Where is the safe environment in your student ministry?

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.

But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – Mr. Beaver

That quote above is from the “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. I sometimes hear that quote within the context of a church sermon or youth group message. A lot of Pastors have used that reference and I must admit, I may have used that as an illustration a time or 2 to talk about God. They use it to ask the question, “Is God safe?”

UnknownIt’s a good question and a good illustration to say that God may not be safe for people to follow – he’ll challenge you and push you beyond what you think you can do and are capable of doing. That is why he isn’t safe because following Christ isn’t about following the safe path or road. But, as hard as it may be to follow Christ, ultimately he is good.  I can’t argue with that and I agree.  God isn’t necessarily safe but he is good.

That being said, I was enlightened by the word “safe” lately that caused me to think differently about this quote and God.

Just last week my girls and I went on vacation to for our annual beach trip. It was wonderful as we love the beach. Of all of my girls, my 2 youngest are very daring and cause me a little bit more stress worrying about what they will do next haha.  For instance, at the beach, they like to go in the water and push the boundaries to see how far they can go. Again, stressful for me to watch.

But one interesting thing happened this year as they started going in.  They talked a really big game about how far they were going to go in, but as they started to go further and further out they wanted me to come out with them.  And, as I did, they held my hand tight.  One of them even said to me, “I feel safer now” now that I was with them.

“I feel safer now” made all the difference to them. With their dad by their side they were able to experience the waves in a whole different way and were able to go out a little bit further.

This directly applies to us as ministers and leaders.  We need to encourage our students that God may not be safe, but he is good. We need to encourage people that following God will push you and challenge you. HOWEVER, our environments that we bring students to MOST DEFINITELY BETTER be safe.

They need to be…

  • safe areas for them to be themselves without feeling judged
  • safe places where parents feel comfortable dropping their precious children off to for a few hours
  • safe environments for them to learn the TRUTHS about who God is
  • safe place for students to ask tough questions and process hard lessons without feeling like they are “bad” people for asking them

Our students NEED safety. And that is why it is so important for student ministers to promote an atmosphere of safety. The good news is I believe there isn’t one single student minister out there that doesn’t want to promote these above items in their student ministries.  However, I don’t think we are very intentional about it either.  I know I wasn’t at first.  And that is why this was a great reminder for me.

If we want students to own their faith and be able to withstand the challenges of life once they get out of our ministries, it all starts with providing a safe environment in your student ministry for them to process life. Without it, I fear students will just continue to turn away from Christ once they get you.

What do you think? Is your student ministry a safe place for students?  Where does safety come into play with your student ministry? Share your experiences below or on social media using #ymsidekick to share. 

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Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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