Guidelines for youth pastors texting students

Youth pastors texting teenagersSeveral weeks ago a youth worker sent me a link to this article, “What Should Your Ministry Know about Youth Texting Exposures?” He asked for my opinion of it and if I have anything in place regarding leader-to-student texting. It seemed to make sense to him to have something in place, but he wasn’t sure if the approach in this article was overboard or not.

As a general rule of thumb, I don’t let my ministry be crippled by the fear of what could happen. I take prudent precautions, of course, but there’s a limit where you’ll soon have no contact with kids at all and they start to feel like you’re afraid of them.

I text my kids. I usually only text girls to ask a quick question, but I don’t have on-going discussions with them even they initiate the text conversation. I’ll gladly reply and answer questions, but I don’t prolong the smalltalk (and infrequent), “So how was your day?” texts from girls. I’d rather see that conversation take place with a female youth leader.

As far as guys are concerned, I’ve never had a need to place guidelines on those conversations yet. I’m sure there are some teenage guys out there that would require a youth leader to lay down some restrictions, though.

My advice: Do what you feel is right for your ministry rather than crippling your ministry with the fear of what could happen, but be prudent and wise at the same time.

If your ministry requires some accountability in your texting with students, consider using I’ve used them for years and absolutely love their service! One of their features, called Message Stream, allows you to send individual text messages to people. When your recipient responds, it goes through TxtSignal’s service and is then (optionally) forwarded to your phone. When you reply, it again goes through TxtSignal and is then delivered to the recipient’s phone. If you take advantage of this feature, it allows TxtSignal to keep a record of your conversation with these specific people. If there’s ever a question about your texting with a student in the future, you can go back and check the original transcripts.

Question: What guidelines, if any, do you have for texting students? Share with all of us how your ministry handles this in the comments below.

Posted on August 2, 2010

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