Dealing With a team member who uses bad language around the children

Your Question:

“How do I deal with a CM team member who uses “bad language” around the kids?”

The Issues:

A team member who uses “bad language” (you or your church may need to specifically identify what “bad language” is) may be a good person with a bad habit.  If this is so, you will have to work with him/her to correct the bad habit. People usually don’t change until something they value is at risk.  If you tell the team member that you will have to remove him/her from the ministry if he/she uses bad language again, this may be the incentive needed to foster a change. Removing a team member is always challenging. Documentation and consultation with your leadership is always required.

Scripture Foundation:

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”  Ephesians 5:4

Short Answer:

Like other individual “quirks” that team members may have, the use of “bad language” may offend both children and parents. In children’s ministry, we must do all we can to remove anything that offends parents or children.  If something offends a parent or a child, you may see that family moving away to another church.  When this happens, you lose the opportunity to minister to them.  It is a good practice to work and pray hard about reducing potential “offensive” people or situations in the CM.  You may like and understand a team member who uses “bad language,” but others may be offended by him/her. Your ministry standards need to be consistent and clear.  Your CM policies and procedures should identify what “bad language” is, and what the consequences are for using “bad language” around the children.  This issue may be similar to a team member’s smoking or drinking.  You may not be able to control what team members do in their “free time,” but you can control what is done around the children. Using bad language is a lifestyle habit.  If a team member uses bad language every other day of the week, you may not be able to successfully prevent him/her from using it on Sunday (or during the midweek program).  This is something for which you need to seek God’s wisdom and discernment. Identifying what “bad language” is to the team member is the first step.  The second step is to ask him/her if he/she is willing to not use that language around the children.  If he/she resists this challenge, you may be forced to ask the team member to step away from the ministry.  If he/she is willing to work on the challenge, you need to express a clear warning that if he/she uses “bad language” again, you will have to ask him/her to leave the ministry.  If he/she is willing to take the challenge, make sure you check in with him/her before and after services to pray for and encourage him/her.  It might be that you are the first person to care enough about him/her to challenge him/her in this way! Make sure to document your conversations and keep your ministry supervisor or senior pastor informed about the situation.  For more help, click on the links below.

Click here to read more about how to deal with human nature in the “image of God.”

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