An infected person with a glowing green hand touches others who then contract glowing green hands, and who each pass along the glowing green infection to another and then another. This is often how we believe suffering operates. We implicitly assume it’s passed on like an infection, like the green hand.
Youth ministry has historically been constructed around fun and entertainment, assuming we need these things to get young people to come and participate. If they come and participate we can get them to become members of the church, to have faith, to be responsible, that is, to do what we want them to do. In youth ministry we have often seen our relationships as tools for positive influence. But this may prevent us from being with adolescents in their raw human existence, in the midst of their suffering for an identity, in the midst of suffering broken families, disappointment and fear. We might assume, because youth ministry has tried to be an influential commercial for Christian faith, that any suffering from one will infect the group. In other words: Don’t have the depressed kid come on the trip or she’ll infect the group with her suffering. Don’t ask him about the divorce of his parents because what then would I say? Don’t put two and two together that your most committed leader may be the victim of abuse because that may remind you of your own past.