Boundaries With Kids Protects
Both Minister And Kids

Defining any kind of boundaries with kids is to put in place generational boundaries where it is clear to all that the minister is an adult and the kid is ... well, a kid.

Ministers cross generational boundaries in two ways...

  • ...First when they induct a child into an adult sexualized relationship as often happens in abusive Christian youth ministry.
  • ...Second, when they become 'younger' being 'cool' and 'relevant' by talking, acting and dressing like youths.
In either case, the results can be disastrous.

For example...what you do you make of...

Father Juan's reversed baseball cap

Father Juan was a 29 year old pastor who put much time and effort into youth ministry. He could be seen 'shooting hoops' with the boys in the school yard nearly every day.

What's wrong with that? You may ask. And the answer would be nothing, unless you had additional information.

  • Father Juan wore a baseball cap in reverse and cut off jeans hanging halfway down his backside...just like the other kids.
  • He used the same slangy dialect as the others including sexual references
  • He was a member of the team, he was not coaching it or helping marginalized boys to join in.
Father Juan was unmindful some of the boys were uncomfortable being around him under such circumstances.

Three of the boys thought Father Juan was sexually suggestive with them by the language he used (their language) and complained to their parents.

As a result, Father Juan was removed from ministry and sent to a treatment center for evaluation.


The first thing the evaluation revealed was that Father Juan's whole sexual history had been heterosexual and age-appropriate in its orientation. He had never had problems in boundaries with kids before. And certainly not sexual boundaries. He asserted, credibly judging by his history, that he was not interested sexually in boys or men.

He was, he said, only trying to establish rapport with the parish youths.

An evaluation of his work history prior to entering the seminary revealed that he had difficulty keeping the various low-income jobs he held.

This suggested that he was too socially immature to assume the responsibilities of a pastor.

Giving a person leadership, management and public relations responsibilities for which he has no skill and no preparation is a recipe for disaster.

In this case, the disaster came about because Father Juan was unschooled in the necessity for generational boundaries with kids, whether a parent is trying to raise them, a teacher is trying to educate them or a minister is trying to bring them closer to God.

You can go from boundaries with kids to Christian youth ministry.

Or you can...



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