I don’t think any youth group can function well without rules. Yet many churches and groups don’t create official guidelines for youth ministry leaders or participants. Unwritten rules aren’t really rules, and you sure can’t enforce them very well. And rules you can’t enforce are absolutely pointless.
Read to discover my thoughts about rules for youth groups and guidelines for youth ministry leaders.
Why guidelines for youth ministry leaders and groups are a must
Rules bring clarity to all involved, be it parents, youth, volunteers, leaders, or church members. If you can hand everyone a copy of the rules that apply to them, there will never be any discussion about what’s allowed and what’s not (unless you’ve forgotten to mention something, in which case you could get very busy suddenly)!
And contrary to what many may think, students don’t have a problem with rules. They have rules at school, when playing sports, and at home (hopefully). So having rules at church and youth group won’t be a surprise.
7 Types of Rules to Consider
You can’t out-rule everything. Try to use common sense and suppress the urge to put every little thing into a rule. That being said, here are seven issues you may want to address:
1. PDA (public displays of affection)
Think of hugging, kissing, touching between couples, plus contact between volunteers/leaders and students. A fairly common rule is the side hug, which says volunteers and leaders shouldn’t give frontal hugs to students. I’m not sure that’s practical, but I appreciate the thought behind it.
I’m a big fan of a dress code. It can prevent a lot of discussions about what items and styles are acceptable.
3. Trips and retreats
It may be wise to have all parents sign a consent form whenever you take their kids on a trip or retreat. Make sure to list the rules on the part of the consent form that stays with the parents. That way they can’t claim ignorance. My advice is to ask parents to discuss the rules with their kids; have them take some responsibility in this area. In your rules, be especially clear which offenses will result in being sent home so parents and youth know this up front.
4. Small group rules
When you’re making these guidelines for youth ministry leaders and participants, consider such areas as confidentiality, respectful discussions, and so on.
5. User rules
If your youth group owns or uses a building or room, you may want to hang some general rules there as well. Ours include the ban on illegal music, software and games (we had a computer and sound system), cleaning up afterward, and taking care of our stuff.