Youth Ministry Resources: Rules create clarity for everyone involved: youth, leaders and even the parents. Everyone knows what is expected and everyone also knows there can be consequences if you break the rules.
Making Rules For Your Teen Ministry
Rules. Many youth workers have a very conflicted opinion on these. Most agree that you can’t function as a youth ministry without any rules at all, but many prefer to limit them as much as possible. The underlying rationale seems to be that teens strongly dislike rules and that having rules will consequently hinder your youth ministry. The truth however is a little more nuanced.
Rules create clarity
First of all, you need rules. Without rules, you can’t tell young people what they can or cannot do, because there’s no standard, no agreed code of behavior. Rules create clarity for everyone involved: youth, leaders and even the parents (provided you inform the parents on the rules). Everyone knows what is expected and everyone also knows there can be consequences if you break the rules.
Teens need rules
Part of growing up is testing the boundaries. Teens need boundaries, they need rules. Not only because it will help them become a morally better person, but also because we need to prepare them for a real life in a society filled with rules. Let’s face it, as humans in western society, we spend most of our lives in an environment governed by rules. It’s how society functions.
Teens are accustomed to rules
The whole idea that teens dislike rules to the extent of boycotting a youth ministry with rules is taken too far. Young people have rules everywhere they go: at home, in school, in the sports they play. They are for the most part accustomed to having rules and if you don’t make them too strict, they’ll accept them. They may not always obey them, they’re still teens, but they won’t stop coming to youth ministry just because you define some rules.
Creating rules for your youth ministry therefore is completely okay, recommendable even. These are some areas in which you may want rules:
- A dress code
- User rules for a youth room
- Code of conduct for your volunteers and leaders
- Small group rules e.g. on confidentiality
- PDA’s: public displays of affection (kissing, hugging, etc)
- Specific rules for special events like trips or retreats
Generally, it’s a good idea to not ‘dictate’ the rules to your teens, but involve them in making them. It may surprise you how reasonable teens can be when you ask them to lay down some rules for the youth ministry. It can even lead to some good discussions on the ‘why’ of certain rules, for instance the dress code. And the upside to involving them is that they will far easily accept rules they’ve helped create!