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Get youth on the right path

PRAYING FOR THE STREETS: A recent prayer march held against the spike in London violence

DURING THE past few weeks Christians from across the denominational spectrum have held prayer marches in Croydon, Hackney, Anerley, Tottenham, Wood Green, Peckham, Lewisham and Brixton to make a public stand against youth crime and violence and pray for peace on our streets.

Praying is what churches do, and no one should be surprised the first united response from churches on this major issue has been prayer – but there’s no doubt more needs to be done.
There has been a lot of chatter – within and outside church circles – that one of the key reason why some youth join gangs, get involved in crime and are violent is due to the quality of parenting they receive.

If this is the case, the church is in a great position to encourage better parenting, support parents and provide beneficial and worthwhile activities for youth.

Soul Stirrings has compiled a list of things churches can do to help support the family, improve the quality of parenting children receive and run meaningful activities for youth.

1. Teach, promote and encourage marriage
Stable marriages are the foundation of any strong community, and it’s preferable for children to come after marriage.
2. Encourage parents to send children to Sunday school
It’s a great place for children to get a moral education, learn about the bible and interact with other little people.
3. Hold church-based parenting courses
Parenting in the 21st century can be challenging, especially when you have teenagers.
Church-based parenting courses would help parents better negotiate the ups and down of raising children and teach them effective techniques to deal with challenges.
4. Encourage the sharing of stories and experiences
Host events where professionals and parents share their stories of successfully steering children back on the right path after they engaged in anti-social behaviour whether it’s crime, gangs or violence.
5. Appoint youth mentors
The teenage years can be difficult ones. Churches should consider appointing youth mentors to help support young people during this time.
6. Rent out church space
Church buildings are a key resource and are rarely utilised. Consider renting out buildings to groups for free.
7. Provide mediation services
Christianity promotes reconciliation, and churches should provide mediation services to help estranged parents work together in the best interests of their children.
8. Book speakers
Churches should invite local community groups that work with youth to talk about their work during Sunday services and donate to their cause.
9. Create groups
Set up Girls Brigade and Boys Brigade clubs in the church.
10. Employ youngsters
Consider appointing full time youth workers to work with youth both in and out the church.

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