HELPING STUDENTS TAKE ACTION ON SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES: YS IDEA LAB WITH LATASHA MORRISON
LATASHA MORRISON has served in Next Gen ministries for nine years and is currently on staff in children’s ministry. She is also the founder of the organization BE THE BRIDGE, which was designed to intentionally create conversations about diversity in the church. In this YS Idea lab, Latasha shares how we can help students create conversations about social justice issues in their communities.
1) IT BEGINS WITH ME.
Before I can expect any student to care about social justice issues or about intentionally building relationships with people of other ethnicities, I have to be willing to do it first. Latasha said that if youth workers are disconnected, the students might be as well.
In response to this, we could take the opportunity to be honest with our students about this disconnection and empower them to lead a conversation about diversity for the entire group. Even if your youth group is largely one ethnicity, you might have some students who go to a more diverse school or who play on a diverse sports team. Work to empower them as spokespeople for the value of diversity, and equip them to start conversations with the rest of the students.
2) EVERY PERSON HAS A DIFFERENT STORY.
Sometimes we choose to see minorities as a collective group. Latasha reminds us that we all have different experiences, we come from different families, and we have very different backgrounds. There’s incredible value in each of our individual stories, and our conversations about diversity need to begin with that in mind. We’ll most likely find some commonalities, but we all have significant differences.
3) INTENTIONALLY CREATE OPPORTUNITIES.
If you don’t have opportunities to connect with people of other ethnicities in your schools, church, or neighborhood, then you have to choose to seek out those opportunities. Go out of your way to find and connect with youth workers who serve minority students and families. Intentionally watch, listen, and learn from their experiences and their approaches to ministry. Then work to build a relationship between the students—not as a project but instead as a way to learn from each other.
4) EXPERIENCE WITH A PURPOSE.
As a part of building those cross-cultural connections, it’s important to create room for students to apply what they learn. Use your ministry’s time, energy, and resources to support ideas your students come up with to address issues of diversity and social justice in your community. Build their ideas into the mentorship relationships they have with older adults in the church, and include them in your discipleship process or small-group strategy.