Religion Magazine

Boundaries in Student Ministry Part 2

By Caryschmidt

Boundaries in Student Ministry Part 2

Developing a Long-Term Ministry of Integrity

We’re talking about boundaries in student ministry. In our first post we discussed boundaries with the opposite gender. Now we move on to understanding and protecting boundaries regarding parents and disciplinary situations. Here are a few thoughts:

Appropriate Boundaries with Parents of Teens or Young Adults:

  • Always defer to their position of authority in every area—these kids belong to them.
  • Honor parents and thank them for allowing you to have influence—display genuine humility in this.
  • Prefer family time over youth ministry time—time with parents is far more vital than youth group.
  • Be accessible and approachable by parents—don’t be intimidated by their questions.
  • Have a servant’s heart toward the whole family and encourage parents—they get discouraged too.
  • Support family decisions even when you disagree on matters of preference—never express disagreement to their kids.
  • Support parents to kids always, no matter what your desire would be—teach them honor.
  • Support parents educational decisions and convictions—even if you disagree.
  • Teach kids the Bible, that’s your primary responsibility—stay focused on it.
  • Always involve parents in discipline issues, preferably before you deal with the teen—the teen will often misrepresent you.
  • Always contact the parents as early as possible in discipline or areas of concern—they must know your heart and actions.
  • When possible deal with discipline with the parents present—this allows every one to understand the situation.
  • Never look at students private messages, cell-phones, emails, etc. without parental permission.

Appropriate Boundaries Related to Disciplinary Matters:

  • Never publicly embarrass or humiliate a student over a private discipline issue.
  • Never insinuate guilt or problems merely based on your own suspicion or cynicism.
  • Never make your private suspicion a public matter—meet with student personally.
  • Never accuse, but simply compassionately ask—accusations harden the will but questions stimulate the conscience.
  • Never attack or disrepect other authorities in their lives—ie: “some of your parents…”
  • Never go fault-finding or digging, let God bring a problem to the surface—we aren’t pharisees.
  • Never allow a past discipline situation to affect your spirit towards a teen in the future.
  • Never put punitive action before restorative action—be a shepherd, not a sentencing judge.
  • Grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace— ’nuff said.

You can’t defer to parental authority and the institution of the home too much. And you can’t show too much grace. Too often we step out of bounds in these areas. In part three we’ll discuss matters of abuse and cooperation with authorities.

This is a short list, so please add to it if you can.

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