The following post was written by Jeff Pratt, Director of FUGE Camps
Several years ago I received a call from a good friend that was serving on the personnel ministry team at his church. He told me that they had just lost their youth minister and was wondering if I was available to serve in an interim role. I was familiar with the church and knew that it would be a great place to serve. As I began talking with the team they began to share with me where they had been in the last 6 months. It started with a parent/youth minister altercation that happened in the parking lot of the church as they arrived back from camp. The police were called and needless to say it was a mess. That was followed two months later by the tragic suicide of a member of the youth group who had just graduated. That was followed by the departure of the student minister who had served the student ministry faithfully for 12 years. Any one of those would be tough to deal with, but all three on top of each other created a bit of a challenge and a sizable crisis that needed to be worked through.
In part one of Dealing With a Crisis in Your Student Ministry we looked at several areas to think about as you prepare to work through a crisis. We will wrap it up with several other ideas to help you as you lead through what can be difficult times.
Don’t Be The Expert
One of the worst things we can do in crisis is attempt to speak or lead as the expert when we have no formal training in a given area. If you are wired like most of us are that are in ministry, you are a fixer. You want to jump into a situation and fix it instead of walking through it with wisdom. A crisis will challenge you because your heart will want to fix it, but you need to let your head lead you through it. Remember you can and should speak authoritatively where the Scripture speaks. Allow the Scripture to guide your involvement as the leader. Where the Scripture speaks to hurt, provide hope. But understand that when it comes to dealing with something like suicide or sexual abuse, you will need professionals to help you that are specifically trained in those areas.
Don’t Move Too Fast…Or Too Slow
The last thing that I would encourage you to consider is your timing. This is very difficult because it can become a no-win situation. If you speak too soon then it looks like you are not sympathetic to the situation. If you wait and speak too late then it looks like you do not care or you do not want to deal with difficult issues! I told you this part would be tough. Let me give you a couple of suggestions on timing. First, as soon as you find out about a crisis in your ministry, share it with your pastor. Your pastor does not need to find out about a crisis in your ministry from a second hand source. Second, ask your pastor to help you create a communication plan and timeline. Regardless of your efforts someone will feel like you didn’t handle it right. You cannot help that, but you can avoid creating more chaos by asking your pastor for help. Third, and most important, make sure you are praying through your approach. We cannot do this on our own, and the wisdom will come when we hit our knees.