Sometimes there is an expectation that youth need to act a certain way or be a certain way before they can participate in a particular group setting. This can be at school, church, after-school programs, etc. However, when we begin with this attitude, we have created a space that is only concerned with behavior modification, and not making room for transformation of hearts and minds.
At Antioch, we believe that our time together with youth should be the safest space for kids to make mistakes and learn from them.
The alternatvie can lead to creating a shame-based environment where mistakes are punished, rather than disciplined. By disciplined, we mean that there is a practice that takes place that helps our youth see what it is that needs to be corrected so that they themselves will make the right decisions as time goes on. This isn’t for some reward or for some false praise, but because they have tasted and seen that there is something better through this process of practicing the right thing and turning away from the wrong they’ve acted on.
Our youth are encouraged to take a couple of minutes to themselves when they aren’t meeting our agreed upon expectations. They use this time, sometimes with the help of an adult, to determine if they can re-engage and contribute to the group, rather than causing negative conflict. This is the time where minds are renewed and transformed.
In Galatians 5, we see what a transformed heart and mind looks like when Paul identifies desires of the flesh that are not good for an individual or a community. But he doesn’t stop there, because he then points towards the Fruit of the Spirit, which is something so much sweeter and the place where the transformed heart resides.
In order for this transformation to take place, the safest place for confession of sin or for mistakes to be made, should be the Church, or a place like Antioch. Jesus is ready and waiting for all of us to turn towards Him when mistakes are made, wrongs are done, or sinful attitudes are prevailing. He loves us that much, to walk with us in our weaknesses, and transform us into gift-sharing, mission-driven, loving people.