What a mess! - A Youth Ministry situation

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by ScottEmerson, Jan 29, 2005.

  1. ScottEmerson

    ScottEmerson
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    Okay, so now that I got your attention...

    I have two questions, but first I will preface it with a situation that occurred this weekend. We have two couples in our youth group that are constantly all over each other. When I say, "all over each other," I mean holding hands all the time, arms around waists a lot, etc. Nothing too graphic, but inappropriate, in my opinion, nonetheless. These two couples went on our winter retreat this weekend and last night, on the way back from the conference, I was informed by one of our male chaperones that one of the girls had her head on the guy's head (couple #1) and they were smooching. (I really don't care how long it was, because, well, I just don't care.)

    The adult chaperone let me know about what he saw and I set up guidelines: for the remainder of the trip they were not to sit next to each other, on the bus, at the conference, or at mealtime, and generally they did a pretty good job about that. It was the first time since they had been dating that I didn't have to keep an eye on them. (All the couples involved are 15 and 16 years of age).

    I didn't find out about the other couple (couple #2) kissing last night until the ride home. From having previously spoken to his parents about the situation, his parents had placed a "Do Not Touch" rule on them (which I didn't know about until I returned). It was too late to really do anything about it.

    Upon returning back, I spoke with both of the guys' parents about the situation. Both attend different much smaller churches on Sunday mornings, but go on trips, worship with us, even play basketball in a league with us. Both parents have come to the conclusion that their sons will attend only their original church for awhile (which I would agree with if either of them had been my parent.)

    Both of the girls are active members of our church, as well as their parents, so I was going to wait until tomorrow to talk with them, since the girls went to their home with their boyfriends' parents, who drove them. I got a call from one of the moms (couple #2) tonight at 10:00 (see, a youth minister's job is never done) who was frantic because her daughter was very upset, because the guys' mom had told the daughter that she was a bad influence on the son's life. (Kinda inappropriate, since if that conversation should take place at all, it should happen mom-to-mom). I had to explain to the mom what happened on the phone, who sorta agreed that it was wrong, but wanted to know who "squealed." She was very upset at the other mom for talking to her daughter that way. I just wanted to crawl under the bed and get out of it. Ish.

    Anyway, I imagine that I will be having another conversation tomorrow. Both of the parents of the guys were very happy that I had spoken up - all of the parents are committed Christians who want what is best for their kids, which is an excellent thing, I think. So here, are my questions:

    1. What are your rules in your youth group about what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior and what "line" has to be crossed for you to go to mom and dad about the behavior? (Personally, I don't like the holding hands at all, but that's not really a concern so long as it doesn't go past that...)

    2. How would you have handled the situation? What would you do differently? What's the next step in this sordid soap opera?


    (BTW, the worst part was that two weeks ago we had a conversation about purity, what that looks like, and how it extends much, much farther than just not having premarital sex. The girls continue to dress way too provocatively and the couples continued their negative behavior. Hopefully, though, I'm getting through to the other 98 kids! [​IMG] )
     
  2. go2church

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    I had the girls sit with girls, boys sit with boys on the van, bus (whatever) at night rule. Darkness is just too tempting for younger couples. During the day couples could sit up front. The back is too tempting for young couples. Everyone thought I was a square, except the parents! Generally, I (or one of my sponsors) use the if I don't like how, where, or when you are holding hands, arms, elbows, pockets, hair, feet you can't do it. Also if the rules get broken, no touching at all and looking only for two minutes at a time. ;)

    I took a hard line on the physical affection thing. The last thing I wanted was the Suzy got knocked up at the all-nighter story. That is a career and youth group morale killer.
     
  3. TaterTot

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    SCott, I can feel your pain. Couples in a youth group can really put a damper on group dynamics. No one really LIKES to see kids all over each other.

    Right now we dont have any couples, but our general rule is no PDA. If we see it, they are seperated. Period. We have to be a little harsh b/c in the past we had some kids "having fun" on the church bus every Sunday night.

    And I wouldnt want my daughter to be allowed to PDA when on a trip either. I would be mad if someone DIDNT tell me. You are doing the right thing. Hang in there!
     
  4. gb93433

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    When I taught in a secular high school I always required the parents and students to sign a permission slip and rules paper. On the paper it stated if they were caught with anything illegal they would be immediately taken to the nearest police station and it was their responsibility to get home.

    I always made the paper and permission slip using very strong language. Never once did I have a problem.

    Always spell out the rules in detail and what you expect from each person before they leave. Don't assume anything. If you do that the nonsense will be kept to a minimum and everyone will enjoy themselves.

    But you will find students appreciate straighter talk then their parents. Tell it like it is.

    You can spend a lot of time putting out fires or you can spend time preparing them for a great time.

    Several years ago I was preaching one Sunday in 1 Cor. 7 and two friends of a young lady showed up. Funniest thing is that the mother told me that her daughter was starting to feel uncomfortable around her friends because they were all over their boy friends. When I stood up to preach I saw some old folks a little uneasy but the young people knew what I was saying. Later the parent of the young lady thanked me because I gave their daughter some answers. I told them that a young man who will want sex with them before marriage does not love them but uses them.

    Students respect adults who stand up for what is right. Even in the secular high school I would talk about those things. Some of those students told me later they appreciated my wisdom and asked me where I got it.

    I would also have a one on one talk with those students in your office and give them a chance to reason with you. You may find out some other things you do not know about. There have been times when I have assumed the wrong things and was totally wrong. I didn't know that until I talked with the student. Talk with them in a calm voice.
     
  5. Ben W

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    Be carefull not to make to many rules, try and keep it simple and all about respect for others. Otherwise kids will naturally rebel and get a kick out of breaking the rules!
     
  6. Shiloh

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    "Both of the parents of the guys were very happy that I had spoken up - all of the parents are committed Christians who want what is best for their kids, which is an excellent thing"
    You are about ready to find out they might not be as "COMMITTED" as you think! I think you know what to do....just stick to your guns.
     
  7. aefting

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    When I ran our teen group, we did not allow any physical contact and we did not allow boys and girls to sit together on the bus or van. The other thing we did was to insist that teen activities were group activities, not dates -- no pairing off. Stay and fellowship with the group.

    Andy
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    I always had a no PC rule when I was a youth pastor. At night, teens had to ride in the front seat of the van. One girl told me once it sounded like I didn't trust them I told she was right, I didn't trust me either. I told the teens that the rule didn't mean that holdiing hands was sin; it just meant that we weren't going to go down that road in teh youth group. I never had great problems on the activities. Had some extracurricular stuff that got pretty ugly.

    If I were you, I don't know what I would do. Maybe that is why I am not in youth work anymore :D
     
  9. ForHisGlory15

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    I don't know your church situation or if this is feasible for you, but I am a firm believer that it is essential for a youth group to have a no physical conduct rule and to enforce it with great seriousness. If the rule is surrounded with a lot of attention to pure biblical teaching about the importance that God puts on physical purity that flows from a pure heart, the rule doesn't have to become a statement that any physical contact outside of marriage is sin, but instead, a statement about the value you place on purity. The teenage years provide the best time to internalize biblical thought and to learn that God cares most about their heart purity; and that's just impossible to learn when their exploding hormones are allowed to drive their actions. At this age, the hormones need relegated to the back seat, not the teens.

    Having said this, I think it's just as imperative to take seriously the task of guiding the teenagers toward the goal of personalizing God's call for purity so that it will be embraced without the continual need for the external control that you incorporate in the youth group. We do our teens a terrible diservice in not keeping this goal in their view as it relates to all the externals. By the time they go to college, our desire should be to see them learning to lead lives constrained more by the love of God than by the rules of man.
     
  10. ForHisGlory15

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    Scott, I was just reading my post this morning and realized it sounds rather devoid of sensitivity considering the experience you've had with these teens. Reading through the thread, I lost some of the heart of the situation, and I wanted to tell you I will pray for you as you tend to this. These things are tough.

    I still strongly recommend a no physical contact rule, and perhaps establishing this would lay the groundwork for a new beginning in this area. I know it's difficult, and you will meet resistence; but I think the majority of parents would be extremely supportive, especially if you take time to meet with them and share your concerns and your heart. The Lord bless you as you seek to guide your teens to Christlikeness.
     
  11. ScottEmerson

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    Things are back to "normal." The two girls are back and seemingly fine. One of the guys has returned and is still bringing his friends. He and the girl have broken up, which enabled him to realize just why I did what I did. The other couple is together, and he's still not allowed back at the church, but things are better. Thanks for all of your help.
     
  12. MNsaint82

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    I have to agree that it is so important to have strict rules in place for youth group trips of any sort. But I think the adults should explain to the youngsters, especially if there are any unsaved on the trip. I was unsaved and dating my saved girlfriend (now wife) and went with her youth group to a very nice concert. The problem wasn't that we weren't allowed to sit or talk together, but that none of the adults explained the Bibles rules for dating. I don't know if that would have got through to me or not, I was unsaved, but I was seeking out God (or rather, He was seeking me, Praise Him). Now I am a Christian parent of three, and I do believe in giving the young ones reasons as to why we enforce such rules.
     
  13. Ian Miller

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    We have a real problem with our youth group. The vast majority of them are gang members. They have tagged our church and vandalized property. They see the church as a gang hangout. I have spoken with the pastor but he is strongly behind the youth ministry and will continue the program. Adults incluind myself have served as supervisors but they always find a way around the adults. They hang out in the street in front of the church smoking. How long do we allow these "youths" to desecrate the church before we pull the plug.
     
  14. jshurley04

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    "Desecrate the church"? Come on!!! After reading these posts the one thing that I do not hear is the love of God coming through, just a bunch of STUPID rules. Until you show the teens that you care and are not interested in causing friction between them and the parents, you will not succed in allowing them to see your heart or give you a hearing.

    I have two couples in my group that are very well behaved, but only since I have arrived. After a few weeks, I began to notice that one particular couple was rather handsy. (Teens want to be respected and treated as adults) So I did what any good youth pastor should do, I did not say a word to the parents, I went to the couple in private and explained that what they were doing in public told me what they were doing in private. When they realized what that meant, they were a little shocked at first, but immediately they changed the way that they behaved. I do not see them ever alone now, they always try to have a younger sibling to keep a check and balance and they have my complete trust. Something that the other posts in this thread seem to lack.
     
  15. El_Guero

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    Js

    IMHO ... WHEW! I do hope and pray that your speech with your parents has more love and grace ...

    I honestly pray to Our Father, that His Holy Spirit will intervene ... because PARENTS HAVE GIVEN YOU THEIR TRUST ... and it does not sound good for them ...

    ... if you must betray a trust, betray the trust of the teens over that of the parents ... UNLESS there is abuse involved on the part of the parents, and then get the law involved ...

    Just my opinion ...
     
  16. El_Guero

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    Scott,

    Admirable work! I do not envy you at all ...

    God Bless,

    Wayne
     
  17. ScottEmerson

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    An update: The issues have been dealt with. The boys both personally apologized for placing me in an awkward situation. Everyone is back and they are behaving MUCH better. Yesterday, they signed up for one of our summer mission trips. They've repented, I've forgiven, and I'm continuing on.
     

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