Last week we had a great opportunity for our newer youth leaders to be trained by an amazing organization called Darkness To Light. The over all aim of this group is to equip adults to recognize and be aware of childhood sexual abuse. Our hope and goal is that all of our leaders young and old end up going through this training.
For me it’s a very tangible equipping of our leaders to bring the light of Christ into the darkness. D2L is an international organization and facilitates their “Stewards of Children” training for all groups both secular and faith based. The nature of youth ministry is one where deep issues are often brought up and students seek us as leaders to ask some of the hard questions about life and faith issues. Here are some of our structures to help ensure that both leaders and students can answer these questions in a safe environment.
- All conversations between students and leaders are done in an observable, and interrupt-able situation.
- Leaders never lead alone. All of our small groups have two leaders. This is not only for safety but also the sanity of a leader. Going as a team helps the leadership burden be shared.
- We background check all our paid and volunteer leaders. This is not a silver bullet but it is part of a chain of safety.
- Develop some great relationships with local Christian counselors. These people are a great resource and the time to build these relationships are before you need to refer to them.
- Walk with volunteers and leaders through an awareness program such as the above mentioned Stewards of Children by D2L.
If a student doesn’t feel safe then their ability to hear the gospel is diminished. We must remove any and all hindrances as we bring this life changing message of Christ to hearts of young people.