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Youth Group Rules: Essential Guidelines for Youth Ministry

youth group rules

Youth group rules are essential for programs to function well. Yet many churches and groups don’t create official guidelines for youth ministry leaders or participants. Unwritten youth group rules aren’t really rules, and you sure can’t enforce them very well. And rules you can’t enforce are absolutely pointless.

Read on to discover my thoughts about youth group rules 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 forgot to mention something, in which case you could suddenly get very busy!)

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 Youth Group 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.

2. Clothing

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 form that stays with 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.