Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What the Central Coast needs

The Central Coast has been in the SMH a bunch of times in the last 2 days: here (pics) on old and young alike wasting time at Erina Fair (see my post here); here on transport; here on gangs; here on a local teenage model; and more here (pics) on Friday nights at Erina Fair.

The article: Bored and isolated teenagers run wild, brought me to tears this morning. Here's a snippet:
Beyond the narrow band of wealth clinging to the coast, where the beach provides a source of entertainment, young people say they have little to do. At worst, these teenagers pass their time drinking, taking drugs and having sex. Children say they start using alcohol at 12 and many have lost their virginity by 13.
Quite often we have teenagers too young to go to clubs, too old to watch cartoons, too poor to go to the movies who walk through/past our youth group venue (not fair from Erina Fair) on a Friday night. We've had numerous eggs thrown at us, we've had significant fights outside on the oval, we've had beer bottles thrown, we've had drunken kids wander into our events, we've had 10 year old boys show their head in the door yell out "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" laugh and then run off... to name a few! (That's not to mention the naked 16 year old Thugby League team that ran through our Junior Youth Church service on the beach last year!)

The exciting thing is that we've had significant conversations with quite a number of these guys (and never had anyone from youth group harmed in any way - it's good to have large male leaders!) and even had them return the following week (sober) to find out more about Jesus. The great tragedy is that these bored teenagers, looking for something to occupy their time, don't realise that youth group and Jesus is where the real action is at!!!

A few months ago I posted some thoughts on what Central Coast teenagers are after:
  • Teenagers want to fit in
  • Teenagers want to be where the action is
They don't know what they're doing... they don't know what they're missing... Central Coast teenagers don't need better public transport, they don't need more services, they don't need more refuge beds, they don't need an education in how to use a condom, they don't need to learn where they ought to safely deposit their used syringes, they don't need to learn safe drinking habits, they don't need more skate parks, they don't need cheaper movie tickets... THEY NEED JESUS!! JESUS IS WHERE THE REAL ACTION IS AT! THEY NEED TO HEAR ABOUT THE REAL LIFE THAT THEY CAN HAVE IN JESUS. JESUS LOVES THEM. JESUS DIED AND ROSE FOR THEM. THEY NEED JESUS TO GIVE THEM A HEART TRANSPLANT!!

There are idiots who claim to be youth ministry gurus who say it is stupid to run youth group on a Friday night. My guess is that one of the reasons they have small youth groups is because all of their "Christian" family kids are getting sloshed, stoned and sexed with their mates from school on a Friday night and are still too hung over to be able to turn up to church on the Sunday!

CCECYOUTH Leaders - keep doing what you're doing! Your labours aren't in vain (1 Cor 15:58)
CCECYOUTH Teenagers - you are legends! Keep praying for your friends!

Is it time for e(mo)vangelism (here and here)?
How do we reach this hope-less culture with the hope of the gospel?
How can we run youth groups that aren't dumb and boring - but keep showing people the real deal JESUS?

HERE is the testimony of one guy who no longer does stupid things on a Friday night. Pray for more!
Are you a Central Coast Teenager? Go find out about Jesus here... come to simplyJESUS... come to ccecyouth... be where the REAL action is!


Tim Roediger said...

Thanks for your post Dave.

It made me think

It made me pray

In many ways Nowra is the same, but with less money and no beach.

David said...

it made me pray

good response.

i pray for your work in nowra.

there's a bunch of people who have commented on my blog on this post - there's some good stuff there.

Poess said...

Its a hard one isnt it, becasue youth more than others, due to all of the things they are going through, are more pack hunters.
They are more likely, I think, to be happy in bigger groups where they can be 'lost' to some degree.
Smaller churches therefore have some sort of difficulties, due to resources etc, leaving them with 'dumb' things and 'activities'.
What we really need is relationally competent leaders who love kids and care for what is happening in their lives, more than that, I am still thinking!

David said...

Its a hard one isnt it, becasue youth more than others, due to all of the things they are going through, are more pack hunters.

absolutely! girls can't even go to the toilet by themselves!

What we really need is relationally competent leaders who love kids and care for what is happening in their lives

good call. key equation. leaders that love God + like kids = good youth ministry.

its' difficult to become relationally competent when lots of leaders only do youth ministry f a short time... they start to get good at it... then stop!

Poess said...

And then there are just other people who arent relationally competent. Many people have to learn the skill of talking about others, rather than talking about themselves.
Kids feel loved when they are listened to, and many leaders believe that what they have to say, or what they have done is what these kids need to hear.
The truth is, in our individualistic society, we need to get a good dose of humility and allow ourselves, opinions and agendas come second to listening to, caring for, and taking an interest in these kids, in doing so we will create disciples who hear what we say, and see the interest we have in them as a microchasm of the interest Jesus has for them.
This is a tough skill though, especially for those of us who are fully engrained in individualist thought since birth, and I'm guessing its gonna get harder.
Pray for more leaders like this!!