If you are a youth worker, paid or volunteer, you know all of the liabilities that youth ministry faces. From simply driving a student home to planning a hiking trip, you have to constantly think about the safety of the students as well as the safety of those serving the students, including yourself. Using Facebook for ministry is not excluded from this safe environment. Here are just a couple of ideas for keeping all protected:
- Protect Yourself. Protect Them.
There is so many news stories of religious clergy overstepping boundaries and getting in trouble, even when they were not doing anything wrong. Do not put yourself or your students in a compromising situation where you could be accused of something. Just like with any form of communicating, watch your words. Unlike any other form of communicating, Facebook is open for the world to see, including over-protective parents or a board member just looking for a reason to fire you.
- Have Permission Before Posting Pictures
There could be many reasons a student does not want their picture on Facebook. Their parents are divorced and the parent with custody does not want their ex to see anything. You went swimming and the student is not comfortable having their picture online. The guy just broke up with his girlfriend in the picture and is still upset. Whatever the reason, you should be sensitive to the students and families feelings.
- Be A Role Model
Another pitfall is that students can become “addicted” to streams of information on Facebook, which can foster a “gossip mentality,” said Buckley. “When students gather together, it is not uncommon to hear the phrase, ‘Did you see so-and-so’s status? Did you see the pics he posted?’ Many times, these statements turn into speculation and gossip, which can be hurtful.”
Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.