I read recently where several black ministers were considering visiting troubled black youth and gang members. I first want to applaud them for wanting to get involved. However, having worked with the state of Georgia at the Youth Development Center, I want to ask the ministers to get together and talk about an agenda.
My point is that these young men think they are grown, so I hope the ministers will allow the young men to accept them instead of the ministers trying to impose themselves on the youths.
I also ask that the ministers be aware of the "dress down" idea -- that is, no fancy jewelry or $1,500 Hickey Freeman suits; instead, perhaps an open-collar shirt. In other words, casual attire. This way, the youth will not be so much interested in what is worn, and they can focus on why the ministers are there.
Last, but not least, ministers should remember that these kids know about God, but they have chosen to do other things they think are more important. They should acknowledge these kids' parents in a positive way by saying things such as "Your parents worked hard," and "By you doing what you are doing, it is causing them great shame when people whisper and say 'Ms. So-and-So's son is a gang member.' "
Before departing, ministers should ask the questions: "By meeting with you today, did we accomplish anything? We are planning on making these type meetings a regular occasion. What are your thoughts, guys? Do you want to meet again?" Then ask one of them to conduct the parting prayer.