Two NOBTS professors, Jody Dean and Allen Jackson, recently published a book called Protect. It’s a youth-worker’s guide to navigating the risks inherent in youth ministry today.
Navigating risk in ministry has risen to a new level as many scandals and issues with churches have been exposed or reported in the past few years.
To address some of these issues in risk management, Allen Jackson and I teamed up with YM360 to produce a resource to help churches and their people start the conversation on new areas of concern and remind people of some areas that should still be on their radar each week.
One aspect that has been unchanging for ministry leaders is the concept of a shepherd.
We believe that as an actual shepherd provides protection from harm and dangers, both inside and outside the flock, the same should be true in our churches in how we protect our people from potential harm.
Ministry leaders should consider four areas in protecting their people:
An example of this would be for each volunteer to be vetted and trained through the lens of their testimony, references, and a background check. A person of good character can keep many issues from ever happening, and so it is important to begin here.
Many areas could be discussed in this critical area of protection, but we address four. Counseling considerations, protective procedures, online obnoxiousness, and bullying behavior are explored as ways ministry with minors should look to protect their minors.
We could not be exhaustive on each area and only crafted the narrative to help ministry leaders and their people to begin the dialogue on these important areas of ministry.
Mandatory reporting is a key area that anyone working with minors should examine to be sure they understand this key issue in protecting the minors in our churches. As one begins to consider the challenges of being an overseeing shepherd, the areas of supervision, security, and surveillance come into view.
In addition, the process for keeping up with who is in attendance and with whom they connect with to leave should be a process that is carefully discussed and executed. Each week the unexpected can happen from medical emergencies to severe weather, and so we spend a little time helping leaders to unpack this concept as well.
Facilities, trips, and a changing culture presents new opportunities and challenges. Many buildings were not designed and built with the modern-day challenges in mind. Trips present new challenges as one considers transportation, sleeping arrangements, and threats from others that can disrupt the vision behind the retreat in the first place.
We conclude with a few words about contemporary issues from active shooter to gender that have created the need for churches to have conversations about these concerns and develop their own path for planning and responding to these concerns.
As I’m sure you can tell the concept of “Protect” is exhaustive and worthy of consideration. I hope and pray that you will begin praying, learning, and talking about these areas so you can have a stronger and safer ministry.
Click here to get a copy of Protect: A Youth Worker's Guide to Navigating Risk.
Jody Dean, PhD is associate professor for Christian education and the director of mentoring programs in Christian Education at NOBTS.