Physical Boundaries in Student Ministry

We all need boundaries in our lives, especially in ministry.

Nobody starts out ministry with the mindset of dropping their guard and cheating on their wife, church or family. Without a clear set of boundaries, a leader becomes blind to fade of their character.

The reason to build healthy physical boundaries is to avoid distracting people from the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

What we surround ourselves with will have an influence upon our actions. A leader who has a lack of physical boundaries is setting themselves and their ministry up for failure. Too many leaders have traded in character for a moment of pleasure. Never before has character and integrity been more needed in today’s church leaders.

3 ways to build impenetrable physical boundaries: 

1. Never be alone with a student of the opposite gender.

– Students of the opposite gender expressing the need to talk should be encouraged to talk to their small group leader. If you have to talk with them, it must be in a ministry setting in public.
– Make the hard choice to walk out and away when alone. What we do behind closed doors is just as important as what we do outdoors. In today’s world, an accusation is one step away from destroying character.
– Transportation: Do not drive them home alone.  If a student of the opposite gender is last to leave an event, ask a leader to stay until they are picked up.

2. Avoid counseling students of the opposite sex.
– Focus upon helping guys if you are a guy and vice versa. It is healthy to help, listen and encourage students of the opposite sex.
– Choose not to prolong counseling with the opposite sex, because it creates an unhealthy emotional bond. Make the wise choice, and urge guy leaders to counsel guys and girl leaders to counsel girls. I usually praise them for their decision and say something like, “I’m so grateful about you taking this step towards God, so I have a great leader that can help encourage you further” and connect them to the leader.

3. Maintain healthy physical touch.
– Help students feel valued by showing that you love them.
– Start giving high fives, side hugs and fist bumps. Physical touch should only happen in a public space, never in private.

Character is who we are when no one is looking and how we act when everyone is looking.

How important are physical boundaries in ministry? What would you add to the conversation? 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Josh is the student pastor at Church @ The Springs in Ocala, Florida ( Josh has served in student ministry for 9+ years and has a passion to lead students to imitate Christ and influence the world! He has a personal blog at[/author_info] [/author]