Here’s a little training piece I wrote for our life group leaders. Each situation can be different and call for a different response, but I believe the ones listed are super important as you support students during the time they need you the most.
- INVOLVE PARENTS RIGHT AWAY
Be up front with students and let them know that their parents will need to be involved. Let the student know that you have the responsibility to make someone else aware of the situation. As a small group leader you can never agree to “never tell anyone what I am about to tell you.” Our first option is to always try and coach the student to tell their parents, but be firm in letting them know that either way their parents must know. Offer to do it together if need be, but it must be done.
We are not professionals. So if you feel for any reason that a student needs professional help, talk with their parents. If you do not feel comfortable talking with the parents you can call the Student Ministry office. We will help you figure out a plan.
- BE PATIENT -1 Thessalonians4:15
There will be times when the student that is getting help will relapse. The fact that you have spent so much time with them praying and talking can easily make you take their relapse personally and get upset. Be patient. Especially, if the student comes and tells you, don’t waste that opportunity to model Christ’s love to them.
- PRAY CONTINUALLY -1Thessalonians 5:17
Prayer should always be your first response. God has incredible plans for your students, and He wants you to be apart of it. We must stay in communication with Him. Connect with Him for the words to say and the steps to take, as you support students.
- LISTEN WELL AND ASK QUESTIONS – James 1:19
Students that are going through crisis need you to do these two things more than anything else. I know it’s so tempting to give them advice because you’ve been where they are or you know the solution to the problem. Taking the time to intently listen and ask questions says a lot. You never know, you could be the only adult in their life who listens to them intentionally.
- REMEMBER ONLY GOD CAN CHANGE THE HEART – Philippians 1:6
You are here because you like students and want God to do something awesome in their lives. God is going to use you. We must remember that even though God uses us, He is the only one that can change hearts. So don’t carry the burden of this situation, thinking that you are the one that will change your students’ heart. God is faithful, He will fulfill His promise and complete the work that He has used you to begin.
Know that you are not serving alone – You can call on us and we will help out in any way we can.
WHAT TO DO IF A STUDENT IS IN DANGER
1.ASSES THE DANGER
These situations are never easy to handle, and we want to help you through it. Our team can help you decide if this situation is, indeed, one in which a report to authorities must be made and discuss further action with you. Even if you aren’t sure this is “big enough” to warrant reporting to the authorities, let us know what’s going on so we can pray for you and help you lead your student back toward health.
Who to contact from your staff:
2.Report to the Authorities
You are a MANDATED REPORTER which means you must REPORT known or suspected instances of CHILD ABUSE to the authorities. You do not have to check with us first. Legal action can be taken against you if you don’t. We are definitely here for you if you are not sure and want to talk with someone about the situation. Also, we are not mandated to report self-harm unless it is life threatening.
3.Follow Further Instructions
The church team will instruct you on what steps, if any, need to be taken from here. Most likely, your role in the reporting of the situation will be complete at this point, it would be rare for your involvement to be required beyond the initial report. Continue to pray for the situation and that it will be resolved quickly.
hope it helps