significant number of teenagers were expressing their commitment to purity and abstinence publicly.
A 10th anniversary celebration of True Love Waits was held in Nashville, Tenn., in 2004, and at the summer Olympics in Athens that year students gathered for an international True Love Waits rally.
In 2010, True Love Waits is being revamped again to support the current generation of students and to assist parents in guiding their children along the path of purity.
During the National Youth Worker's Conference, Seth Buckley, student minister at First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., introduced Jeff and Angie Rosenlund and their daughter Teal.
Teal Rosenlund, a junior at Clemson University, attended a True Love Waits ceremony in 7th grade, but her commitment to purity came long before the event.
"The True Love Waits ceremony wasn't the big 'a-ha' moment," she said. "I had made a commitment in my heart before the ceremony. I grew up with my parents talking openly about dating, purity and waiting until marriage to have sex. The True Love Waits ceremony was huge because it reinforced everything I had already believed. It was neat to see my peers commit with me. I loved that my parents were there at the ceremony. It just reinforced that we were all holding each other accountable."
Jeff Rosenlund said the key to teaching kids about purity begins with teaching them about God's standards for their lives.
"We tried to teach our kids early on, through conversations, lifestyle and Bible studies, that God's way is the right way," he said.
Rosenlund also said being active in a church helped with teaching his kids about abstinence.
"We were discipled, challenged and taught how to grow as Christians," he said, noting that he and his wife also learned from other parents.
Angie Rosenlund spoke about the importance of the mother's role regarding purity.
"One thing I tried to do is make everything comfortable to talk about -- hair, makeup, boys and even sex," she said. "We had a rule that if you heard a word or saw a gesture, come home and ask us. We wanted to be approachable. We are here to help them figure out God's way."
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach and the communications staff of LifeWay Christian Resources. For more information about True Love Waits, visit www.truelovewaits.com.
Copyright (c) 2010 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net