Finding Value in Student Handbooks

School Culture

Over the years we’ve discovered the necessity of a handbook for our students. A handbook sets the tone for schools, sets expectations, and walks students through what school is going to be like. You can’t expect students to follow rules and culture if they don’t know what the rules and culture are, and as you come across various situations, having a handbook creates a minimum level of understanding for both students and school leaders.

Handbook Content

Because the student handbook is meant to set expectations for the year, we cover many different topics. Below, we are going to go through most of the topics and share a little bit about why we have this in the handbook and the content in this section.

Vision, Mission, & Statement of Faith

This section outlines why we do what we do. Our vision and mission is to bring heaven to earth, and we do that not only through signs, wonders, and miracles, but by living out a life exemplified by Christ.

Bethel’s Core Values

This section lists out, defines, and sets the expectations of Bethel’s core values. We want our students to know what success in our culture looks like, and often it is living out these core values. We give our students the freedom to live out the core values as they feel the Lord has guided them, but we also give examples of what we do and do not believe about each core value in Dann Farrelly’s book, Kingdom Culture: Living the Values that Disciple Nations.

Revivalist Lifestyle

At the end of the year, we want our students to graduate knowing what a revivalist lifestyle is and how to live it out. We outline our beliefs of what a revivalist lifestyle looks like so our students know what is expected of them. They see our definition of a revivalist (below) in many different places so they are reminded of what we believe a revivalist is. 

REVIVALIST: (n) a believer who is focused and passionate, willing to pay any price to live in community, purity, and power because they are loved by God, whose manifest presence transforms lives and cultures.

Academic Life

We expect our students to turn their homework in on time, as well as be in class and arrive on time, and to do their homework with honor. This section outlines our expectations for our students in these areas, and what may happen if they do not fulfill these expectations. 

If a student is late to class more than the three allotted times, they will receive an absence. This is clearly stated in their handbook, so they will not be surprised when they find an absence on their attendance records. Additionally, we have clearly outlined what will happen if they exceed their allotted absences, if they break the few rules we have, and how we manage these situations.

Ministry Training

When we minister to others, we want to connect them to the Father and have the best experience possible. In this section, we outline how long students have to wait to join the ministry team, what kind of training they will need in order to be approved for the ministry team, and guidelines for being on the ministry team (such as praying with the opposite sex, ministering in love and kindness, praying with your eyes open, being addiction free, etc.)

Course Syllabus

Because BSSM First Year spends two to three sessions a week on Bible lessons, our students can earn credits through certain universities. These course syllabi fulfill the requirements on our end so our students can receive those college credits. They are basic syllabi that outline the various Bible topics that are covered throughout the year.

RGPs & Third Years

Our school would not be successful without our Revival Group Pastors (RGPs) and Third Years. The RGPs and Third Year students mentor the First and Second Year students throughout the year. This section outlines the expectations of the relationship between RGPs/Third Years and their students. Some students come in with the expectation that they will have constant access to their mentors, but because of the demands on our staff and Third Year students, this isn’t always the case. We always want to under promise and over deliver to our students and set up realistic expectations.

Staff Contact & Staff Bios

This section is an overview of how to get in touch with various BSSM staff members and their bios. It helps our students get to know our staff a little better.

Weekly Schedule

Like any new experience, understanding the weekly schedule can be difficult. We use this section to give exact days and times for our classes. This is so when a student is late, they can’t give us the excuse that they didn’t know what time class started. We want to give them ample information and prepare them as much as possible to avoid any problems in the future.

We also include major holidays and days when we know the location or times of our class will be different. We try as best as we can to honor our students’ time and give them as much of a notice as possible. We send out weekly emails with any schedule changes and important information the students might need to know for the week.

Connection Groups

This section outlines the different types of connection groups students will participate in. These include Revival Group, Small Group, and Core Groups. We also give students days and times these groups will meet throughout the year. For instance, Revival Groups and Small Groups meet every week, whereas Core Groups meet once every one to two months.

Advanced Ministry Trainings

Advanced Ministry Trainings (or AMTs), are electives our students can take each trimester. This section describes what AMTs are, the schedule, and the times the classes are offered. AMTs are an important part of BSSM because they provide additional training our students can’t get in the main session, and all students must take AMTs.

City Service (a.k.a., Outreach)

City Service is a vital part of BSSM. Every student is expected to serve the city of Redding in one way or another. We provide dozens of options for our students to serve Redding and surrounding cities, as well as a few out of town options or online options. Again, this section outlines what we expect from our students while they attend City Service. These expectations provide an outline for student behavior as well as what we will provide for them. 

International Students

This section covers the needs and expectations of our international students, from visas to connection groups, to banking, and more. We try to serve our international students as best as we can.

Event Volunteer Guidelines

At Bethel, we hold over 50 conferences in a single year, and for many of these conferences we ask our students to volunteer as part of the ministry team. This section gives students guidelines on how to serve during a conference and be part of the ministry team, as well as sets up our expectations that they serve the local church in this capacity.

Facilities & Vehicles, Facility Maps

Because we have over 2500 students, parking can become a little tricky. Students are encouraged to carpool and are allowed to park in designated areas. This section is an overview of parking expectations, as well as expectations for facility uses and various campus maps. We expect our students to take care of our campuses.

We also have sections covering the following areas:

  • Missions
  • Other Scheduled Items
  • Ministry Team & Travel
  • Prayer
  • Communication

Again, these sections create the framework for students as well as logistics for these areas of BSSM. 

As your school begins to expand its influence, creating a student handbook will be important to set the tone and expectations of your school culture. When students know what is expected of them, everyone has a marker to refer to when expectations are not met (or when expectations are met beyond expectations). We want our students to be set up for success, and sometimes that looks like giving them a list of dos and don’ts, ways we expect them to conduct themselves as kingdom-minded believers, and how we will respond if they don’t follow our guidelines. We pray that this resource will help your students be successful in your school!

You can download a copy of a previous BSSM First Year Handbook here. We ask that you use this handbook only as a reference, and not copy it directly for your own school.

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