When Lockdown began I started doing the weekly shop. Normally Hannah would do this. The first week I noticed I was spending less than Hannah normally would, I put this down to the fact that we had reserves in the freezer. The next week the same things happened again and the week after. I wondered if I was buying cheaper products, as would be my nature. No, it wasn’t that. Then we realised, it’s because we were not having youth visit our house multiple times a week.
Hannah and I run the Youth+. This is the church youth group for the year 11 upwards. The group meets at our house each Monday and we try to meet with our youth every week or so. This age is a very key time, not only is it exam time, but it is also when young people start making a lot of life choices.
A lot of our young people have grown up in stable, supportive christian homes and regularly attended churches. It is easy to assume that they will continue to follow God. However, this is not the case. Whether you have grown up in church or joined later in life each one needs to make an active decision to follow Jesus. This is not an easy decision to make and is often a process. Young people face the same choices and decisions to make, regardless of whether they are from a church or not.
Parents have a responsibility before God and have to give account for their children. However it takes a village to raise a child and God has placed us in a community. When a baby is welcomed into the church, we say that we will support the baby and their parents. This is part of the reasons that Hannah and I do what we do. It is a commitment to those in the community.
I find it exciting to see a people develop in to the being that God designed them to be; to walk alongside them through the challenges of life and se God break through different areas of their life.
Growing up can be quite challenging and no matter how stable your family, young people respond differently to people outside of their family. If the relationship is strong enough, they will be more likely to hear something an outsider says, than that of a family member. These relationships can also offer a place of reflection on life as a whole. They allow young people to see that they have someone else on their side, in what can be a lonely time. As a parent I would prefer someone from the church inputting into my child, rather than them receiving input from one of their school peers, or the internet.
The key is having a good relationship. This can happen quickly, or may take time. Either way it requires investment. We build relationships with the young people by spending time with them. We share our lives with them, rather than entertain them.
If you invite a work colleague over for dinner, you will tidy up, cook a special meal and be on your best behaviour. This does not show your real life. But when we have young people visit us they will be a part of what we are doing. They will help us cook, tidy up, deal with the children; they will see us at our best and our worst. They see that we are human and are able to be a part of us, rather than just visitors.
This allows young people a place to be themselves and show the good and bad. Because everybody eats, dinner is a great activity to involve young people in. In Lockdown we have needed to develop different methods of engaging with our young people and have been unable to have them over for dinner.
That is why our shopping now costs less.