This is a guest post from Robert Martinez, the Pastor of Student Ministries at East Side Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. You can follow Robert on twitter.
Ah yes, the awesomeness of summer student ministry brings with it many life-changing decisions, mind blowing events, summer camp memories, and of course the unfortunate reality of immodesty! Here are a few thoughts that have helped me in the area of implementing dress standards for summer youth ministry.
1. Start by “informing” your core students. (Those who are spiritually mature.)
Surely you have times when you are training your young people in the area of Biblical principles to live by, right? If you are not, then start! Inform them, and by all means don’t be afraid of standards! Our young people will be surrounded by standards for the rest of their lives. They will have standards in the work place, marriage, and life in general. Don’t short-change your students. In fact, show them that the Bible is our ultimate standard for life!
I think the fear a lot of student ministers have is the fear of losing their students. Pastor Paul Chappell said this in regard to young people, “…when we fear the risk of losing them, we condemn them to spiritual infancy.” I am not going to be the one to hinder my students, so I inform them a lot, even on hot topics like modesty. I started with those who are already practicing modesty and trained them to approach the matter with grace.
By the way, it is truly a heart issue, but how are young people going to get their heart right if we don’t inform them in the first place? Set your students up for success by informing your core! (Hebrews 10:24, 2 Peter 1:3)
2. Teach your core students to be pro-active when promoting your events.
In other words, let them be the informers to those whom they are inviting way ahead of time. Think about it for a minute: when a student invites a friend to a wedding, is it not natural for one to ask, “What am I going to wear?” How about when a student invites a friend to a youth group ski trip?
Consider this: we are in Memphis, Tennessee, and the majority of our public school students are already used to abiding by dress codes anyway. They know what “dress code” means.
What ever happened to giving people the heads up? Perhaps we should stop tiptoeing around certain issues and just man-up and inform people. Now I realize that there will be those casual individuals who show up without notice, but here is my thought on that: wouldn’t it be easier to address a few (if needed) than your whole un-informed student group?
Again, I teach my students to address any issue in life with grace, but by all means I teach them to pro-active about it way ahead of time. (John 1:14)
3. Avoid events that make provision for the flesh in the first place!
The truth is that our students enjoy tons of opportunities to kick back, have fun, party, go crazy, and “drive their youth leaders nuts” throughout the whole year. Why go to the beach, pool party, or waterpark when the “message” presented (immodesty, sensuality, lust, etc.) at those locations contradicts your overall message of true godliness, holiness, righteousness, and worldly separation? Perhaps we are guilty of a double standard at times, or even worse making provision for our own flesh?
Some say, “Well they are eventually going to grow up and have to learn to reach their culture anyway and so why not teach them how to deal with it in a Christian context?” My 5 year old son has never smoked a cigarette, taken a drink of beer, looked at pornography, had sex, nor played Russian roulette. Do you think I should let him to do all these things in a “Christian context” in order for him to know how to deal with and reach his culture for Christ? (Romans 13:14)
Inform your core students, teach them to be pro-active when promoting, and by all means avoid making provision for your students flesh!
QUESTION: Do you hold dress standards for your teens during the summer? If so, what are they and how do you ensure that those boundaries are respected?
Robert Martinez is the Pastor of Student Ministries at East Side Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. He is burdened for his current generation of young people and seeks to “change the statistics” among the ever growing number of young people leaving the faith. You can follow Robert on twitter.
Posted on May 31, 2012