Hey there. I am currently a Pastor in South Florida and as you know these issues are prevalent in our communities. I was born and raised in the inner-city and I have found that the best way to communicate and deal with this issue is in their language. These kids need to know that you care and need to know you understand their situation. Many of theses kids don't have anyone to guide them in whats right. The last thing they need is someone that tells them what to do, but they need someone to walk with them in the mist of their trials. For Instance, I allow kids this summer to show up during office hours and hang out. They play video games, basketball, and just chill in my office while I work. I buy them pizza see days and they love it. I chose the worst kid to be the leader and he had blossomed into something beautiful.
I also have two phone numbers one is personal and the other is for the kids and their parents. The kids call and the parents call me anytime they need to talk. (I share the phone with my wife just in case a young lady calls and she is the "go to".)
The key is being genuine. Kids have a way of detecting if we truly care as leaders. I would also advise you to be very up to date with whats going on in the music, fashion, culture, and etc. of their community. You must always find a point of connection. For instance, I emphasize to them that I am their big brother and I'm okay with the kids calling me by my first name. It builds a different type of bond. They already have parents telling them what to do, they need someone they can trust and talk to.
With these kids the biggest impact is not gong to be from the pulpit, but from the relationship that is built. Once the relationship is their, I guarantee they will apply everything that is communicated through the pulpit.
The next thing that is important is environment. These kids don't want to go to church. you have to alter the way you deliver your message. Treat your sermons as an opportunity to have a conversation and dialogue. Give them an opportunity ti express their perspective and how they feel. Most of them have preconceived notion about their sins and shortcomings that are incorrect. I have invested in my youth room to make it a place where these kids want to come. I have put ps4 and wii in the room. Pool tables, table tennis, that soccer game and more. It feels like a Starbucks. I have also invested in a snack bar and Ade it a place where these kids want to come. Most of my inner-city students don't attend on Sundays but they are always their throughout the week.
But I can go on and on, but these are some pointers that may or may not be helpful. I was born and raised in the inner city (the ghetto as some may call it) and never had a youth group. So I try and see my youth groups from the perspective in which I was as a kid needing a place to belong.
The Bridge Church (Miramar Fl)