WAKE UP FROM YOUR SLEEP
1-2Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.3-4Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.5You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.6-7Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that.8-10You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.11-16Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!
Our Philosophy of Leadership
Leadership and team ministry is perhaps my favorite piece of working in the local church. I believe that working with a staff and volunteers allows the strengths and gifts of each individual to shine, and when the team works toward a common vision God is honored by the work of all. I have come to understand that team ministry, if done right, is a very effective way to lead students. My goal is to work on a staff that is diverse in gender, age, ethnicity, and talent. Recruiting, training, developing and equipping a team of volunteers are sure ways of allowing church members to be a part of the church life in a real and tangible way. When deciding who will be involved in leadership, we look for chemistry, competency, and character. Does the potential leader have good chemistry with the students and staff? Are they life long learners looking to further their skills? Are they who they say they are in public and private? These are all things we consider in the screening process for people who are interested in being on the leadership team.
At Bellingham Covenant Church, we want to live out the leadership principles Jesus modeled in his life. In Matthew 23 Jesus says, “The greatest among you will be your servant.” This “servant leadership” is at the heart of who we are called to be as leaders. While many may view leadership as those people who are at the top, we seek to lead our students from within. This means that we intentionally try to get to know our student and their families in order to serve them more effectively. Additionally, as we are in relationship with students and their families, we want to encourage leaders to use their gifts as they serve. Some may be great teachers, some have the gift of hospitality, while others are simply great at listening to others...whatever the case, we want to foster the gifts, talents and abilities of each leader. Finally, we want our leadership to be a response to who God is in our life; living obediently to the call of Christ is essential to all who lead.
Relationships With Student
Discretion in staff members’ personal lives is fundamental to both spiritual integrity and to continuing to do spiritual ministry among students and their families (Ephesians 5:1-12, 15-16). To live wisely and without any hint of sexual misconduct we keep the following standards:
- Any verbal or nonverbal sexual interaction with any student is inappropriate and therefor prohibited.
- Dating or “going-out” with any middle school or high school student is forbidden.
- Discretion must be used in physical contact with any student. Innocent behavior can be misinterpreted. A hug may be appropriate, but a full body-to-body hug, stroking, massaging, or affectionate kissing is not. Any display of affection, even hugging, for example, should be made in a public setting in front of other group members.
- Sexual gestures or overtures to a leader by a student must be reported to the youth pastor immediately so that a discussion can be held with the student.
- Leaders should form male/female ministry teams whenever possible.
- Female leaders are here to build relationships with other female leaders and students
- Male leaders are here to build relationships with other male leaders and students
- One-on-one meetings or counseling with a student should always occur in a public place, never alone in a car, a house/apartment, or private room.
- As a general rule when meeting with or counseling someone, let the parent or youth pastor know that the meeting is happening.
- When a situation arises where you are alone with a student of the opposite gender, quickly move that situation to a public setting. Make the meeting as brief as necessary to accomplish God's purpose.
- You can always find a private corner in the busiest room.
- Parent approval is necessary when driving with students.
- Driving alone with a student of the opposite gender should be avoided at all times.
- Get parent permission to do this and let the youth pastor know that it is happening.
- Romantic or sexual attraction for a student by an adult leader should be brought up and discussed with the youth pastor for prayer and guidance.
- All suspicions of child or sexual abuse must be reported to the youth pastor who will report it to the mandated reporter in the organization. That person will notify the appropriate agency.
- Any knowledge or suspicion of any youth ministry staff having an inappropriate relationship with a student must be reported promptly to the youth pastor. If the person in question is the youth pastor, the report should be made to the supervisor of that person.
- No wrestling or physical horseplay should ever occur between staff and students of the opposite sex.
- Church staff/volunteer leaders should obtain the consent of the student's parent or guardian before going out with that student, or spending time with the student in an unsupervised situation. (coffee, lunch, dinner, etc)
- College Students: Leaders may not live with someone of the opposite gender (unless married or related) and must do all you can to live in appropriate and healthy situations on campus.
Acknowledging that one of the most fulfilling relationships in Scripture and life is the one that a man and woman share, we recognize that a leader may establish a relationship with a leader of the opposite gender. We also recognize that one of the greatest visible destroyer of ministries is moral impurity. The following policies should be understood in that light.
- Volunteer Leaders may not date a student in middle school or high school.
- Church staff may not date volunteers who are under their supervision.
- Volunteer Leaders who are involved in a dating relationship with other volunteer leaders should model appropriate behavior at all times.
- Students should not be able to tell that you are dating.
- In the case of premarital sex, extramarital sex, immediate suspension from leadership will occur.
- Remember, as you date another member of the church that if the relationship ends that person will still be around to testify to your behavior and character.
To keep our integrity
The motives, attitude, and actions of staff should be completely transparent to any observer. Our honesty should be testable by Luke 16:10-12.
- Faithfulness in little things—being on time, keeping our word, filling requests on time, following through with students and other responsibilities.
- Faithfulness in relationships—students are ALWAYS watching how we act around one another. We must remember that our primary role is to know, love, serve, and celebrate students. We are blessed to experience a great community amongst leaders, but that must never take precedence over serving our students.
- Faithfulness in money—turning in receipts, being very cautious with event cash and petty cash, remembering people have sacrificially given that dollar.
- Faithfulness in that which belongs to another—treating all the church equipment and property with utmost respect.
To be teachable
None of us must claim to have arrived at infallibility. We must continually attend sessions, conferences, worship services, read, and observe with a teachable spirit, continually seeking to grow. If you have an area you’d like to grow in, please talk with your youth pastor! They can help encourage and resource you.
To be an appropriate role model
Leadership responsibilities naturally require frequent interaction with students and their families, as well as the community. Youth leaders come into Christian ministry from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs—especially in the gray areas of Christianity.
Because leaders are role models, they must use careful discretion when choosing movies, music, etc., for ministry activities The use of R-rated movies is prohibited with middle school students and parental permission is required with senior high students. Use PG-13 movies with extreme caution. In all cases, preview a movie that you’re considering showing at a youth activity. When in doubt, check with parents or a ministry director.
Along with entertainment choice, substances used by staff model behavior to students. Since the number one substance abused by teenagers is alcohol, staff will abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages in the presence of students.
Since we live in the digital age, we need to remember that online social networks are considered public space (facebook, instagram, spotify, vine, snapchat, etc.) Therefore, all conversations, pictures, groups, etc. must be appropriate and “wholesome.” Keep these networks under control and delete unwanted content immediately.
To develop a servant's heart
"Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…who made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant…He humbled Himself, and became obedient…even the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:3-8).
We aren’t concerned about rank or position; the one in the pulpit is of no greater importance in God's eyes than the one leading a small group or driving the bus. As we faithfully serve one another within the ministry, the Lord expands our outreach and provides opportunities to serve those outside of the ministry. In homes, at church, and in the community, others should remember us by our willingness to serve them. "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:10 and Luke 17:10).
"People look on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart."
The first phrase is not the heart of the verse, but it’s the truth. Students and adults will base their impression of our ministry on their impression of us. For this reason we wear appropriate clothing
(1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
• The activity should dictate the type of clothing worn.
- All of our clothing should be clean, communicating personal discipline and recognition of self-worth, be modest, protecting the reputation and image of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Corinthians 8:27, 1 Thessalonians 4:6a), and avoid masking our inner qualities (1Peter 3:1-8).
STEPS TOWARD PREVENTING SEXUAL ABUSE
At Bellingham Covenant Church, we take serious our charge to create a safe place for our students and our volunteer staff. This document will help you know how to best protect our students and yourself.
1. Selection and screening
- Clearing the applicants name with the pastoral staff
- Requiring thorough staff application, including references that we call and background check
- Conducting interview with youth pastor
- Enforcing a probationary period
- Accepting only those applicants willing to let the ministry do a background check
- New volunteers are paired with veterans for a time and are not alone with students
- New volunteers are specifically evaluated at 30, 60, and 90 days
- All volunteers receive at least yearly evaluations based on supervisory observation
- Our policy requires two adults be present with a student or group of students
- Any one-on-one meeting is conducted in a public place or in a room with an open door where there’s regular, human traffic
3. Specific reporting process
Basic steps to be followed in possible abuse cases:
- All efforts to handle the incident will be well documented immediately
- The incident will immediately be reported to ministry supervisors and, very likely,
- We will contact the proper civil authorities—they, not our ministry, will handle the investigation
- We will notify the parents
- We will take allegations seriously; reach out to the victim and his or her family; and treat the accused with dignity and support
- If the accused is a church worker, that person will be relieved temporarily of his or her duties until the investigation is finished
- We will use the text of a prepared public statement to answer the press and convey news to the congregation. Safeguarding the privacy and confidentiality of all involved will be our priority
4. The following are reporting procedures for volunteer staff
- If a child or student is observed to have signs of physical abuse (bruises caused by hitting, unexplainable injuries, etc.), volunteer staff should call these things to the attention of a pastoral staff member immediately
- If a child or student verbally accuses a family member or other person of abusing them in some way, the volunteer staff member should ask appropriate questions in an attempt to determine the veracity of the claims and the imminence of danger. If the truth of the claims seems clear, the matter should be immediately brought to the attention of a pastoral staff member. If the truth of the claims seems questionable, the claims should still be brought to the attention of a pastoral staff member on the same day that the claims are expressed
- Whether clearly true or questionable in the estimation of the volunteer staff member, the allegations or observations should put in writing on the day of the incident, including a verbatim/exact account of the observation and/or accusation. Every detail of the events—including date, time of day, names of persons involved, etc.—should be included in this report. The person making the report should keep one copy, and one copy should be given to the pastoral staff member who oversees that area of ministry. These reports must be kept safe and confidential. The pastoral staff member will be responsible for making a determination as to the appropriate actions to be taken as follow-up to these observations/accusations
5. Defining Sexual Abuse
1. Fondling—touching the body on private parts
2. Inappropriate kissing
3. Intercourse (consensual or non-consensual)
4. Oral or anal intercourse
1. Sexual remarks
2. Showing pornography
3. Watching any sexual activity
6. Detecting sexual abuse
- Most cases of sexual abuse go undetected. There may be no apparent physical signs, or there may be physical signs detected only through medical examination
- The cases that are reported are generally reported by abused children to their parents, siblings, or other caretakers—often in the form of casual remarks that lead the listener to query further
- Most children say nothing. They may not realize that what was done to them was wrong. Or they may be too embarrassed or frightened to speak up. They may not want to get the offender in trouble—especially if a friendship has developed between offender and victim
- In some cases, telltale physical or emotional signs may arouse your suspicion. In its publication The Educator's Role in the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect outlines certain indicators of sexual abuse
- Difficulty in walking or sitting
- Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
- Pain or itching in the genital area
- Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia, vaginal or anal area
- Venereal disease, especially in preteens
- Unwilling to change for gym or participate in physical education class
- Withdrawal, fantasy or infantile behavior
- Bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual behavior or knowledge
- Poor peer relationships
- Delinquency or running away
- Reports sexual assault by caretaker
These signs can be indicative of other problems and are not exclusively tied to sexual abuse. But the repeated occurrence of an indicator, or the presence of several indicators warrants further investigation.