It seems like a regular occurrence that I hear about a youth pastor or a youth leader messing up with a teenager sexually. It is sad, but it is the reality. The reality is simple. Anyone of us could fall into this type of trouble without boundaries. Boundaries are there to protect us. Here are a few boundaries for youth leaders (particularly males):
Do not find yourself in a car alone with the opposite sex- This is a no brainer. A male leader does not need to take girls home by himself. Find a female leader to do that. There are lady leaders out there who would do this for you. This is a boundary that will prevent you. It is that “above approach” boundary that no one could even question your relationship with a teenager in the wrong way. Also, do not find yourself alone with a person of the opposite sex in a room.
Be careful not to build stronger relationships with the opposite sex- Girls tend to naturally open up (especially to guys). Guys, be careful. If you are a youth leader who walks in and gravitates directly to the girls in the room to talk to them before the guys, that is a potential problem. It is okay to befriend the girls, but your main priority should be the guys you are ministering too (specifically speaking to the males).
Physical Contact- I used to have an “absolute NO physical contact” policy between leaders and students of the opposite sex. I now have taken some discretion, and allowed hugging, but even that should have boundaries. Be careful with the appearance. Also, young girls feed off of older men so be careful that you are not allowing a hug to become flirty. I personally give a one-armed hug, but I do not look to give hugs.
Do not counsel the opposite sex- Now, if you are the student pastor, it is fine, but have your wife with you. I do not discuss serious matters with girls unless my wife is present. I want to protect myself, and I do not ever want to give the wrong impression to the teen girl as well. Do not be up late at night texting/facebooking/tweeting the opposite sex. I do not want my teen girls to know that they are more on my mind late into the night than my family. There are emergency exceptions in student ministry, but this should not be an every night occurrence.
Stay out of Drama- This is my least favorite part about youth ministry. I despise drama, but it comes with the territory in student ministry. I recognize that students will find themselves in drama (mainly girls). If you are a guy leader who is into the teen girl drama, that is a problem. I hear way too much as the youth pastor, but I try to defer the drama to my wife or another female youth worker. I also do not care about every detail of the drama either. I do not want to give anyone the impression that I am into teen drama
Here are a few things that I want all of my students to graduate out of our youth group knowing:
Students should have a good knowledge of the Bible- I want my students to have an understanding of most of the Bible. They should know the Gospel, they should know theology, they should know how the Bible should relate to themselves.
Students should know how to have a personal relationship with Jesus- Hopefully, they have seen this modeled in my life as their leader, but also in their home as well as their small group leader. I want every student to graduate knowing how to have a daily relationship with Jesus.
Students should know how to share their faith- Students should know the Gospel by the time that they graduate, and it is up to us to train and equip them to know how to share the Gospel.
Students should know how to worship- I want every student to know how to worship, and I want them to understand that worship is a personal thing that we can experience every single day.
This past Wednesday was a sad, but also exciting youth service all in one. The reason was that it was senior night. The night was sad, because we are losing some fantastic seniors, but it was exciting, because they are moving on to the next step in their journey. We always do a senior highlight video for them. I also wrote a song and sang it as well in way of a music video (you do not want to miss this). Here are the two videos:
“We are never ever ever going to forget you” by: Josh Evans
Here are a few lies that I was thinking of today about our student ministry that I DO NOT want to believe. You can apply these to any ministry that you are currently involved in:
If we had our own space/room, we could do more effective youth ministry- Look, cool youth rooms are awesome. I get that, but should a room dictate how effective or ineffective our youth ministry is. We have met in a gym for years. Each week, we set up a full stage, full sound system, 100 chairs, and about 20 tables. Then, after youth group, we tear the entire thing down. It is transitional. It is part of where we are at. We can complain or contribute in the setting that God has placed us in.
We shouldn’t expect too much, because they are teens- Look, teens can change the world. Look at the recent revivals. Most of them (if not all) have been started by students. Teens can change the world so we should expect that, right? Look, I get it, they have a lot working against them, but so much more working FOR them. Expect much from them. Believe in every single student.
Youth Ministry is all about fun- Fun is so important, but it is not the most important thing about youth ministry. Your purpose and vision should be the most important. Then, make that fun
That is good enough- I hate the phrase, “good enough.” I have even been guilty at times for using this phrase. Let’s not have a “well, that is good enough” approach to the work that we are in. Students deserve more. Jesus Christ deserves more. Have a ministry that strives for excellence.
I am to old to influence students- Some of our most effective leaders are a bit older. Do not think that you have to be this young, goatee wearing, guitar playing trendy leader to influence students. Be yourself, because students crave authenticity more than you trying to be cool.
I want to poll all parents to find out if they do family devotions with their kids. If you do family devotions, would you mind sharing below in the comment section to let us know what curriculum, devotional book, or series you go through with your kids?
I received an email this morning from “life in student ministry” about the free D6 vids this weekend only, and I began to watch them. It was encouraging, and I felt that I needed to share some of this resource with you today.
For this weekend only, the D6 Conference leaders are giving away 4 video sessions and 6 mp3 sessions from last year’s D6 Conference. I have never been to the D6 conference, but after watching a couple of these videos today, I really want to go. I encourage you to check these vids and MP3′s out.
The line-up of free sessions you can watch this weekend include:
David Platt – The American Dream and the Gospel
Brian Haynes – What is Family Ministry?
Richard Ross – Reaching the Heart of the Next Generation
Garnett Reid – Leaving a Legacy that Matters
Ed Stetzer – Attitudes and Practices That Lead to Robust Spiritual Formation
Michelle Anthony – The Transforming Power of Christ for a New Generation
Rob Reinow – Transforming Youth and Children’s Ministry
Sean McDowell – Equipping Young People With a Biblical Worldview
Voddie Baucham – Equipping Parents to Do Their Work
Beth Guckenberger – Equipping Women to Be Agents of Reconciliation
You can find it all on the D6 Days site from now until this Sunday.
Check out what D6 is doing this weekend over at D6 Days. Hope these free vids encourage you.
I was helping a friend of mine move into their house the other day, and we had to take the legs off of their couch, because they would not fit through the door. Someone pulled out their phone to use their flashlight, but the joke was “do you have an app for taking the legs off of the couch.” (You had to have been there, I guess).
Apps are a part of our culture. When apps first started getting popular, they were only on a few phones. Now, most phones, tablets, or computers have apps that you can use. There are literally many apps for about everything that you need. The problem is that there are apps out there that are for what we do not need as well. I think that parents must be cautious now more than ever before about the rise in apps and technology. I want to share 5 apps that parents need to be aware about for the safety and protection of their kid.
Snapchat- Initially, there is absolutely nothing wrong with snapchat, but I do not like the underlining reason that it was created. Snapchat is an app where you can share photos or videos to anyone in your contact list. It sounds innocent right? So why should we be concerned or knowledgeable about the app? The issue that I have is you can set the time for how long the opposing party can view the message. Why did the creators of Snapchat have to add this feature? So in essence, a student could send a profane or a perverted picture to another student, and it will go nonexistent after 10 seconds. Parents nor anyone else can locate the picture. It sounds sketchy to me personally. If you want to share a picture, send it through a text or instagram it. Instagram is the most popular app for students as of right now. I like it, but be careful as well, because many people are instagramming pictures of nudity, etc. Students can instantly seen porn through a somewhat of an innocent site such as instagram. It sounds like Snapchat is an app created for students who want to hide stuff from their parents.
Vine- Vine is somewhat of a newer app. It came out toward the end of January 2013 so you might have not heard much about this. Vine is an easy way to share a quick streaming video to somewhat else. it is basically “instagram” for videos. It is dangerous though in that it has gotten many horrible reviews for pornographic material.
Bang with Friends- This app allows you to log in using facebook. Now, if you look at your teen’s phone, you may not find this app. That is because it has recently been moved to a facebook app. You would have to search through their facebook to see if they have this app. It allows you to choose friends in your facebook list who you would sleep with (bang). It is anonymous until that other person randomly chooses you. If both parties choose each other, each party is notified and encouraged to get together to have sex.
Twitter- Twitter is the Facebook of today. I have Twitter, and I would prefer it over facebook as well. Students have quickly migrated over from facebook to twitter over the last 2 years. Why? It is simple. Most parents, pastors, and teachers have gotten facebook. It is not cool to hang out online where those three groups of people are as well so teens must go somewhere else. They have migrated to twitter. I have often said that if you want to know what a teenager is really thinking, look at their twitter account. I have noticed a rise recently of students creating twitter accounts with different names so that no one can find them. I also have seen students’ following perverted groups of people to instantly see porn and other inappropriate material. By the way, check their twitter often, and if they have to block pastors, teachers, and even parents, there might be an underlining reason as to why.
Youtube- This is not a new app, and it is often used. I use it regularly. I love youtube. Even though youtube has been HUGE over the last several years, I would venture to say that it is bigger than ever right now. It was in the top 3 of the top downloaded apps in 2012 according to one survey. Youtube can be very innocent and fun. The problem is the trend of students using youtube for music videos. The top music videos viewed by teens is sickening. They mainly consist of sex, drugs, and money. I have been trying to keep up, and it is quite disturbing to see the top music that our students are listening too. Parents, you can view the recently watched videos that your students are viewing, and I highly encourage this for their protection.
Here is the reality, every app can be used for evil. That is the sad truth. Parents, you must check these out regularly, and caution your student to protect themselves in a world trying to destroy their purity, reputation, and most of their testimony for Jesus.
Question- What other apps should parents know about?
When I graduated Bible College, I became the youth pastor at my home church. I grew up in the church since I was 5 years of age, and now as a 21-year-old young man who just graduated from Bible College, I would become the youth pastor at that church. This happens regularly, and I want to give you a few things that I learned through that process of my life:
Think about the Progress you already have- Okay, if I had of went to a brand new church, it would have taken me a while to learn everyone. No, I went to a church where I already knew many of the families there. Going to your home church gives you an incredible head start than going to a brand new church.
Do not let people take advantage of you- This is very difficult, but be very cautious. I do not think people do this intentionally, but sometimes unintentionally. Be strong in your leadership, and just because people have known you for a long time does not give anyone the right to overstep bounds of the leadership position that you are in.
Trust your Position- You will get the “I remember when you were this old” kind of comments a lot. You will hear many stories of the stupid things that you did as a child. Face it, it will happen to you, but be firm in your position. God placed you there, and you can trust your position. If you trust what the people think of you, you are in trouble, but rather place your trust in God and His placing you into the position that He has you in.
It is easy to make the “stand out” students a huge part of your ministry, because they do just that, they stand out. What about those quiet students who do not stand out in the crowd, but rather quietly attends? Are either more important? No, both are important and both should be a part of your student ministry. How can we do that?
Treat every student the same- Now, obviously, some students respond to different relationship styles differently, but every student at the core should be treated the same. I am not saying talk about the same stuff with every student, because students are different, but I am talking about being partial. We should not be partial to the rich, and not to the poor. The ground must be level in our youth groups. We turn so many students away because we as youth pastors tend to be too partial to the “stand out” students rather than the “sit back” students.
Connect every student- Try and give every student some responsibility in the ministry. Each student deserves some type of ownership. Do not just use the “stand out” students, but look for ways to use the “sit back” students as well. Connect them to the church, to a small group and its leader, and to a ministry.
Be cautious for bullying- Bullying is a HUGE problem in youth groups. The “popular” kids feel that they can pick on the less popular kids without any personal damage being done. Youth pastors and leaders, be on the look out that students are not coming to your ministry and being bullied. If you see it, step up, and stop it!
I cannot believe that another school year has just about come and gone! Graduation is simply approaching, and many youth pastors are frantically looking for some gift to give their seniors that will not just be put on a shelf or put away never to be looked at again. Here is an idea for you guys:
Congradulations is an awesome tool put together by interlinc. It is a CD with 20 songs from today’s top Christian artists about graduation. Some songs are filled with advice to your graduates. Top artists such as Lecrae, Switchfoot, or TobyMac headline the Congradulations cd. Millions of students have been impacted by this cd for the past 20 years.
Music is an important part of a students’ life, and this is a quick way to use music as a tool to advise and minister to the graduates. Check out Interlinc’s website by clicking here, and make sure you check out the Congradulations page.