Jo and Nigel Pimlott
Many groups debate the best environments to engage with young people. Whether the choice is the church hall, a local community centre, out in the streets through detached work or in a school, different environments are likely to produce different behaviour from the young people. Changing environments can be one way of addressing behaviour issues, either through moving venue or by creating a different ‘feel’ to the venue through the use of décor, posters, furniture, lighting, layout and the like. A sense of ownership can be engendered her by involving young people in decisions and processes of design and decoration. Many visitors to the centre we work in are surprised by the lack of vandalism to the youth drop in interior, but we put this down to the fact that young people were involved in choosing colours, furniture layout and the painting and decorating of the venue.
It is worth mentioning that sometimes things go wrong because the enemy seeks to disrupt and cause problems. It is beyond the scope of this booklet to explore this fully, but the spiritual aspect of problems, whether reflected in an individual, group or project, cannot be underestimated. A prayerful approach to every aspect to every aspect of the work is essential. We have seen significant changes in behaviour occur through targeted prayer and it may be worth seeking to recruit specific prayer backing for groups or individuals where there are consistent ongoing problems. Most churches have numerous people within them who would not engage with face-to-face youth work, but are happy to pray regularly if given the appropriate information and feedback. A prayerful approach helps us to maintain a godly attitude to those who may be causing us significant stress in a particular context. It is important to remember that we are not primarily struggling against ‘flesh and blood’ but seeking to see the kingdom of God advance in our area. Whatever our theology on spiritual warfare, time spent considering a prayer strategy for the work will not be wasted.
From chapter 4 of Responding to Challenging Behaviour, published by Grove 2005