by Jacob Fasig
One of the most important core values in youth ministry is about expectations. In fact the youth ministry in which you serve will only be as deep, as committed, and as faithful as your expectations. If your expectations are only that people show up, that’s as far as they will go. If you don’t expect youth to bring their Bible, they never will. The same goes for volunteers.
I had a crazy idea once—okay, maybe more than once, but this particular idea came only once. I had the crazy thought that if I had volunteers who were teaching, leading, and pouring their lives into the lives of youth, they better have some expectations placed on them by the church. Not in a way that tells them what they should or should not do, but in a way that says, as Christians, we are to model their faith and stay connected to God. If you are going to be in the lives of youth, you must stay grounded, and here are some ways that will help and are basic steps that we expect of you as spiritual mentors to youth.
Expectations are not “must dos for Christians,” or “the only way to live out your faith,” they are minimal things that we require if you are to work with our youth. Everyone does it! If you are a leader, youth, or adult, you must commit to the expectations of the ministry. It’s that simple with us! Our expectations are three things:

  1. We expect you to submit yourself for a background check. Legally that keeps us insured and aware of any past problem that we could be exposing God’s youth too. I acknowledge that this doesn’t keep all the “bad” people out, but it’s a good and safe thing to do.
  2. We expect you to attend our “safe sanctuary” training, which is an appropriateness class the helps adults know how to be safe when dealing with youth as well as for them to know what is appropriate and inappropriate to do with youth. As far as policy goes, remember that it is better for you to not have a policy than to have one and not follow it.
  3. We expect you to enter into covenant with myself and all the other leads in the ministry. This covenant outlines personal life expectations. For example:

Small Group Leader (SGL) Expectations:

  1. Reading your Bible a minimum of five times each week
  2. Call each member of your small group each week
  3. Pray for your small group every day
  4. Give one week’s notice on any and all absence
  5. Fill out your feedback sheets each week before you leave
  6. Practice Moral Excellence (2 Peter 1:3-11)
  7. Attend Quarterly Training Events
  8. Bring your Bible to everything
  9. Attend the SGL Meeting each week

For us, fulfilling these expectations are non-negotiable to help out in our ministry. If there is resistance, it raises a big red flag for me. It makes me feel that they are hiding something or are not spiritually mature enough to lead our youth.
What has happened in our ministry is that we have found that our expectations and accountability have attracted people to the ministry. Our people have seemed desperate for a place that makes them be accountable to their connection with God, and it is vital to our growth as a youth ministry.
Jacob Fasig is a veteran youth minister who currently works for McKendree UMC.  He is married to Allison and they have two daughters, Zoe and Eve.