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Every good thing needs boundaries

Boundaries“Policy” can be seen as a bad word, a limit to our freedoms, a restriction on our rights. But if we consider it as a help and guide instead of a rule book, our policies can help us navigate these challenging and exciting times.

  • Is there someone(s) thinking about this for your church? Your staff? Your congregants? Your teenagers? Your children? It’s not too late to start today!
  • Remember that you cannot and should not ban interaction online just because of bad experiences. Instead you need to create some boundaries.
  • All staff – youth ministers, children’s ministers, educations, pastors, music ministers, etc, need to talk about concerns like:
    • Longevity,
    • Lack of anonymity,
    • Discernment and a need to filter info,
    • Who you trust vs. distrust and when to use caution,
    • Parental involvement, rights and boundaries,
    • Age limits and time limits,
    • Passwords and private profiles

It’s important to note that 87% of teens with very concerned parents have private profiles (PewResearch); when we talk about it, they listen. StickyJesus has some good advice about boundaries for teenagers.


Policies Themselves

  • Here are some examples of policies for non- and for-profit organizations, including some churches. As well as this example from the Kentucky Baptist Convention developed by the National Association of Church Business Administrators.
  • Set a policy WITH your staff (not for!) and church leaders. In other words, allow the ministers, lay people and those directly involved at the table to discuss an appropriate policy. Is it ok in your church community for the youth minister to send a text to a youth at 1 a.m.? What about receive a text at 1 a.m.?
  • Questions to ask of the staff:
    • what is appropriate behavior?
    • what is not allowed?
    • who has access to accounts?
  • Don’t guess on what you think everyone will approve of – especially for younger ministers. Set the boundaries now to prevent a huge misunderstanding later.
  • Don’t forget a policy for volunteers and lay leaders – especially since clergy are usually taught to be more cautious. Review the policy with each new volunteer when they take a leadership role.
  • Make sure you have an agreed upon policy for photos and videos of youth and children online. Review this policy every few years.


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