“Baltimore is burning.” So, should I call my friends and see if I need to offer them housing? Okay. It was a serious situation. But seriously, what impression would people receive from some (too many) of the headlines covering the events in Baltimore on April 27, 2015? It’s as if the media was there waiting for something to report that would grab attention and push the ratings. Seriously. Many days of peaceful protest by hundreds of people—unnoticed, unreported for the most part. That same day, peaceful protests—unnoticed, unreported for the most part. And then—bricks, fire, confrontation, and everyone was on it, lighting up the internet, airwaves and everything else.
What a picture of Baltimore! Is there justice in those reports? Justice in the sense of fair reporting. What about the complexities of the situation on the ground as well as the ones that spurred the protests? Of course, the truth is you have a choice as to whether you allow that alone to shape your perceptions or whether you seek other sources to get a fuller picture.
You have a choice as do the many people who look at your youth ministry and talk about it. You may be in a fully supportive environment. Or, you may be in the environment where there’s that person or persons waiting for just that one moment when one of your youth messes up. And, you know at some point one will mess up. Then, the report goes. The youth are tearing up the place. The youth are not to be trusted. The youth worker is out of control. You can fill in the rest. Is there justice in those reports? Why didn’t the report have a fuller picture? What about all the times when the youth were well-behaved? What about when they cleaned the voluntarily cleaned up the church yard? What about . . . ? Where is the fairness in that reporting?
Then there’re the mission trips. When you go on and return from mission trips, what do you report? Is it a full picture of the residents and their lives or is it a sensational one that’s sure to grab attention? You know the ones that are filled with how terrible things are or how wonderful the people are because they were nice to you; the ones that don’t go below the surface to the complexities of the situation or report on other aspects of life. The ones that will convince people they should give so that the young people can continue to have these wonderful experiences.
It’s easy to focus on the pieces of a story and situation that will grab attention. Who doesn’t want their story to be heard. The challenge is going past that to a report of depth and breadth with a fuller picture and a more complex one. Can you do that?
Living fully. Living faithfully. Following Christ.
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