This is a question that I am oftentimes faced with in our student ministry. I also love seeing how other student pastors and leaders deal with discipline in their ministry as well. I want to give you a few brief thoughts today about how to discipline a student in your ministry:
- Discipline is never fun– This is the reality and an obvious thought. When discipline becomes fun to you, there is a problem with your relationship with the students.
- Establish yourself as the authority from the beginning– This is hard to do sometimes, because when you come on staff, it is natural for you to desire the friendship and acceptance of your students and leaders, but you are still the leader. You are the authority, and you will answer to God for the way that your student ministry is handled. Now, this does not give you the right to walk around cocky as if you are better than everyone else, but you are the leader at the end of the day. You can have fun and be down to earth with the students, but there needs to be that authoritative role vs. friend role that is well established.
- Set clear guidelines in your ministry– You have to set clear guidelines for the entire group so they cannot come back and say, “My bad, I didn’t know.” Always set clear guidelines, and run over these regularly with your students & their parents as well as your leaders.
- Try and be as consistent– This is very important. Students can easily pick up on inconsistency in discipline and other things.
- Follow through– If you say you are going to discipline a student if they break a rule, then do it if they break that rule. Do not threaten the group with a consequence of doing something that is wrong, and if they break the rule, you do not follow through with their consequences.
- Involve the parents– I tend to always try to involve the parents. I have been regretful of not telling their parents about certain issues, but I have never regretted telling the parents up front. Now, obviously use discretion. If it is a very minor deal, you might not have to address the parents, but it is always best to get them involved.
Hope these thoughts about discipline in student ministry help you out. If you have any further thoughts of how you handle things in your ministry, let me know!