When you observe students in their own undiluted elements what do you look for? What type of elements stick out? A week ago I went to the movies with some friends and we ended up going to a different theater than I normally go to. As we were waiting for the theater to let us in (we arrived early) we hung out in the courtyard. My people watching skills kicked in and I started to observe people. This is what I noticed:
- The types of students hanging out at this theater were predominately Hispanic and African American. I am always interested in cultural boundaries in cities. This observation proved to me that this area might have high concentration of these people groups. This could prove to be an awesome opportunity to define and articulate a plan to reach these kids with the love of Christ, while being intentional of who they are.
- The types of students hanging out at this theater had a rough edge. As compared to the theater i normally go to which is predominately staffed by middle to upper-class Caucasians students who would wet themselves if they ever got in to a fight, these students looked like they were looking for someone (or something) to start something. Again this proved useful in making contact with them.
These observations might offend someone…race always seems to do that. However, I want to be clear from an ethnographers point of view these types of observations are crucial to understanding youth culture. As I mentioned in previous posts, observation is extremely important if we are to be effective.
To better understand those we are to minister to, we need to understand how they view life. The worldview of students is a extremely complicated concept. If we begin to understand their perspective on life we can effectively minister to them. By that I mean we would be able to understand their hurts, hang-ups, and baggage. We as youth workers can love students, but to go further and understand what makes them individually unique requires a relational, intentional and passionate heart for youth that goes beyond just saying “I love students.” We need to get our hands dirty!
What do you see?