We live in a world where touch is a “touchy” subject. Honestly, I know that’s a pun, but it is. In youth ministry we have to be sooooooo uber careful because we don’t want anything to be misconstrued as a sexual advance. It is difficult when many youth workers have been sued because of inappropriate conduct. Now, I am sure there are a fair amount of those that are legit, but I have to imagine that there are also plenty that are either misunderstandings or cries for help and attention.
So, this topic is a difficult one to approach.
I want to talk to you today about a 5 Touch Experience.
Before I dive into the topic at hand, I do want to continue with some warnings. Recommendations if you will.
Recommendation #1. DON’T drive a student of the opposite sex home alone. Even if they are the same sex you have to be careful. A youth pastor friend of mine recently shared that he had taken a student home whose parents would not take him to youth group. During one of the rides home the boy asked if he could tell the youth pastor something. It turns out that he shared with him that he was attracted to him! This is a tough world. Youth ministry is not easy. No one ever said it would be. IF you are taking someone home, call the parents to let them know how long you will be, call your spouse and then take more than one student with you.
Recommendation #2. Don’t counsel the opposite sex. If at all possible have someone of the opposite sex with you or even better, have them do the counseling.
Recommendation #3. Don’t let extended length hugs go on with opposite or same sex students. There has been a trend over the last several years where guys hug for a long time and even “snuggle.” This can easily lead to problems.
That all being said, I think that many students are missing out on a lot of appropriate affection from adults. A former student of mine didn’t understand that the way another adult was holding him was inappropriate because he never was hugged by his dad. I think that happens too often.
So, I introduce to you the 5 touch experience.
Imagine if every student was “touched” 5 times every time they show up at your ministry. Let me explain.
1) High five/knuckles as they walk in to the building of your meeting room. A simple touch.
2) Handshake – “Good to see you.” Super easy and not invasive.
3) High five/or knuckles as they walk into the meeting room. As you open the doors have someone standing at the door giving out high fives as they enter.
4) Side hug by someone they know. “Glad you are here.” There is plenty of discussion in the youth ministry world whether or not front hugs are appropriate. To be safe, stick with the side hug. It may be a little awkward, but it is pretty safe.
5) Hand on shoulder as they are prayed for.
These are very simple ways to do some appropriate touches. Students need it. We all do.