Part of the challenge and also part of the fun of ministering at our Church In The Margins grace meal on Saturday nights is to be ready for whoever comes in the door. We have the space, the food and the fairly loose format of sharing the scriptures with a short teaching, discussion at dinner based on a question about where God is this week, and group prayer.
In recent months the Women's residential program with women coming out of incarceration that housed in a nearby apartment building has closed, and so a consistent source of our guests since the beginning of CITM is gone. Instead, we started getting a group of local teenaged boys coming.
Both Turk and I enjoyed the boys, but they were always high energy and impulsive. Sometimes their behavior caused problems, and some of the other guests lost patience with them. Sometimes we had to tell the boys to leave, and they did so disruptively. There were disrespectful; interactions with some of the adults there, with the unintended comedy of some adults who had been extremely disruptive in the past complaining about the kids' behavior. It got to the point where it wasn't a safe place for our guests, and so we decided that the boys couldn't continue as guests at CITM.
We haven't given up on them. They need the gospel, and despite their chaos, they kept coming back. They responded to the fatherly attention, freedom to be themselves and interest in them as people that they found at CITM. We realized that we can't be the ones who decide who gets to "be the church" or hear the gospel. We have kept praying for them, and we are going to provide a time and space for them at the cafe. Mid-afternoon on Saturdays, before CITM, we're going to have a youth hour or two, with opportunity to bang the drums, help cook some food and talk. Turk and I will be there, and we may talk to any men who are part of the cafe community who have interesting skills/hobbies, especially music, and who are interested in ministering to these young men. Pray for us and for them.