“Freedom for Healthy Community”
Trips are a vital part of youth ministry. For spiritual formation or mission action, times away bond students and leaders and create openness to hearing God’s voice. Amidst the pressures of students’ daily lives, our trips create peace-giving freedom in a microcosm of healthy Christian community. To that end, we expect all of our students to experience freedom from particular negatives that normally surround them. A healthy youth community grows when these are absent:
Nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, misused prescription drugs, pornography, weapons, intimate sexual contact, illegal activities, and any conduct deemed seriously detrimental to the group.
Every student on our youth trips should feel free from these destructive pressures.
Therefore, use, possession of, or participation in any of the above will result in immediate calls to the student’s parents/guardians and a return home, at the parents’ expense, at the earliest practicable time. Also, during the trip, the church grants the Director of Youth Ministry the authority and discretion to determine if and when this policy has been violated.
Signed agreement to the above philosophy and ensuing policy is a necessary prerequisite for participation in any youth trip.
Further, in order to continue to create healthy, free, Christ-receiving, love-giving community, we continue to enact a no cell-phone policy on youth trips and expect that youth consent to receive direction from youth leaders during the trip. Along with our values of welcome, kindness, and acceptance, we believe this policy creates peaceful freedom for all youth participants.
General Safety Guidelines:
There is nothing more important in the youth ministry than the safety of our students. We will do everything to the best of our ability to keep them safe and secure while in our care. This speaks volumes to the families that we serve.
• The "Rule of Three" ensures that no FPCBR youth staff member or volunteer is ever alone with a child in a private space.
• There must be at least two volunteers in a classroom before youth are received. No one may be alone in a classroom with a child.
• No one is to be alone in a bathroom at any time with a child.
• Students may never be alone in a group (adults and minors) that consists only of the opposite sex.
• All staff and responsible leadership have access to all classrooms where youth activities are taking place.
• Youth staff driving on ministry business are to avoid cell phone use—even hands-free—when transporting children, while driving in heavy traffic, during hazardous weather conditions, or when it violates local law. Youth staff are never to read or send text messages while driving. Age requirements to drive students on retreats/trips is 25 years or older.
Social networking, texting, e-mailing and other forms of electronic communication are a reality in the lives of our youth. They offer an opportunity to develop and deepen relationships in new ways and are therefore a vital part of youth ministry work. However, their improper use can produce serious consequences.
The following guidelines apply commonly accepted principles of healthy boundaries for digital networking and communication. Our calling is to meet youth participants where they are; model healthy boundaries; and love and care for students safely.
• No adult FPCBR staff member or volunteer can “friend” a youth participant on social media. It puts the youth in an awkward place if he receives a request from someone in a position of power when he would prefer to keep his online life private.
• All FPCBR youth staff and volunteers must agree to keep social media accounts set to private. If you choose to allow youth participants to follow you, please be aware of the responsibility to keep content free of inappropriate language and behavior (WWJP-What Would Jesus Post?).
• Only approve friend requests from youth participants when permission is granted by a parent or guardian.
• FPCBR youth participants should NEVER be tagged on FPCBR Youth social media posts. Likewise, youth staff and volunteers should NEVER tag youth participants in posts on personal social media accounts.
• FPCBR employees and volunteer youth workers who want to communicate with minors using text messaging, email, or other forms of electronic media must agree to follow guidelines set forth by the FPCBR Youth Ministry and obtain permission from the parent or guardian of the minor.
• Your emails and texts should communicate facts not feelings. If content of an email or text raises concerns, share it with a member of the pastoral team, or supervisor. Phone conversations and face-to-face meetings are the preferred mode of communication when responding to emotionally driven situations or emergencies.
• FPCBR youth employees and volunteers may not transmit any content that is illicit, abusive, pornographic, discriminatory, harassing, or disrespectful when communicating with each other or with minors involved in ministry activities.
• Avoid using “chat features” or going into private discussion chat rooms with youth participants (texting and phone calls preferred - with permission of parent or guardian).
• It is up to the adult to set healthy boundaries and tone. Youth use texting as a primary mode of communication. Texting for specific details (the time of the meeting/clarifying what to pack) is fine. Texting emotional or social conversations should be avoided.
• When contacting youth participants, the "home phone rule" is a basic rule of thumb –keep conversation to ten minutes max, do not text, chat, or email back-and-forth with students at a time you would not normally call their home, i.e. before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM. If a youth contacts you after hours and it’s not an emergency, call them back in the morning after 8:00 AM.
• Youth staff or volunteers who become aware of possible child abuse through electronic media must immediately notify their supervisor. The ministry will report abuse as required by law.
• Remind young people that if you see content on their pages that lead you to believe they are being hurt, may hurt someone else or may be hurt in the future, it is your role as a leader to report these concerns to their parents.
• Consistency with all youth participants on all platforms is of the utmost importance.
• Video Chatting with youth participants is strongly discouraged – if you must, be aware of what you’re wearing and of your surroundings.
• Remember that you are setting an example for youth participants in every interaction, either in person or through use of technology. If boundaries start to feel cloudy, print off discussion so that you have a record and seek guidance from a supervisor.
• When using photos and videos of minors for ministry purposes, respect the dignity of every person depicted in an image.