Jonathan's Answers to Tough Questions
I'm a youth pastor in INDIANA. I'm just getting started with this ministry, and I am having a little bit of trouble controlling the kids during youth group. There is always two or three kids who keep talking even after I tell them to be quiet. I have been getting opinions on what i should do, and
thought you might have some insight on the matter.
Thanks a lot,
Get yourself a high velocity paint pellet gun and ... oh ... wait ... did I just say that out loud?
Thanks for the email. Good question! Five principles to think about:
- ONE ON ONE: Rules without a Relationship lead to Rebellion. Hey that's good . . . I should write that down. My number one priority for myself and my staff is always "spending time with students." One-on-one times with students reap 10 times greater results than large group time. Spending time with students individually, listening to them, getting to know them, earns their respect. It's nice to be respected by a lot of the students in the room . . . it won't be so hard to demand it.
- PLANNED SOCIAL TIME: The first thing to consider is that we often set students up for failure. We sometimes put them in situations where they haven't seen their friends all week, they walk in a room, see them, and we tell them to shut up and sit down. Don't put students in this situation. The #1 thing students like to do is "kick it with there friends." Don't deprive them of this. Plan a time where they can just hang out with their friends. If they're junior highers- plan a time where they can roll, wrestle, run, jump, swim and hurl mud at their friends!
- ONE RULE: We have to let students know our expectations. I always let students know the reason we're there (eg: to have a great time together, and talk about issues that are affecting us daily. Or, to get to know Christ on a deeper level through a time of worship and study.) Then I always state that there is one rule: "RESPECT." (no need to play the Aretha Franklin song) I tell them to "respect each other, respect the facility, and respect the staff. If you can obey that one rule . . . we're glad to have you. If you can't . . . the door is always open for you when you can!" When It comes time to worship or talk from up front- I might remind them that when I'm talking they need to respect me. After a while your students will know the rule well- and even help you endorse it.
- THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB VS. THE LOST SHEEP: You can't let the entire group suffer because of a small few. If a few students are goofing around, you need to "put the smack down." Tell them that they are out of line, they need to quit or you'll kick them out. If they do it again- DO WHAT YOU SAID and kick them out! They'll be shocked the first time. I usually start each year busting some kid as an example- then they know I'm serious.
Now some would say, 'What about THAT kid? Are you going to abandon him? Isn't he the "lost sheep?" Well, once you "bust" a problem kid, don't slam the door with a loud "And stay out!" Tell one of your staff take the student out and call the parent(s). Your staff will explain the situation to the student and the parents and let them know that you will contact them that week. Contact the student the next day and let him or her know that they are welcome back if they can show respect.
- GOOD AIR: Remember to keep a positive atmosphere in the room- if you have to bust a kid- do it- do it quickly, then go back to having fun. Nothing worse than a room full of mad staff looking for their next kid to yell at. Remember, your staff are there to build relationships with students, not to be a "Chaperone!" Student's don't want chaperones . . . but they are interested in someone who is truly interested in them. Keep the momentum positive. Don't steer down the downward spiral of "What am I going to do with all of you!" Negative momentum is hard to climb out of.