It’s interesting how we as the “church” are reacting to the culture surrounding us. I have talked with youth programming that still encourages small group leaders to “hang out” with students beyond programming time while others have considered even transporting students in vehicles not deemed “official” church vehicles is a no-no.
Everyone agrees that social media is here to stay. I read an article recently that claimed todays teens are the first generation to grow up interacting through this method on a regular basis. Easy access to smart phones and touch screen devices have created a society that is always connected. Just today I saw someone proclaim (over social media) how their small children like to face time friends so they can “draw together.”
There was a time when we could “ignore” certain guidelines based on where we live and the size of our community. Yet, it seems like every time we turn around something new makes the news on a youth group (or pastor) gone awry.
Why are policies important?
They Make Us Proactive Not Reactive:
My volunteer handbook is full of guidelines based on mistakes and missteps I have made through the years. I wish I had been able to think through scenarios and helped bring peace from the get go. We can no longer have and attitude that people should “know better.” Brainstorming policies that are (and could be) needed helps you from a position of constantly putting out fires.
They Bring Consistency:
There is always going to be someone on our team who tries to do things “their way,” even when you believe you have made it clear. Writing down policies (and asking your team to sign them in acknowledgement they understand) keeps everyone on the same page. No one has to wonder about expectations and how to carry them out because they have been made crystal clear.
They Bring Accountability and Knock Out Fear:
It’s easy to just put policies in place based out of fear from bad things that are all over the new. It’s also easy to think “that would never happen to us. We can’t assume anything anymore from either direction. We must remember that our first responsibility is to shepherd students and their families. When we have policies everyone is held accountable to a standard for the purpose of a quality ministry that helps students.
The fact is we want more of our time to be spent focusing on ministering with students than struggling with issues. There are so many variables we can’t control, let’s make sure to put in attention where we can.
(**Note: DYM offers lots of forms and places to begin on ideas of policies, including an example of a Volunteer Handbook.)