I love working with young people: it is challenging, lively, fun, annoying, frustrating and filled with joy. Each time something bad happens, the young people pull it out and I know why the Gospel is right there in their midst.
I have always had an excellent relationship with parents. They are overwhelmingly pleased that someone in this community takes an interest in their kids and relieved that they have somewhere safe to be on a friday night.
As a part of my quest to build a new and better quality Community Hall in this area, I need to understand how people use the current hall. I have a little questionnaire, which you can download and fill in from here (there might be a packet of Fairtrade Cookies in it for you!) and when I handed them around, each person I gave them to, at no matter what meeting they had come to the hall for responding with a smile, and took it off me (usually with a joke) and even if they had no intention of completing it, they took one.
Except one person. As I came up to his car, smiled and proferred the questionnaire, he took one glance at me and shook his head. I tried to engage him, he turned away to look elsewhere, putting his phone to his ear. He refused to even wind down his car window. Now, I could have shrugged this off, but it did strike me as a bit rude, so I walked round to the drivers side to find out what his problem was.
“Don’t want to.”
“It’s only a couple of questions…”
“But I put myself out each Friday for your children, this is the only Youth Club in Elson and…”
“Well, I’ll make sure he doesn’t come again then.”
Now one of my wise churchwardens suggested that literacy might have been an issue, but he was using his phone okay, so that might be the charitable view. Most people if they aren’t interested, just take the form and rip it up, but to be so rude…
The latent aggression in his response, his oppositional attitude to (such a nice guy like) me just left me flabbergasted. Thing is, I really like his son: a good lad with good values and a nice manner. Clearly he has achieved this without the aid of a male role model.
And then, as if to prove my point about the point of youthwork I have a conversation with a bunch of young people on the street corner. They called me over as I was passing and we talked for about five minutes on all sorts of stuff. It shows what a difference we are making in this community and what this Church is here for. If it means having to take that from the odd rude parent, then that’s okay, because at the end of it, it’s about the young people.