Thinking Out Loud

January 28, 2018

Youth Pastors: Avoid Any Hint of Compromising Situations

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:49 am

All of the stories currently circulating of Youth Pastors facing charges for inappropriate sexual contact or assault reminded me of something that happened when I was doing itinerant youth ministry. If I didn’t have a booking on a particular Friday night, there was one youth drop-in where I would hang out. One night Mike wanted to talk.

So yes, this story involves another guy, but the principle is the same.

Mike said he needed to speak to me privately and confidentially about an issue he was struggling with. He was a 15 year old boy; do the math. It was then that I got a brilliant idea and created a situation that I would then repeat several times in successive weeks when someone felt the need to unburden themselves.

I took my car — my hatchback car that was all windows — and repositioned it to the parking spot that was right by the door. (There were no handicapped spots back then.) That way, even though people were passing by — coming and going every few minutes — Mike could talk and I could listen.

I later did this when some of the girls wanted to talk. Nobody could say, “We saw Paul and ______ sitting in his car;” because the whole point was that they were able to see Paul and ______ sitting in my car. Nothing looked untoward because everything was in full view.

Is this in the Student Ministry training textbook? I don’t know. It worked then and to me it was just youth ministry common sense.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t girls in the group I wouldn’t have liked to date; but for the most point there would have been an 8-10 year difference. Creepy then. Creepy now.

I later married a girl where there was a similar age difference, but we were both older. Definitely no creepy factor.

As to the current headlines, I think that many of those situations could have been avoided if the student pastors had a day-to-day accountability partner. Another pastor on staff. Another youth pastor in the town or city.

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