While I was the Lock-In the other night I noticed a kid come walking in who I knew was going to try to make trouble. I knew it, he knew it and the other leaders knew it, he was tagged. He was your typical "wanna be gangsta", he even had some bling on, and some cornrolls to go with it all. We get to the "Rally, program, session" (Whatever you want to call it) part of the night, and he sits in the back, the last row, typical. The youth pastor gets up, and this kid starts right away mocking him from the back. An adult leader comes over to him and says "hey, we don't want that stuff here, so stop or we will send you home".
I was sitting there and thinking, "really, you don't want his stuff here" and really what does that mean. Now, I think the adult was good intentioned, but I wonder if I need to re-think how I deal with kids like this, because this is exactly the kind of kid I want.
Here's what I did, I sat in the row (this church had pews, sweet) right in front of him and as I walked to my seat, I looked him right in the eye, enough to make him a little uncomfortable but enough for him to know I wasn't afraid or turned off by him.
Then the next time he made a smart comment, I joined him. I did, I laughed with him. Now, I made sure it wasn't really bad. Don't roll your eyes, I can see some of you. Here's the deal, I want to reach this kid, I want him to feel safe with me, so I let him know it through laughter. The next time, I said something too. Mine was a funny and loud and lot's of people heard it and laughed and the kid gave me this look like, "you are supposed to yell at me or tell me I am wrong, so what's the deal".
I didn't strike up a conversation, nothing. Just sat by him, and laughed with him. Craziest thing happened, when I got to talk, I looked back, and he got up from laying on the pew and he put his arms on the pew in front of him and leaned forward. He was listening. Wow, that was wild. Now, he didn't come forward for the altar call, actually, no one came forward, kind of awkward, but I will post about that another time. So, there you have it, good or bad, that's what I did.