For many of these young people they are craving love, and time. They crave someone to spend time with them, to interact with them, to provide a safe place for them. In our local area there is very little for them to do, unless they travel into Brentwood, but the transport system doesn’t provide much in the evening.
The activities we run at the church are for many of these guys there only organised social activity outside of sport. This means that we have a big responsibility to help provide and be their community. At the moment some of that community is going through a tough time, we are having to call some hard decisions on young people who are really pushing boundaries.
What I can keep on trying to do is to discipline in a positive way. I am convinced that we need to stick to our boundaries and not lower our expectations of young people. Most importantly we have to avoid seeing the problem as the child or young person, but instead their inappropriate actions or behaviour.
I am beginning to appreciate more and more what Doug Fields wrote: ‘Discipline is like a root canal. It isn’t fun, but it is good for you. Both are simple but decisive procedures that keep decay from destroying a whole structure, whether it be a tooth, a person, or an entire ministry. Once done, the weak and painful is restored to a state of strength and usefulness.’
My hope is that we can move from this difficult week to develop the community in each of our groups, that they will become more aware of one another and develop deeper friendships.