Training Youth Volunteers | Facebook & Twitter Guidelines for Youth Ministry

Facebook guidelines for Youth Ministry

Below is an excerpt from the training manual I’m putting together for our youth volunteers. Feel free to copy/innovate for your own purposes.

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Almost all of us has been there before. We are surfing Facebook (or stalking) and we notice that a student has made a comment, status update, or uploaded a picture that we deem inappropriate. What do we do?

1. Contact the student personally.

  • When you make contact with the student, the first thing you should do is stress your love and care for them. Remind them that no one is perfect and that we all make mistakes. Remind them that as ambassadors of Christ, we are called to be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2). Then approach the issue with humility and grace.

2. Contact the parent.

  • If the student ignores your attempt for contact or blows you off, we suggest that you contact the parent. Explain to them the situation and again, express your love for their child. The parent might be somewhat guarded and possibly defensive. As you know, this is normal for any parent.  Approach the conversation with humility and grace.

3. Contact a student pastor.

  • If you’ve tried to contact the student and the parent without receptiveness, contact a student pastor and ask us to make contact with the student. As a leader, if you see something, we expect you to try to handle it. As always, we’re here for you, but we want you to feel empowered to make a difference too.
  • We’re always receptive and grateful if you keep us informed of situations while you’re trying to rectify them.

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How does your Student Ministry train volunteers to handle similar situations?

 

30 Comments

  1. I am having an intern for the first time this year, and this is perfect for them to help relieve me of potential black holes of time wasters. Great Post.
    • So many time wasters, I would love to have an intern. What about this post is the black hole though (seeing students on Facebook, or coming up with the policy) just curious
  2. I am having an intern for the first time this year, and this is perfect for them to help relieve me of potential black holes of time wasters. Great Post.
    • So many time wasters, I would love to have an intern. What about this post is the black hole though (seeing students on Facebook, or coming up with the policy) just curious
  3. I just started a new position and already seen some stuff that needs to be addressed. This is a hard subject because we don't want to be on FB just to "check up" on our students.
    • Agreed, Austin. And its a very sensitive subject. We have a very similar thing as Nick in our ministry, but we all have the understanding with things like this or other secondary disciplinary things (like dress code) that if you wouldn't take it well from the student, don't say it to them. At first that seems a bit like "What business does the student have telling me that anyway" but what we mean is that if you don't have a relationship with the student, its not your business yet, because by making it your business, your sacrificing the future relationship. Some things I see on Twitter with some of our fringe students are not good, but Im not going to address them in the same way as the students I have a mentor relationship with, if that makes sense.
  4. I just started a new position and already seen some stuff that needs to be addressed. This is a hard subject because we don't want to be on FB just to "check up" on our students.
    • Agreed, Austin. And its a very sensitive subject. We have a very similar thing as Nick in our ministry, but we all have the understanding with things like this or other secondary disciplinary things (like dress code) that if you wouldn't take it well from the student, don't say it to them. At first that seems a bit like "What business does the student have telling me that anyway" but what we mean is that if you don't have a relationship with the student, its not your business yet, because by making it your business, your sacrificing the future relationship. Some things I see on Twitter with some of our fringe students are not good, but Im not going to address them in the same way as the students I have a mentor relationship with, if that makes sense.
  5. I'd be very, very hesitant to contact a student's parents over this. It would have to be something illegal or potentially dangerous for themselves or others in order for me to take that step. I think if we start 'ratting out' students to their parents, we lose their trust...If I had talked about it with the students and he or she wouldn't take it down, I'd let it go.
    • Agreed, thats what I was trying to say above, some things aren't big enough to make a big deal out of, at the same time, if it is truly something that needs to be dealt with, then obviously it needs to be dealt with. But some leaders might see small things as huge things, and thats where the problem lies.
    • I don't see it as "ratting out." I would tell parents and then ask them not to share where they got the information. The majority of the time, students had no clue that it came from me.  Building and keeping trust is huge for me. I think we can be informative and maintain those relationships. 
  6. I'd be very, very hesitant to contact a student's parents over this. It would have to be something illegal or potentially dangerous for themselves or others in order for me to take that step. I think if we start 'ratting out' students to their parents, we lose their trust...If I had talked about it with the students and he or she wouldn't take it down, I'd let it go.
    • Agreed, thats what I was trying to say above, some things aren't big enough to make a big deal out of, at the same time, if it is truly something that needs to be dealt with, then obviously it needs to be dealt with. But some leaders might see small things as huge things, and thats where the problem lies.
    • I don't see it as "ratting out." I would tell parents and then ask them not to share where they got the information. The majority of the time, students had no clue that it came from me.  Building and keeping trust is huge for me. I think we can be informative and maintain those relationships. 
  7. I appreciate the simplicity of this and wish I had some of these guidelines when I first started out and AOL Instant Messenger was the best thing out there.  As I think about dealing with Facebook and the "ugly" side of it, it really is important to have some guidelines in place.  While I agree that the leader who sees the inappropriate post should approach the student and/or parent, I would encourage them to also let the youth minister know they've made the contact.  Then if the youth minister is approached, they aren't caught off guard and can affirm/support the ministry of the leader.
  8. I appreciate the simplicity of this and wish I had some of these guidelines when I first started out and AOL Instant Messenger was the best thing out there.  As I think about dealing with Facebook and the "ugly" side of it, it really is important to have some guidelines in place.  While I agree that the leader who sees the inappropriate post should approach the student and/or parent, I would encourage them to also let the youth minister know they've made the contact.  Then if the youth minister is approached, they aren't caught off guard and can affirm/support the ministry of the leader.
  9. I don't know that we address anything quite so specifically, but... some denominational leaders in our region put this handy dandy document together a while back...  http://www.dioceseofdelaware.net/resources/SocialMediaGuidelines.pdf
  10. I don't know that we address anything quite so specifically, but... some denominational leaders in our region put this handy dandy document together a while back...  http://www.dioceseofdelaware.net/resources/SocialMediaGuidelines.pdf

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