Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What to do what to do

So it's 12:40am, and I'm still reflecting on something that happened at church tonight. Every Tuesday at church we have ultimate frisbee from 9-11pm. We use these frisbees with two different colors of glow bands. We have music, lights, drinks, and pizza. Usually about 80 kids show up, if you want to see some pics check out

The cool thing about "Ultimate Tuesdays" is that probably 80% of the kids that come don't attend our church.

I don't say all that just to "brag" but rather so that you better understand what took place. So at 11pm we shut it down and kids parents are picking them up or kids are driving themselves home. We have a substantial amount of equipment to carry in, not to mention emptying trash and picking up spare Gatorade bottles and what not, so there's plenty to do. If there were only 2 or 3 of us cleaning up it would take more than an hour. Luckily we've got great volunteers who stay to help clean up even though they'd rather go home and sleep!

But tonight something abnormal happened. There were about 20 kids or so who stayed after. So we were like, "Sweet! More help!" It's always a little awkward when you ask people to help clean up, so like the cheesy youth dork that I am, I say something like: "Hey guys, I know a fun game we can us clean up this junk! Who wants to play!?!?!" The crowd of kids just stands there looking at me. So I stick out the speaker wire I was holding and say to one of them- "Here man, you can play, it's easy!" He just looks at me and says, "Nah, thats ok." He was on his cell phone.

So here you have a group of kids literally standing there having just enjoyed the fruits of our labor- listened to music, ate pizza, drank Gatorade, played frisbee; and now they're actually in the way of people cleaning up, but not really taking the suttle invitation to help pitch in.

Like I said, I don't really know who any of these kids are- I can't assume they go to any church, I have know idea who their parents are, I don't know them at all. But frankly, I found it very rude.

Now as I sit here and type this out, I failing to accurately describe the audacity of the kids (is audacity the right word? i'll get to that in a sec). My question is this:

What should I have done?

Should I politely ask them to leave if they're not going to help, since the event was over at 11?

Should I yell at them and tell them how rude and inconsiderate they were being?

Should I just pretend it's not big deal?

As I'm pouring out the extra ice from our massive cooler, there's a couple bottled waters left, so I offer it to them and they accept- then just keep chatting and pretending there isn't work to do. I ask them if they had fun and cheerfully say I look forward to seeing them next week.

Was that the right thing to do? In my mind, I can't hold these kids to a standard that they might not hold themselves to- as a Christian, I believe we are to offer ourselves in service to one another, especially when whoever it is needs help has just spent time providing me with a good time!

But from their perspective, did they even notice? Were they conscious of the fact they were being in considerate? Or have they just been in such a position to be served their whole life? Remember these are suburban St. Louis kids who drive nicer cars than my Dad.

What is the Christian response? Frankly, I'm convinced that part of being a Christian IS being taken advantage of. But am I providing these kids with a dis-service by not pointing out the err in their ways? Or was it right to still treat them kindly. Was it right for me to fake kindness when inside I really wanted to yell at them?

What should I have done?

(If this seems like a melodramatic post, I'm sorry. If you would have been there the situation would have had more magnitude than reading it on the blog! I also apologize for the many spelling and grammatical errors in this post, it's late.)


sarah said...

it's all about love. i think you did the right thing.

Matt said...

My first instinct is to rip 'em too! That sort of thing angers me like few things can anger me. It's the "entitlement" attitude that seems to prevail here in W. St. Louis County. I really don't like it. Raising children is hard enough by itself, but it's really hard to raise children with good, Christian values in our area.

That being said, I agree with Sarah. As much as you'd like to change their standards for "right and wrong" or what's "fair", you can't really do it one evening a week for a couple of hours. You handled it correctly. Show 'em the love, baby! The confrontational response would send them away saying "man, those church people are real jerks!". Me-thinks that is not the image we want to project to the community. Keep up the great work Adam!

Professor RJ Gumby said...

Personally, I believe in the use of wilting sarcasm - done with love of course...

Anonymous said...

Hey Mustoe,
Love 'em but you might try resorting to "the look".


Denise Bertrand said...

I would have done what you did, mostly to avoid confrontation, but with time to think about it, here's what I wish I would have done:

Been very straighforward and directly given jobs to each person still standing there, with as much humor as possible, but not so much that there was any question that there was a job for them to do. Anything less direct was too easy for them to miss (or pretend to miss) and taught them nothing about being good citizens, never mind good Christians.

It's easy for me to say, of course, lots harder to do when caught off-guard!

The Millers-Because we like it Original! said...

I've been in that situation several times-it's not fun. In fact, that brings up several questions-but again, I'm gonna write an email with questions...I want to hear your thoughts on these things, because I haven't met another Methodist Youth Pastor, and I can't help but think it's more than coincedence that I found your blog in one click.

ubpllaef: Dutch for ugly bread.

Joe said...

What kind of discs do you use for your night frisbee games? I saw a Light Up Frisbee Game Pack by Black Jax Sports that has the wrist bands and the LED frisbee in a set for around $20 or so...have you tried them?


Adam said...

Hey Joe, we use frisbees from they're awesome