Bullying, How Does Your Ministry Approach It?

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I know Survivor (spoiler alert) isn’t the most relevant show right now; however, there are some pretty interesting things happening on it this season.  One story that has gotten my attention is the one of a young man named Cochran.  To put it lightly he is the least popular of his tribe, picked on, ridiculed and often scapegoated when a challenge is lost.  In last night’s episode he retaliated by betraying his tribe and flipping sides.  You can empathize with his reaction because he had been bullied and pushed to his limits; however, what really grabbed my interest was the moral dilemma one of his tribe mates.  A woman named Dawn describes to the viewer how she was torn that she didn’t stand up for Cochran.  She also knew that Cochran was going to flip sides; however, instead of joining his actions she decides it’s better to stay quiet to the tribe while convincing Cochran to stay loyal; yet, speak his grievances in a different way.  While bullying is wrong it’s impact can create a lot of confusion.

This episode was definitely good television; however, it got me thinking about how we prepare teens to stand up for the weak, persecuted and forgotten?  Again, it’s wrong; however, our teens might find themselves like Dawn where they are choosing between the loyalty of friends and fighting for what’s right.  If we are going to prepare our teens to take a stance against bullying our ministry should encompass that in how it’s atmosphere and environments.  And if it does, it should look like this:
  1. Safe; Yet, Challenging Environment – You need your ministry to be a place where all are loved; however, our goal is to produce disciples.  A disciple is dangerous because they have the ability to create drastic change.  Challenging your students with love means setting big goals; yet, picking them up when they fail.
  2. Tangible Opportunities To Practice – One of the best ways to fight injustices like bullying is through service.  When we are in an environment where we are forced to serve and interact with people different than us, walls will be broken.  One of the best ways to build solidarity is through exposure.  In your ministry create opportunities when teens can learn to love a neighbor who is different from them.
  3. Top Down Integrity – I like to joke around; however, like anyone I can take it too far.  If you like to joke around there will be lines crossed, and if you don’t want to deal with consequences, be cognizant of your behavior.  If you feel like that’s too hard to handle, then clean it up.  After all you are the leader and there are many impressionable minds following you.
I write this post knowing full well that I do not do a great job with this subject.  I’m writing this post as a reminder to bring this to my student’s and leader’s attention consistently.  I’m tired of seeing the bullying go on and the poor teens losing self esteem because it’s being taken from them.  If you aren’t preaching about bullying to your students you mind be ignoring one of the greatest demons a teen faces.  So evaluate your ministry and behavior and ask yourself, “Am I living out these three steps?”

On a scale of 1 (not a lot) to 10 (constantly), how high often do you make anti-bullying a priority in your ministry?

Join the discussion No Comments

  • CJ says:

    An important topic, Chris- and so tied in to racism, sexism and prejudice in general. A topic we must address, and more importantly a tolerance we must model. Good stuff.

  • Brian Kirk says:

    Important topic. We spent several Sundays discussing it last year. I’d say we we place it at at 10 on our priorities.

  • CJ, Brian thanks for your input, I think it’s a tough subject to address because it can be so broad in how and where it’s done. For those of you who have talked about bullying with your students, where do you tend to start?