e-mailed in from a youth worker

I could use some help. Back in late May 2006, I had a teen, who is a regular, threaten another teen that he would “shoot him” if he didn’t leave his brother alone. The other teen is a regular and was angry at this guy’s brother, probably at the little brother’s instigation. I was not there at the time (isn’t that the way it goes?), so I just thought these guys needed to work out how to not get in each other’s faces. A few days later, I talked to the teen that was threatened. His mother let me know what the other guy said about shooting him. They were ready to go to another church. This was news for me, so when I confronted the teen about this, he didn’t deny saying it.

I told him that he did not need to come back (trying to explain that I’ve got to take him seriously). He said that he didn’t want to come back anyway. Well, to make the story shorter, he wants to come back. I have no idea in the world how to know if someone is ready to come back to church after saying “I’m gonna shoot you.”

What process other than some subjective “you just know,” is there? He is willing to apologize to the guy and to the church, but something tells me that doesn’t cut it for the sake of the safety of others. Anybody been there? Anybody know what they would do if they were? Grace and peace. Please pray for this guy before responding.

Well, what do you think, UYWI nation? Has this happened to you? What would you do?

4 Responses to “e-mailed in from a youth worker”

  1. Detra 10/17/2006 at 10:10 am #

    Well I think the first thing that we don’t want to do is push this young man back out into the streets, especially if he has a deisre to return to the youth ministry. I do, however, think that there needs to be a conversation with his parents (if they are memebers of the church) along with yourself and the pastor to discuss the serverity of this issue. I think he needs to understand that words can kill and that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouths speaks. You need to find out what’s really doing on with this young man. Why he felt the need to say he was going to shoot someone, as opposed to saying he was going to hit him or even beat him up. I am not sure if you have any type of mechanism in place where this young may can be placed on probation for a period of time before possibly participating in fun activities (just a thought).

    Furthermore, when we talk about apologizing, this young also needs to know that he should be asking for forgiveness not just saying “I’m sorry.” He also needs to know that in spite of the discipline he will get, that the ministry still loves and forgives him as Jesus does. My biggest concern is that if you decide not to let him back into the ministry, there may be some unresolved issues that could result in future problems. Win him over as Jesus did, with lots and lots of LOVE. If he trusts you or one of you youth leaders enough, you will be able to win him over.

    I pray that my suggestion has helped in some way. I will continue to keep you all in prayer as you get through this issue and other issues as they arise.

    Prayers & Blessings

  2. April 10/17/2006 at 11:00 am #

    What should you do? Do what God’s Word says you should do. God’s word has the solution to all of our problems. Look up scriptures on forgiveness and reconciliation. Yes, he should apoplogize to the other teen and his parents, and the church. In doing so he is taking sorry a step further. Evaluate the language and actions of the teen i.e. does he demonstrate to you that he is repentive? Does he recognize that he first comitted a sin against God? Why is he sorry? What does he want to say to the other teen besides I’m sorry. Remember only the “word of God” has the power to literally save lives 2 Tim 3:15 I will be praying with you for God’s wisdom on how to reconcile these families.
    God Bless.

  3. Jerry M. Laforteza 10/19/2006 at 10:15 am #

    No big deal. Just call the police. With that problem they need to be involved.
    We call that GRAVE THREAT and you should take that seriously. You are a church
    worker not a psychologist or criminalist. Don’t wait ’till it’s too late. I’ve worked
    with youth on parol and probation for the past years. I’ve also been attacked
    by kids a lot of times doing youth work.

    shalom
    JERRY.

  4. J-Lou 10/20/2006 at 8:42 am #

    Here is my best advice.

    I was talking with a person who volunteers as a gang mediator for the city of Pasadena and he suggested that an outside organization from the Tulsa community may be able to provide some outside support. The goal would be to allow this student to be connected back into the youth group and reconciliation to have taken place though the power of God.

    I would say a meeting with both moms, the kids, yourself and if possible an outside person that has professional training in understanding violent behavior in youth. This person and you may want to meet one on one with the student that made the threat first. This can help you get a read on the students behavior and state of mind.

    I would say during the meeting that you begin by reinforcing the goal and value of reconciliation in the body of Christ. Christ came to reconcile us to the Father, but also to each other. In Christ, there is no jew or gentile, male or female. We are all one in Christ.

    After both parents and students agree to move forward to reconciliation, I think you taking the students on a fun activity that has them work together is another great idea. Here is an article that Rudy Carrasco wrote about a situation similar that his colleague Derek Perkins experienced. It gives you a great illustration of two enemies can be reconciled.

    I was trying to look for programs in Tulsa that could be a resource. The only one that I found was The East Tulsa Prevention Coalition (ETPC). It dealt with a number of issues an may or not be a resource. You can always call the Police Station or talk to a school social workers about resources in this area as well.

    I tried to really think about it talked to a few people and I hope this has been a help.

    Peace.

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