I remember watching the Columbine tragedy happen in real time on television. I was the youth pastor then at North Dunedin Baptist Church. I have been involved in youth ministry this whole time since, and I wonder how much impact we have made on the lives of young people since Columbine.

The victims who lost their lives in Columbine, and even the people who took their lives, have changed the way I minister and act towards others.

Unfortunately, there will always be those who are seen as “fringe” kids. Violence will always be around. But ever since Columbine, I have thought a lot and made a conscious effort to look for those who society sometimes overlooks. You never know how something as simple as a smile or a, “How are you?” will help someone.

There are basically four things that, I think, when done right, will have an impact on the lives of those who feel rejected by society.

  1. Look for them – Sometimes it’s not so easy to identify these people. We spend a lot of time ministering to the people who respond. What are we doing to look for those who are not at every single event?
  2. Listen to them – I believe everyone has something important to say. We must listen to these young people, even if they aren’t the most popular or the easiest to get something out of. But if we really listen, they might just open up to us.
  3. Take them seriously – When they tell you something that sounds strange or different, take them seriously. Don’t blow them off. They are capable of big things.
  4. Be persistent – They will reject you. But don’t give up. It takes time for a young person to grant you access to their life.

What about you? What are you doing to reach out to those who feel un-loved? How can we do that better as the church? Post your thoughts in the comments.

(Image by: Dave Blume on Flickr)