See our Access ministries page for more information about serving and equipping people with special needs. In Junior High Ministry in particular, we want to do everything we can to incorporate students with disabilities into our cell groups, believing that "God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired" (1 Corinthians 12:18). The goal is to fully include all students as much as possible. Each case is unique, so we encourage home group leaders and parents to contact us to discuss the opportunities and needs germane to specific students.
About our Ministries:
All throughout the year, we spend hundreds of hours recruiting adult leaders from within our church for junior high work. This is no easy task, especially in a "cell-based" church, like Xenos, where the focus is maintaining healthy adult outreaching small groups. If someone is interested in volunteering in Middle School Ministries, they turn in an application with a home group leader as a reference. We then evaluate the application, perform a background check and interview the applicant. We will then place them in a cell group or as a volunteer at one of our big meetings.
How do we train and equip our leaders?
Efforts need to be made in equipping our adult leaders for student work because it's easy to lose the vision for this work and become complacent. We regularly need fresh insights, our vision cleared, and new practical ideas. Therefore, our leadership provides several opportunities to accomplish this including quarterly leaders' meetings and training videos available online. In our Student Ministry programs, we require all of our leaders to be actively involved in adult fellowship where they can build healthy accountable relationships and be fed challenging Bible teachings. Our church has about 100 home Bible study groups from which to choose and we hold out for consistent home group involvement before we accept a volunteer leaders in our ministry.
Policies for volunteers: To insure the safety of our youth and protect our church from liability, we have developed and enforced distinct policies for our adult leaders.
Dangerous & Illegal Activities: The following policy should be adhered to regarding the participation in potentially dangerous & illegal activities while engaged in youth work. Failure to comply with this policy will result in disciplinary action. Please see to it that all of the work force in your group is familiar with this policy.
- No minor or adult student leader is permitted to engage in illegal activities, as provided for in the City Ordinance of Columbus, the Ohio Revised Code, or other applicable laws or statutes during a Xenos sponsored event.
- If there is an activity that is potentially dangerous, yet legal, the student group leader must receive a signed written waiver from the participating minor's parents or guardians in order for the minor to participate. Additionally, student groups leaders must exercise good judgment not to incur undue risks.
Alcohol: The following is a policy to be adhered to regarding the consumption of alcohol while engaging in youth work. Failure to comply with this policy will result in disciplinary action which could include the withdrawal of an individual leader from the student group or the withdrawal of an individual from a position of leadership in Xenos. As per the enclosed Ohio Revised Code, no one under the age of 21 years can legally consume alcohol without consent and presence of their parents, legal guardians, or spouse (if spouse is 21 years of age or older). Accordingly, we observe three rules outlined below. See the attached relevant sections of the Ohio Revised Code as well. Please see to it that all of the work force in your group is familiar with this policy. As per Sections 4301.63 and 4301.69 of the Ohio Revised Code, "Underage person" includes any person under the age of 21 years.
- No underage person is permitted to consume alcohol at any Xenos sponsored event except as otherwise provided in Section 4301.69 (B) of the enclosed Ohio Revised Code.
- Under no circumstances should any adult student worker provide underage persons with alcoholic beverages except as otherwise provided in Section 4301.69 (A) of the enclosed Ohio Revised Code.
- Adult youth leader may not consume alcohol at youth sponsored events.
Sexual Misconduct: The leaders of the Xenos Christian Fellowship felt it necessary to adopt a policy for the Student Ministries Division regarding sexual misconduct and adult youth workers. By no means do believe that our church could be immune to such an occurrence; therefore, we feel an aggressive position should be taken in protecting against incidents of sexual misconduct between adult leaders and minors in our youth groups. In doing this, we will be protecting minors and their families from the trauma associated with such incidents, as well as protecting our church. The risk of sexual contacts between adult leaders and youth group members can never be eliminated, but steps can be taken to significantly reduce the risk of sexual seduction. Below are policies that need to be followed by all adult workers.
- Adult youth leaders should not be alone with a youth member of the opposite sex.
This means that an adult male leader should not be permitted to drive an unaccompanied female student either to or from fellowship activities. Adult male leaders should be strictly prohibited from having sole custody of a female member of the youth group at any time, for any reason, with few exceptions (e.g., a younger brother or sister of the adult volunteer). Adult female leaders should also follow this guideline with male members of the youth group. It also means that the adult male youth leader and a female member of the youth group should not be permitted to engage in private counseling sessions, or to associate alone, with few exceptions. The same would be true with an adult female leader and a male youth. Also, it would be wise to have at least two adult leaders, preferably male and female, chaperone until the last youth leaves the meeting.
- Inappropriate touch
The youth leader should not engage in inappropriate physical touch with youth members of the opposite sex. Some types are listed below:
- Sitting on the lap of an adult volunteer
- Prolonged frontal embrace
- Inappropriate communication
The youth leader should not engage in inappropriate discussions with youth members of the opposite sex.
Any suspicions of inappropriate conduct should be immediately confronted and investigated.
Investigations into any possible violations of this policy or other types of sexual misconduct, should be conducted. Failure of adult leaders to comply with this policy will result in disciplinary action that could include the withdrawal of the leader from the student group. If the leader is not dismissed, prompt warnings should be issued when appropriate, and the situation monitored very closely by the leadership of the group.
Any violations of the above policies should be immediately reported to the Senior Leader of the Ministry Team. If the Senior Leader of the youth program has violated the above policies, then the Division Coordinator of Student Outreach and/or the eldership of Xenos should be notified.
Sexual relationships with minor members of the youth group can lead to a felony conviction and imprisonment in a state penitentiary.
Disclosure: Sexual and Physical Abuse
- Report Immediately:
- Report disclosure to your Senior Cell Group/Home Church Leader
- Together, report disclosure to Franklin County Children's Services (229-7000)
- Document the disclosure and give this to your youth pastor
- Never agree to keep silent.
- Be a support and direct them towards God.
- When appropriate, suggest counseling.
- For information on what to do in the case of rape, also see American Academy of Family Physician's Website: www.aafp.org/afp/980915ap/980915b.html
- First determine how serious the disclosure is.
- Was a time, place, or method disclosed? If so, act IMMEDIATELY!
- Strongly consider contacting the parents.
- Remove any accessibility to the means.
- Call a suicide hotline:
- Teen Hotline - 294-3300
- Adult Hotline - 221-5445
- Mobile Eval Unit - 276-2273
- Be there with them.
- If they won't call, make the call and get advice from Suicide Hotline.
- Keep them talking.
- Persuade them about their value in life.
- Show how they can impact others.
- Work in conjunction with your Senior Cell/Home Church Leader who will in turn work with his/her appropriate supervisor/pastor.
- Document the conversation immediately and give it to your senior cell group leader. Senior cell group leader will give the documentation to the Junior or Senior High Pastor.
Important note: Students who talk about suicide must be taken very seriously. Suicide can occur without warning. If a student is talking about suicide, it is extremely important to act immediately.
When a leader or fellow student has suspicions about a student using drugs/alcohol or engaging in sexual sin, or in cases where a student has confessed to drug/alcohol use or sexual sin (or any other serious moral failure):
- Volunteer leaders will report immediately to director/pastor.
- We generally follow the principles found in Matthew 18:15-17. The goal is discipline, not punishment. Cases need to be treated individually.
- Volunteer leadership will contact parents in these types of cases, but we generally give the students an opportunity to be open and admit to their parents first. (This is a healthy step for students to learn how to admit failure and be open with their parents)
- Volunteer leaders work in conjunction with the appropriate overseer/pastor of such cases, as these cases are serious and may lead to formal church discipline, which needs to be sanctioned by the church. For more information about church discipline please click here.
- Disciplinary consequences vary from case to case. Here are some examples of types of actions students may be counseled to or required to take; practice confession (to parents and peers), get counseling, enter rehabilitation, read specific scripture/literature related to offense, letter of apology to write, ending damaging relationships, suspension from Blowout or Cell group, and other types disciplinary actions in conjunction with the student’s parents and youth leaders.
While trying to create a fun, relevant and exciting meeting for the students, we must also make efforts to create a safe and appropriate environment. We need to be proactive here and create policies for our leaders so they know how to respond to the common disciplinary issues that usually arise in youth work.
Actions by students that result in disciplinary measures usually fall under 6 categories. See them below and their respective disciplinary measures. These areas are by no means a comprehensive list, but they are definitely areas which, if allowed to continue, could quickly detract from the mission of the Middle School ministry. Keep in mind, our policies are not wooden and we place a value on flexibility when appropriate.
One thing we want to make sure you understand is that all of our disciplinary action is coupled with personal one on one communication with the student(s) in question. We try to graciously show them how their behavior might be a reflection of their spiritual attitude. So, we try to connect their actions with their spiritual condition. For example, if someone is constantly being disruptive, we'll pull them aside afterwards and say something like, "So all this disruption really shows you probably don't have too much interest in the things of God." "What do you think about that?" "Maybe you're not familiar with what God is trying to do in your life...." "Maybe you don't understand how God is pursuing you at this time in your life." This whole idea of connecting bad behavior with their spiritual condition brings God in the picture and it gives us an incredible opportunity to confront their spiritual life and make a huge impact on them.
First of all, we are able to have a good time, joke, and have fun in our meetings; however, some students occasionally take it too far and wind up being disruptive during the meetings, causing distraction away from the Bible teaching. In theses cases, we generally follow some progressive disciplinary steps.
- Separate the disruptive students from their friends. Our leaders are to conduct the disruptive students to another seat, away from their friends.
- Even after being separated on any given week, if the student continues with the negative behavior, the student will be asked to leave the meeting and the adult leader will phone the parents/guardians to pick up them up early.
- If, when the student returns the next time, s/he continues the disruptive pattern, they will be asked to leave Blow Out for a week or two.
- If, when they come back and cause further disruption, we put them in our 4' x 4' room called, "the Hole, for 2 weeks." Just kidding. Seriously, if they can't get it together, they will be suspended indefinitely.
If a student has possession, we immediately report the incident to their parents and suspend them from Blow Out attendance for a period of time. In some cases, it may be necessary to call the police as well.
Many times students will want to leave the supervisory presence of adult leaders so they can smoke, couple off, or just roam the streets. We can't allow this kind of thing because because parents are trusting us to be responsible custodians of their child and we can't be responsible when they have left the premises. Therefore, students are not permitted to leave the premises during our meetings. We don't want the students getting hurt or in trouble nor do we want to attract a costly law suit. Again, if they do leave the premises, we have some progressive disciplinary steps. First, they are given a two week dismissal from the Blow Out meeting. If they offend again, they will not be permitted to attend the Blow Out for an indefinite period of time.
Arguing and contention is typical during this age and a certain amount should be tolerated. What should not be tolerated is when the fighting and contention begins to affect the overall unity & mission of the group. Even small pockets of division can have a major effect on the group, destroying the collective witness of the Body of Christ. When divisiveness occurs, it must be dealt with firmly, cautiously and with much prayer. Much of our divisions have been remedied by sitting both parties down and mediating the conflict. Resolution usually comes when both parties wind up genuinely owning some portion of problem and apologizing.
Would you send your child to a meeting knowing there's a good chance s/he will get assaulted? Not likely. Parents need to know they are leaving their child in a safe environment. To that end, we don't permit physical fighting in our meetings or events. To head this off, we let our students know the following:
- We don't permit physical fighting
- If they engage in physical fighting, they will be suspended from all of our Middle School programs for an indefinite period of time.
We must stand strong here and remember our purpose in having a Christ-centered meeting. Is it to allow students to find a place where they can have all their immediate gratifications satiated? Is it a social club? Is it just an extension of their school life? No. The purpose is to effectively share the gospel of Jesus Christ with Middle Schoolers and ground them in Biblical truth. We need to hold the line when students come with the selfish mentality wanting to couple off and cuddle up in a dark corner. Sorry, this isn't the place.
Our approach usually involves an adult leader finding the couple and explaining to them our policy and reasons. The couple is usually understanding and cooperative when we approach them with sensitivity and firmness. We've never really had the same students offend this issue more than once since the confrontation is embarrassing for them. We go easy with un-churched guests.
In addition, the Biblical view of sexuality is continually addressed during our Middle School meetings and it's stressed in our one on one time. We find that students are fairly receptive when they understand the reasoning behind God's views on this. We have some excellent resources on this topic. Let us know if you could use some help.