Keeping Youth Ministry Safe - Tips and Resources

The Don’t Panic! workshop sponsored by WAYnet, the New Westminster Anglican Youth Network, took place last month. We spent the afternoon brainstorming, sharing resources, and learning ways to properly assess risk when planning events and activities. At right is some of what we came up with.

Tips for Youth Leaders

  • Two leaders is better than one, especially with kids
  • If you’re a youth leader and only one youth shows up for an event, go to a public place to hang out–after getting permission from parents
  • Have a back-up:  someone you can call in emergencies
  • Never put yourself in a situation where the ratio is one leader to one youth—gender doesn’t matter!
  • Ask about your parish insurance policy
  • Obtain a permission slip for each child whenever leaving church grounds
  • Document incidents: write down significant things that happen in your ministry, keep a journal of how things go
  • Keep parents well-informed of what your ministry is up to: send home letters, calendars
  • Evaluate the risk: know your role and boundaries
  • Trust your intuition
  • Remember:  your job is not to eliminate the risk but to manage the risk

 Resources for Youth Leaders


Youth services make church meaningful

Five years ago, I had the chance to attend a youth service at a parish in Washington State. Walking up to the building, I felt excited to engage with this new way of “doing church” and wondered how the congregation would react to youth interpreting scriptures and writing prayers.

Unfortunately, I was mistaken in my perception of what “youth service” meant: the youth were there, passing out bulletins, greeting parishioners, and taking the collection, but that was pretty much it. The kids sat in the pews, for the most part looking zoned out and bored while the adults did the “important” stuff.

Fast forward to two years ago: I’m the Youth Ministry Coordinator at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, and the clergy tell me that I need to get ready to help the kids plan the youth-led service.

But this time, the youth aren’t just showing folks to their seats and passing around the collection plates: they’re doing it all. The sermon, the readings, the intercessory prayers, and the administration of the bread is all done by the youth.

In November, we hosted our fourth youth-led service. I watched the kids stand a little taller while they read their sermons. I thought, why aren’t all churches doing this?

This one day where the kids take over the church has a profound effect on their sense of belonging in our Christian community. “We’re not bored, for once,” says one 13-year old boy.

“We get to decide what we want to do, instead of just sitting there taking it in.” By reflecting on scriptures, writing intercessory prayers, and administering bread, the youth become familiar with the “church thing,” and even the Sundays when they’re not in charge, it becomes more meaningful.

The youth aren’t the only ones who benefit from their ownership over an occasional Sunday. At the most recent Christ Church Cathedral youth-led service, a woman approached me afterwards.

“I usually work on Sundays,” she said, “but I took today off so that I could be here. These services mean so much to me—I’m always so deeply moved by what the young people do.” As the youth shake hands with people after the service, they get similar reactions to their work.

“Everyone always says they love the service,” beams one teenage girl, “and we always see a lot of smiles as people leave. I really like the positive influence it has on parishioners.”

Youth reporters wanted!

We’re looking to build a team of youth who will research youth groups, attend youth events, gather photos, and submit any “youth-related news” to TOPIC!  This is a great opportunity to get experience in journalism.  Your voice needs to be heard!  If you think you’d like to be a Youth Reporter, please contact Samantha Cawker at or call her at 604-682-3848 ext. 24.