Creating a Safe Place

CRISIS – Part 1

The Youth Pastor and the volunteers that give of their time to work alongside teenagers are invaluable to the local church! While working within a ministry that you love and are called to is rewarding it does not negate the times of difficulty. It is only a matter of time before you encounter a student in crisis. The ministry you enjoy and the students you love can at any time be a heavy burden because of what is at stake with that student who is in crisis. I will come alongside you these next several weeks and give you gentle guidance as you lead the hurting student from crisis to a contagious faith in Christ.

C – Create a Safe Place

R- Reassurance

I – Invite others into the process

S – Share with others only when the student is present

I – Initiate conversation other than the problem

S – Solid understanding of the Gospel

Creating that safe place for students is as different as each student you minister to. Some can feel safe very quickly and others take more time. Knowing the students and understanding how they are wired is important. However, their opening up to you is their signal that they feel safe with you. The hurting individual decides when they feel safe and we cannot make that decision for them.

Nurture that safety with your undivided attention and open ended questions. When a student has stepped out and decided to allow you into their private pain it is a courageous act and you cannot be distracted. In fact, you can’t afford to be distracted because that student has believed something about you that now motivates them to open up. Turn off your cell phone. Talk privately away from the group and be an active listener. If it is best you take notes so you can remember what you are hearing that usually is not offensive.

An active listener will not interrupt and will ask open ended questions for clearer understanding. Any question beginning with: how, when, where, what, will you please tell me more about…, or Can you help me understand what you mean… These open ended questions keep the conversation moving in a direction that will bring clarity to you and an outlet for the student.

The safe place you are creating is never an actual place. The safe place is you! Your attentiveness to him or her is what calms. Just as the hospital facility never brings the hope of healing, it is the attention of the doctors that settle anxiety and begin to give the solutions to the problem. It is the same with those of us that work in ministry. It is not programs or sermon series or music that creates the safety. The student needs YOU! Your time, Your attention, Your attentive ear, your seeking to understand, your tears, your compassion, and your praying over them and with them is what is needed to create a safe place that over time can be a part of their story of healing.

Joy McHale

Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters