Seven Rules for Youth Ministers
Seven Rules for Youth Ministers
RULE 1: MAINTAIN AN HONORABLE LOYALTY TO YOUR PASTOR.A. Never make a disloyal statement about your pastor to anyone, especially to the youth in your ministry.1. Disloyalty breeds disloyalty. Youth who hear you disparaging the senior pastor learn that it is acceptable to disparage ministry staff and volunteers, including yourself.2. Within hearing of the ministry youth, regularly thank and praise the other pastors and church staff for their dedication and leadership.B. Support the pastor’s decisions even if you disagree with them.1. Give your pastor’s decisions your support in word and action.2. Quickly correct any tendency by the youth to complain about the other pastors or staff or their actions.3. If you believe it is absolutely necessary to make your opinion known, do so only to the pastor himself.C. Do not let your ministry become a church within a church—you are an arm of the church’s pastor.1. Do not attempt to become more popular with the youth than their pastor.2. Keep your youth actively involved with the rest of the church.3. Periodically ask the pastor to take part in youth activities as his schedule permits.4. Do not engage in any youth activity without knowing you have the pastor’s approval.D. Lead the youth of the church in praying for the pastor, church staff, and church leaders.1. Hearing you pray for the pastor will teach the youth that they also need to pray regularly for their church leaders, including you.2. Regularly ask your youth to pray out loud for the pastor.3. Periodically engage in a season of prayer for church leaders as a youth activity.4. Place the pastor and other church leaders on every youth prayer list.E. Lead your youth in honoring the pastor and other church officers.1. Wash their cars.2. Mow and rake their lawns.3. Wash their windows.4. Write letters of appreciation for their dedication, etc.
RULE 2: GUARD YOUR OWN MORAL PURITYA. Avoid the very appearance of evil.1. NEVER become inappropriately emotionally attached to any young person.2. NEVER be alone with any of the young men or ladies of the youth class.3. NEVER touch any of the youth in an inappropriate manner.4. NEVER counsel a young person out of the presence of your spouse or another adult church worker.B. Do not forget that you are married.1. Let the young people see you honor your spouse.2. Quickly explain to overly-adoring young people that you love your spouse and would never do anything to dishonor your marriage vows.3. Do not minister to the youth at the expense of your own family life.C. If you are unmarried, model a celibate and chaste Biblical lifestyle for the young people in your group.
RULE 3: FOLLOW MINISTRY COUNSELING RULESA. Make it clear to every youth or family you counsel that you are giving only spiritual counsel, not medical, mental, or marriage counsel.1. Keep your Bible open and clearly in sight throughout each counseling session.2. Read from at least one Scriptural reference during the counseling session.3. Assign Scriptural homework to the person you are counseling.4. Begin and end the counseling session with prayer.B. Do not counsel a member of the opposite sex without a staff member or trusted church worker of that sex also being present during the entire session.1. It is common for a counselee to become too emotionally attached to the counselor.2. By definition a person who seeks counsel is under emotional and spiritual distress. Do not give any opportunity for the counselee to make unfounded allegations against you.3. Having two responsible adults in the session protects both the counselors and the counselee. To protect the confidentiality of the counseling session, the other adult should be another member of the pastoral staff of the church.4. Avoid counseling a young person alone in his or her house, at a restaurant, or at any other similar location.C. Keep accurate and timely notes of each counseling session.1. Make a note of information about the counseling environment.2. Make a note of information that reflects the confidential nature of the counseling session for clergy privilege purposes.3. Make a note of the problem for which counseling was sought.4. Make a note of the spiritual advice given, including the specific scriptural reference(s) shared with the counselee.5. Make a note of the specific actions recommended to the counselee and of actions the counselee was discouraged from taking.6. CLA has available more detailed explanations of these rules for counseling which can be ordered from our office.
RULE 4: SCREEN MINISTRY VOLUNTEERSA. Every volunteer who will have direct contact with the young people should be screened for eligibility.1. Conduct a criminal records check.2. Ask for references from the volunteer and actually speak with the people the volunteer has mentioned.3. If the volunteer will be driving, ask for a copy of his driver’s license.4. If you become aware of any inappropriate relationship between a youth volunteer and any youth, notify the pastor IMMEDIATELY.5. Do not use any volunteer who is disloyal to the pastor or to other church leaders.B. Be extremely careful in deputizing drivers for youth activities.1. Avoid having one of the young people drive other youth to and from ministry activities.2. Be certain adult drivers are licensed, insured, and have no history of reckless or negligent driving. Make a copy of the driver's license of each volunteer driver and update these records on an annual basis.3. If it becomes evident that one of the drivers is reckless, immediately relieve him of his driving responsibilities. Cancel the activity if you do not have a sufficient number of responsible adult drivers.
RULE 5: AVOID HIGH-RISK YOUTH ACTIVITIESA. Water sports are extremely dangerous. Do not plan any youth activity that includes any kind of water sport more dangerous than bobbing for apples.1. Do not plan a swimming activity.2. Do not plan a boating activity.3. Do not plan a jet-ski activity.4. Do not plan a parasailing activity.B. Downhill snow skiing is also dangerous. Be extremely careful that those who take part in any snow skiing activities are already experienced skiers.1. Require inexperienced skiers to take instruction classes.2. Prohibit even experienced skiers from skiing the difficult slopes.C. Youth activities should never be planned around any high-risk activity, such as riding the rapids, skydiving, or hunting. One unfortunate accident could result in criminal charges and/or civil liability that could cost the church millions of dollars.1. A youth minister who was towing a young person from his boat was charged criminally for her death by asphyxiation because the boat was allegedly leaking carbon monoxide fumes.2. The family of a young person who drowned during a youth swimming activity sued the church and its pastors, including the youth pastor.
RULE 6: OBTAIN PERMISSION/RELEASE FORMS FOR EACH YOUTH ACTIVITYA. Specifically tailor the permission/release form to each planned event.1. One generic form attempting to cover all activities will have no legal value.2. Describe all activities planned for the event and do not allow an activity to take place unless it has been described in the form.3. Ask the parents to specifically list those activities in which they do not wish their child to engage.4. Include a provision by which the parent agrees not to sue the church and to indemnify the church should the child sue for damages after he reaches the age of majority.B. Do not allow a young person to participate in any event without a properly executed release form on file for that child and event.1. Make certain the legal guardian of the child has signed the form.2. A form signed by a minor is unenforceable.3. Make certain that parents (or guardians) initial each page of the form.4. NEVER discard the executed forms.C. Do not use the permission/release form as a substitute for reasonable safeguards.1. Always ensure adequate adult supervision.2. Instruct all activity participants in the safety pre-cautions for that event.3. Ensure that any youth activity takes place only in safe buildings and that only safe equipment and vehicles are used.4. Screen the eligibility of workers volunteering to assist in the activity. (See Rule 4 above).D. CLA has more information and sample liability release forms available by calling the CLA office.
RULE 7: REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSEA. Become familiar with your state’s mandatory child abuse reporting laws.1. Some states require everyone, including pastors, to report any suspicion that a child is being abused to appropriate officials.2. If you are a mandated reporter, reporting the suspicion of abuse to a superior at church does not relieve you from the responsibility to also report the suspicion to the appropriate government officials.B. Become familiar with the church’s procedures for reporting abuse.1. Every church should establish rules for reporting suspected abuse.2. The policy should appoint the pastor or his delegate to receive notification by any church worker of the suspected abuse of a child in the ministry.3. If you suspect that a minor is being abused, IMMEDIATELY notify your superior as designated by the church policy. If you are unsure who that person might be, notify the pastor.4. Remember that if you are a mandated reporter, giving notice to a superior of suspected child abuse does not relieve you from also immediately reporting your suspicions of abuse to the authorities designated by state law.5. Keep a record of when you first had a reasonable suspicion of abuse, when you reported that suspicion to officials, and to whom you spoke.6. Speaking with the parent of the child about your suspicions does not absolve you from making a report to proper authorities if you are a mandated reporter.C. Actions by parents or caretakers which may not rise to the level of abuse, but which are not in the best interests of the child should be dealt with by the pastor or his designee. He, the youth minister, is the spiritual leader of the parents.1. If the pastor designates you to counsel with the parents about their relationship with the child, you should never engage in such counseling without another adult church worker being present.2. Be actively involved in trying to get the parents of every child in your ministry saved and into church.D. CLA has more information available on suspected child abuse, mandatory reporters, and recommended procedures which can be obtained by calling our office.
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The above information is from the Christian Law Association. Thank God for their labors in the Lord.