SAFETY FIRST! Here’s a brief review of an exceptionally well done and readable resource:

Jack Crabtree, Better Safe Than Sued: Keeping Your Students and Ministry Alive. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.

Crabtree’s book is one huge case study of liability in youth ministry. In each chapter he shares actual events that illustrate the area about which we need to be concerned for the safety of the kids and the integrity of our ministry.

He writes, “You probably weren’t selected to be youth ministry leader because you had a reputation for being safety conscious. You were selected because kids like you or because you know how to have a good time while communicating the gospel. But everyone connected with your youth ministry is quietly counting on you to run a safe program and take care of their kids.” (29) Learn this lesson now. Seldom will anyone discuss safety with you – until something goes wrong and someone gets hurt. Unfortunately learning your lesson then won’t get a kid out of a wheelchair or bring someone back from the grave.” (30)

Did that get your attention? I think it should.

His intention isn’t to make us paranoid. His intention is to make us prepared. Why? – Because the parents, the congregation, the students, and the insurance carrier all have a stake in your competency. Here’s a list of just a few of the chapter titles:

Carelessness Kills

Buses, Vans, and Automobiles

Sexual Misconduct

Camps, Retreats, and Conferences

Most Accidents Happen at Home

When the Worst Happens

I can relate to the stories he tells, having been involved in a situation that could have been tragic, but fortunately wasn’t (Thank you Lord, for your gift of protective Angels!).

The book comes equipped with a CD that contains sample forms that you can download, along with an evaluation tool with the title “How Safe Is Your Youth Ministry?”

I highly recommend this resource for your use. It’s available on Amazon, and the Kindle edition is $7.00.

Dr. John Oberdeck was a parish pastor in Southern Illinois for ten years, and served on the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in the Practical Department for thirteen years before coming to CUW in 2002, most recently serving as the Director of Lay Ministry. He retired in June 2017. He and his wife, Ginny, have three grown children and seven growing grandchildren.

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