Student Ministry Handbook

“Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1

“We believe it is sinful to bore kids with the gospel. Christ is the strongest, grandest, most attractive personality to ever grace
the earth. But a careless messenger with the wrong method can reduce all this magnificence to the level of boredom…It is a
crime to bore anyone with the gospel.”
Jim Rayburn (Founder of Young Life)

“We aren’t called to be successful; we are called to be faithful.”
Mother Theresa

“When we depend upon organizations, we get what organizations can do.
When we depend upon education, we get what education can do.
When we depend upon man, we get what man can do.
But when we depend upon prayer, we get what God can do.”
A. C. Dixon

“…The dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,
if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all,
only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal.”
C. S. Lewis

Important Numbers

Church security: 811 from any church phone

Alameda County Sheriff: (510) 667-7721
Child Protective services: (510) 259-1800
Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE

20600 John Drive, Castro Valley, CA, 94546
(510) 537-4690

3crosses CHURCH History

In March of 1937, 3crosses Church started with a congregation of just 3 people in East Oakland with Rev. Earl D. Sexauer. The first services were held in a converted storefront building at 64th Avenue and MacArthur Blvd. Immediately the church began growing. This necessitated the building of a new building which sat 175 in July of the same year. The Port O’Call building was added in 1946 to reach out to the servicemen during the time of World War II. Here the crowds of young people heard the gospel at Saturday night gatherings. Hundreds accepted Christ as their Savior.

The congregation soon outgrew the facilities and moved to 84th and MacArthur Blvd. This new building, seating 1000 people, was completed and dedicated to the service of the Lord on August 8, 1948. Dr. Jacob M. Bellig, began his ministry as senior pastor in May of 1954 and continued to move the church forward with an emphasis on evangelism and discipleship.

In 1960, the 15 acres of land we currently meet at was purchased and construction began. On the first Sunday of December 1969, the first worship service was held in this new facility. The Sanctuary where worship services are held seats over 1500 people. In addition to its large seating capacity, there is a full stage, including a fly gallery for scenery drops and two hydraulic platforms to aid in our church’s emphasis on musical dramas. A gymnasium, Port O’Call, educational facility, chapel, and adult center were constructed as well. The ministry at
Neighborhood Church is not buildings, but people! The buildings are only the necessary tools with which to reach people for Jesus Christ.

A major priority and passion of 3crosses has always been youth. In 1978, a youth building was constructed with the vision of reaching the students in our community. Pastor Larry Vold joined the staff of 3crosses in 1980, working with student

In 1996, Larry Vold became the third senior pastor in the life of 3crosses, envisioning our future ministry through the lens of God’s vision birthed in our church’s past. Our vision for our church has always been toward outreach, and we seek to keep evangelism and discipleship as our main focus. We want to reach people for Jesus Christ and in turn, disciple them to reach others for him!

Church Purpose and Process


Everything we do points people to following Jesus—this is where life transformation takes place.

How we see that purpose happening is the three-fold process: WORSHIP, COMMUNITY, SERVICE & EVANGELISM 

By Worship, we mean attending church & cultivating a lifestyle of surrendering everything in our lives to God.
By Community, we mean belonging to others in meaningful relationships—loving & caring for each other.
By Service, we mean that each person is uniquely gifted by God to serve in advancing His purpose of life transformation in
the Church, our community, & world.

By Evangelism we mean sharing the hope and joy you have in a life of following Christ. WE BELIEVE that the One True God -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- calling people to follow Him within the community of faith (the Church) in order to change the world for His glory.



Every youth group is a little different. Here are the 5 things that make us “us” and the things we believe will be the ingredients
for our success. As a leader, we need YOU to be on board with these values and help us keep moving in the right direction.


1. PREACH THE GOSPEL. We value presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ relevantly, biblically, and persuasively
through the power of the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill Christ’s great commission. The Church must always be reaching lost
people with the gospel.

How am I reaching lost students with the gospel?

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:10


2. INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS. The most important life change happens in the context of relationships. Crazy trips,
laughter, games are perfect ways to bond with anyone, especially youth. Take advantage of these opportunities to begin or
strengthen relationships with students. This is why we do the crazy things we do! Be consistently present during our gatherings
and be consistently present in our students’ lives. Our students are craving for loving and loyal leaders in their lives, which
many do not have at home. Consistency is a soft-spoken secret to a powerful ministry. Our hope is to make every student feel
known and cared for
. Engage in meaningful relationships with our students.

With whom am I engaging in relationships?

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
I Corinthians 11:1


3. INSTIGATE FUN. For many students, God and fun are opposites that you must choose between. However, the
Christian life is the most joyful life! It is an all-out celebration every time we come together and we are going to have a ton of
fun. A positive, joyful, flexible, “can-do,” encouraging attitude is vital to our ministry.

Do students enjoy being around me?

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10


4. ATTEMPT CREATIVITY. We value the utilization of those talents that reflect the creativity of God. Musical worship,
games, preaching, trips, core groups, etc. should all be executed in an engaging and creative manner. We want everyone to
use their unique God-given gifts to push the limits of everything we do.

How can I make this better?

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
Ecclesiastes 9:10

5. PRAY. We value unleashing the power of God. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. We must humbly rely on God to
allow positive eternal fruit to blossom from our ministry. Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God
who gives the growth (I Cor. 3:7). If we only rely on our own creativity, fun, knowledge, etc. we will get what man can do. If
we rely on prayer, we get what God can do. God loves to bless his people, and even more, He loves to do it in answer to

For what or whom am I praying for today?

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.
Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16

Leader Expectations

The motto of Student Ministry volunteers is “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1
Corinthians 11:1) You modeling the type of person we want our students to be is THE most important thing
you can do as a leader. Read your Bible. Pray. Be involved in worship and community. Experience Gods
transformation in YOUR life as you follow Christ.
There is no way we can lead students to places we’ve never been. In order to lead, we have to be
following Christ ourselves. Specifically, we expect our leaders to:

1. Embody our distinguishing values: Gospel, Relationships, Fun, Creativity, and Prayer.
2. Meet the qualifications of a deacon in I Timothy 3:8-11 à
3. Enjoy a consistent, life-changing quiet time.
4. Consistently attend one of our Sunday services, and be involved in a community.
5. Live a life of sexual purity & don’t be mastered by lust. (Ephesians 5:3)
6. Think twice about the pictures you post. (NO alcohol pics please, even after you leave).
7. Have filled out a Leader Application and passed a background check.

It doesn’t matter how awesome of a leader you are if you aren’t involved in what’s going on! Signing up to
work in Student Ministry is a hefty commitment, so make sure you’re up to the challenge! There is always
understanding for working around busy schedules, but it would help in a big way if you could:

8. Be present at Omega gatherings on time. If you have to miss, let us know so we can find someone
to cover for you!
9. Disciple one student a year.
10. Coordinate one small group event in the fall and one in the spring.
11. Recruit new great volunteers.

In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:8-11

Omega Overview

EVERY WEEK we have two gatherings: WEDNESDAY night & SUNDAY morning.

Wednesday night is the front door of our high school ministry, and we focus on having great worship and preaching
followed by small group conversations lead by Omega Leaders. For most leaders, Wednesday night consists of arriving at
6:30 to hang out with students in the café or gym. When Omega starts at 7:00, Omega Leaders help funnel students into the
Port for the night and then model what it means to worship and listen to preaching. After worship and the message, small
leaders are responsible for facilitating small group discussion with the group they are assigned to.

Sunday morning is training time. On Sunday mornings we spend most of the time teaching on topics that are
necessary for students to mature in their faith. We do normally have students sit around tables instead of in rows in order to
encourage conversations before and after the lesson, but the majority of the time is spent in a lecture format.

THROUGHOUT THE YEAR we have a few events that are important for leaders to be aware of:

• Hume Lake Summer Camp

Summer camp is one of the most important events of the year. Each year God uses the time away at camp to speak
to students and transform their lives in exciting ways. Normally camp happens in the middle of July, and Leader
attendance is encouraged but dependent of how many students come to camp (i.e. We’d like for all the counselors to
come, but we don’t always have enough counselor spots to take them).

• Disneyland Weekend

In the middle of November, Student Ministries (middle school, high school, and college) takes a weekend trip to
Disneyland. We drive down Friday, sleep at a church in Fullerton, spend all day at Disneyland on Saturday, and drive
back home early Sunday morning. It’s a long but fun weekend!

• Hume Lake Winter Camp

Winter camp is a smaller engagement (normally around 40 students attend), and as such normally only a few Leaders
attend. Winter camp falls on Presidents Day weekend in February

• Counselor Retreat

At some point in the year, the Omega staff likes to get away and spend some time together planning and praying for



The time before Omega is SO IMPORTANT for first impressions. Having leaders present and ready to engage with
students is essential for an awesome night. For some students, how they feel about Jesus will depend in some degree on
whether or not they feel welcomed to Omega. Let’s do our best to welcome students by making sure we:

  • Show up as close to 6:30 as possible.
  • Wear a “Student Ministries Leader” badge and a smile!
  • Check to see if help is needed with check-ins.
  • Find and connect with students in the Gym or Café.


When the program begins, Omega leaders have the difficult job of helping a room full of high schoolers engage in
worship and listen to preaching. The two tools best suited to help students engage and listen are MODELING and


  • Sit with the students. Disperse yourselves amongst the crowd.
  • Only one Leader should be standing in the back.
  • Sing the songs and listen to the preaching. Show students by your example that you value worship and preaching. Students will not value what you do not value.
  • Lovingly correct the students that are causing distractions.
    • Never EVER be rude or harsh with students. They are here for a reason, and we will not give them a reason to turn their back on the church. Even if we discipline them, it will be done graciously with an aim at restoration.
    • Feel free to ask students to leave the room if they refuse to listen. Bring them to the kitchen and give their parent a call to pick them up.


Omega’s small groups are organized by grade and gender (i.e. 9th grade guys small group). Each small group should have
two leaders. The leaders’ responsibility during this time is to lead the small group in talking about the message and
developing community amongst the group.

  • Be listening for what God was speaking to you in the message.
  • Show the students that God is working in your life. Be appropriately vulnerable with the group.
  • Use the small group questions when provided/helpful.
  • Use this time to get to know the students and their lives.
  • Pray.
  • Try not to allow small groups to go past 9:00pm

8:45 - 9:15 PARTY

After small groups are done, send students back to the port. Normally we’ll have some type of snack served as well as
some music bumping. If we are not in the Port, we are probably in the Gym

  • Stay with your group. Leverage every minute to establish relationships. Some of the best conversations happen after small group!
  • Help cleanup.


One of the most personal and impactful things you can do in a student’s life is one-on-one discipleship
through the Unpacked Booklet. This is what the students remember years from now. This 6-week study is a very simple
discipleship program that even our 6th graders can understand and apply. You will dive into Scripture to help the student gain
a better understanding of the Gospel, Prayer, the Bible, Sin & Temptation, the Church, and Discipleship.
It would be wise to familiarize yourself with the discipleship booklet on your own before you have your first meeting.
Feel free to extend your Discipleship an extra week to give yourself an intro week to get to know each other better and
discuss what you will be embarking on. Never disciple anyone one-on-one of the opposite gender. James will supply you with
2 discipleship booklets when you are ready.


Pray for the student God wants you to disciple.
Explain what discipleship is and ask the student if they would like to be discipled by you.
If yes, meet & ask the student’s parents if they have your permission to do so.
Set up a consistent time & place you and the student can meet once a week for the next 6 weeks.
Ask Amy for 2 discipleship booklets when you are ready (1 for you & 1 for your student).
Get familiar with the booklet before you meet.


Complete a chapter a week.
Be consistent each week. Discipleship loses steam when a week is missed.
Hold them accountable to finishing the Homework & the Memory Verse each week.
Pray for your student daily.


Keep the meaningful relationship going!
Keep encouraging them to come on Thursdays and Sundays to continue growing in their faith.
Pray about the next student to disciple!

*For other further discipleship materials, consider using Jesus Unpacked Booklet or a Right Now video curriculum.



If an injury needs ice or minor first aid, take care of it. The first aid kit and the ice machine are located in between the
kitchens. Do not allow a crowd of students or leaders to gather around the injured student.

Do not attempt to move the patient if it appears they have a neck or back injury or severe trauma of any kind. Call 911 and
notify the pastor.
The pastor will contact the parents.
If you are the first to arrive upon an emergency scene, it is important to remain calm, call 911, notify the pastor, and stay at
the scene until someone of higher authority arrives. Once appropriate personnel are on the scene, your primary responsibility
must shift to crowd control. Keep students as far away from situation as possible.

We must take this seriously. 9 out of 10 times, they really are around or were already picked up by their parent, but there
always is that other 10%. Use the following guidelines to determine if a student is missing:

1) Where were they last seen, and at what time?
2) Who do they normally hang out with?
3) Could they simply be lost in the crowd?

a. Send leaders out to scan the crowd
b. Make an announcement

4) Have leaders check obvious places where they might be (Bathroom, Parking Lot, Upper Room, etc).5) What is their temperament?

a. Are they likely to wander off?
b. Did they have a tough day?
c. Would they have a motivation to sneak off?
d. Do they NOT want to be found?


1) Ryan or Charles needs to be notified and they will contact their parent to see if the student is with them.


1) Call Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and report the missing child — (510) 667-7721.
2) Use available leaders to initiate a wider search.

Take a proactive role in the event of an unknown person (outside of the middle school age group).
The best way to approach a stranger in the Port, Gym, or surrounding area is to simply ask, “How can I help you?”
The Port, Gym, and surrounding area during our gathering time is exclusively for our middle school students.
Please refer a parent to the pastor if they want to stay and see our facilities.
The only people allowed in our area are leaders with background checks, students, and a parent if they have been
introduced and cleared by the pastor.

If the alarm sounds, gather the students around you and calmly exit out of the closest, safest exit. Walk the students to the
crosses and wait here with them until further instruction.


Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your
ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and
unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.

Common signs that a teenager is depressed and not just sad: 1) They don’t want to do the things they used to love to do. 2)
They start using alcohol or drugs or hanging with a bad crowd. 3) They stop going to classes and afterschool activities. 4)
They talk about being bad, ugly, stupid, or worthless. 5) They start talking about death or suicide.

Tips for talking to a depressed teenager:

Offer Support: Let depressed teenagers know that you’re there for them, fully and unconditionally. Hold back from asking a lot
of questions (teenagers don’t like to feel patronized or crowded), but make it clear that you’re ready and willing to provide
whatever support they need.

Be gentle but persistent: Don’t give up if your student shuts you out at first. Talking about depression can be very tough for
teens. Be respectful of your student’s comfort level while still emphasizing your concern and willingness to listen.

Listen without lecturing: Resist any urge to criticize or pass judgment once your student begins to talk. The important thing is
that your student is communicating. Avoid offering unsolicited advice or ultimatums as well.

Validate Feelings: Don’t try to talk teens out of their depression, even if their feelings or concerns appear silly or irrational to
you. Simply acknowledge the pain and sadness they are feeling. If you don’t, they will feel like you don’t take their emotions

The first step to take when working with a student who you feel is depressed is to contact the student’s parent. It is
recommended that the student gets seen by their primary care doctor to get a full physical. The doctor will be able to rule out
if the depression is something less extreme. Then the doctor can handle it from there.

The next step would be to connect the student to one of the counseling resources listed above.


Eating Disorders

Getting help for an eating disorder can be very complicated. Medical insurance could or could not cover it as a health
disorder. So you should encourage the child to be seen by their primary care doctor. You are not allowed to refer people to
clinics but if someone asks if any are out there, you can let parents know about the Center for Discovery if they feel their child
needs professional help for their eating disorder.

Center For Discovery is located in Menlo Park California. It is one of the few eating disorder clinics in the bay area.

To contact the center you can call: 1-800-760-3934 or visit their website at:


If you suspect that a student has been abused in some way, we are “mandated reporters” and are therefore required to
report abuse to Child Protective Services. Abuse is categorized in four ways: emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and
physical abuse.


Neglect typically is seen in the younger aged children (elementary age). Key questions you will want to ask include: Do they
have an immediate need for medical attention? What is their quality of life? What are the physical conditions of the home?
Be sure to have the young person describe the specifics of their home situation. Signs of neglect include, but not limited to,
begging or stealing food/money, lacks needed medical/dental care/glasses, is consistently dirty and has severe body odor,
abuses alcohol or drugs, states that there is no one home to take care of them.


This one is somewhat difficult to quantify, yet as its name implies, someone may not necessarily be beating their children, yet
they may be using their words as weapons. As you interview the child, be sure to have specific details of times, places, and
words spoken. Signs of emotional abuse include showing extremes in behavior from overly compliant to extremely demanding,
extreme passivity to aggression, inappropriately adult or inappropriately infantile (frequent rocking or head-banging, for
example), delayed physical/emotional development, attempted suicide.


The first thing to find out is if there are any visible significant injuries on the young person. CPS recommends that we call in
any claims of physical abuse, even if they seem bogus. One of the first things CPS will want to know is if the young person is
in any kind of immediate danger. Signs of physical abuse includes, but not limited to unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken
bones or black eyes, has fading bruises or other marks noticeable, seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when
it is time to go home, shrinks at the approach of adults, reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver.


According to the law, any kind of sex under the age of 18, consensual or not, is considered illegal sex. This said, they will
probably not take any kind of action on consensual sex unless it involves someone 14 or under. Signs of sexual abuse includes,
but not limited to difficulty walking or sitting, refuses to participate in physical activities, reports nightmares/bed-wetting,
experiences a sudden change in appetite, demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior,
becomes pregnant or an STD, particularly if under age 14, runs away, reports sexual abuse by a parent of another adult

Concerning rape, be sure to find out if this has been disclosed to anyone else. Have any legal authorities been called?
Reporting is essential in this case. If it was a very recent rape, call in the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department immediately to
have a deputy interview the victim.

As you interview the student, be sure to collect as much information as possible in a loving and sensitive way. Understand that
just because we make a report doesn’t necessarily mean that a social worker will show up at their doorstep. CPS is extremely
interested in the safety of the young person and will do everything it can to ensure his/her safety. If ever in doubt, make the
call. Before you make the call however, be sure to have all your information lined up correctly. They are going to ask for
every bit of information possible, from each of the parent’s names, ages, and addresses to information on siblings, specific
times and places of incidents, etc. Be specific, yet concise. Our church’s database can provide information you may be
lacking. Contact James, Charles, or Erica for help with this.

If the abuse was committed by the student’s parent, it is not recommended that you contact that parent, but instead deal
directly with the authorities. Be extremely cautious during the interview phase not to involve too many people, as it can turn
into an interrogation rather than an interview.


How to make a SUSPECTED ABUSE Report

• Before reporting, always tell the pastor first so that they are involved and know what is going on. They will help you in the situation.

• You are not allowed to report second party. What this means is, if a child tells you about the abuse, you need to call CPS, you cannot tell someone else and have them call for you.

• A phone call must be made to Protective Services within 24 hours of you hearing about the suspected abuse — (510) 259-1800.

• Before you make the call however, be sure to have all your information lined up correctly. They are going to ask for every bit of information possible, from each of the parent’s names, ages, and addresses to information on siblings, specific times and places of incidents, etc. A pastor or Amy can help you with this.

• If you ever have any doubt about whether to report an abuse, talk to the pastor and give them a broad picture of the situation, and ask their advice on whether it is reportable or not.

• If any kind of physical or sexual abuse took place on church property, we will be making a call to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department immediately — (510) 667-7721. This could include, but is not limited to: one student physically assaulting another, rape, a 5150 (danger to yourself and others), molestation, etc.

Cutting / Self-Harm

Self-Harm is the deliberate mutilation of the body or a part of the body, not with the intent to commit suicide but as a way of managing emotions that seem too painful for words to express.

Ways that people self-mutilate are burning and cutting (knives, glass, razor blades, self-made weapons).

Self-Mutilators often times will hide the weapons in their purse, pockets, wallets, socks, and hair. They often will have the devise on them at all times.

Some reasons why people self-mutilate —1) Lack of verbal self-expression, so physically express themselves instead, 2) Emotional pain is turned into physical pain (easier to deal with), 3) Decreases tension, which has built up inside of them, 4) Punishment on themselves.

Generally speaking people who cut themselves often times have learned from someone else. Chances are they know someone who does it too. Maybe a family member, a good friend, or they saw it on TV.

For people who self-mutilate is it best for them to go see a professional counselor because they have some other deep routed issue that needs to be talked out and worked on by a professional. See sources in the counseling section and contact one of them.

You can recommend to the child that they should try writing in a journal and expressing themselves on paper or in some other healthy outlet instead of by cutting their arm, leg, stomach etc. It can also be helpful if they enjoy drawing or any other form of written expression.

It can also be helpful to do a no self-harm contract, which is similar to a suicide contract and can be found in the Suicide Help section. This allows the person who is self-harming themselves to be accountable to what they are doing and shows that someone cares about them. Most importantly make sure you follow up with that person to see how they are doing.

Suicide Help

Warning signs of Suicide:

• Ideation (thinking, talking or wishing about suicide)
• Substance use or abuse (increased use or change in substance)
• Purposelessness (no sense of purpose or belonging)
• Anger
• Trapped (feeling like there is no way out)
• Hopelessness (there is nothing to live for, no hope or optimism)
• Withdrawal (from family, friends, work, school, activities, hobbies)
• Anxiety (restlessness, irritability, agitation)
• Recklessness (high risk-taking behavior)
• Mood disturbance (dramatic changes in mood)
• Talking about suicide.
• Looking for ways to die (Internet searches for how to commit suicide, looking for guns, pills etc.)
• Statements about hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness.
• Preoccupation with death.
• Suddenly happier, calmer.
• Loss of interest in things one cares about.
• Visiting or calling people one cares about.
• Making arrangements; setting one's affairs in order.
• Giving things away, such as prized possessions.

If someone tells you that they are going to kill themselves one of the first things you do is ask them if they have a plan. If they
have a plan (a way to do it and when they are going to do it) then most likely they have thought about it and are very serious
about it. Either way, take them seriously. Then you write a contract.

One of the first things that a person can do when another person expresses a desire to kill themselves is they can make a
contract (example on next page) with the person. Writing down that a person promises not to kill himself or herself and having
both parties sign the contract helps keep the suicidal person accountable. This helps them feel as if someone cares about them.
It seems like it won’t work, and it does not always but it has been known to help stop a person from killing themselves. After
writing and signing the contract it is important that the person gets immediate help.

It is most important if the person seems very suicidal to NOT EVER leave them alone, and to remove all items from them that
they could use to kill themselves. It is also important that you contact their parent or guardian and let their parent or guardian
know as soon as possible and call 911.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE