March 31st ... 25th Anniversary of Modern Catholic Youth Ministry
a 'soapbox editorial' by D. Scott Miller
1. Continue your formation; read, reflect, listen
2. Love young people; see Jesus in each and every one of them
3. Get a Spiritual Director
4. Grow your prayer life
5. Recognize who the Savior is ... don't try to be the Messiah!
Taken from his farewell address to Dallas youth ministers
Bishop Joseph Galante, April 2004
Program Designs and Hints
from Ministry Resources for Community Life
by Ann Marie Eckert
Every program, event, or conversation has the potential for helping a young person feel comfortable and valued. By paying attention to community-life issues in the programs you select and provide, you can help the community that is built within your parish youth ministry program.
Be attentive to new people. Every group faces the problem of becoming a clique when the same people come on a regular basis. When new people come to a program or event, make sure that someone reaches out to them and welcomes them into the community.
Encourage interaction. When young people arrive at an event, they should be greeted and engaged in conversation or an activity. By being attentive to hospitality, the participants will not experience that awkward time of discomfort or uneasiness that they often feel when they are new or just getting to know people.
Play a common game, start a conversation, or ask for help with setup; this gives young people a safe way of interacting.
Spend the time to build community. Adults often are so interested in getting to the information or the program activities--which they believe are most important--that they ignore the importance of building community. We can't expect young people to share personal faith stories if they don't know one another's names. The times used to build community and create trusting relationships within the group is time well spent.
Define the role of competition. No matter what the activity may be, consider the amount and style of competition that is involved. Are all recreation times or icebreakers built around competition? Are activities designed around who can complete the project first? Competition isn't always bad, but too much of it can create an atmosphere in which young people don't know how to act other than in competition with each other.
Choose fund-raisers that build community. Many parishes spend a significant amount of time raising money. When choosing fund-raisers, consider how each fund-raiser contributes to building community, both among the young people and between the young people and the parish community. Fund-raisers that involve individuals selling to neighbors do little to build community, but a car wash can be a fun experience for the young people and a benefit for the community.
Provide community meals. Many parishes gather young people for dinner before an evening event, and ask families to provide and prepare the dinner. This provides an opportunity for large-group community building, and can be especially valuable before religious education or other programs where young people will be divided into smaller groups for the majority of the scheduled time.
Create social times. By being attentive to the way you schedule events, most programs can include time for social interaction. By providing a little food, a space for recreation, and opportunities for small-group conversations, young people can have a safe place to find out more about one another, talk about things that interest them, and discover common interests.
From Ministry Resources for Community Life, by Ann Marie Eckert, ISBN 0-88489-771-0, ISBN-13 978-0-88489-771-2, 192 pages, paper, $29.95, http://www.smp.org/ItemDetail.cfm?ItemNum=2460
Wondering what books you NEED to have at your fingertips?
Click here to read "The Essential Youth Ministry Library" by Leota Roesch.
Top 10 Things a New Youth Minister Should Know to Survive and Thrive in Youth Ministry!
by Rich Rasmussen Diocese of Rochester
Congratulations! You have been called to serve as a youth minister. The questions that you now find yourself asking are “Now what? Where do I begin?” Here are the top 10 things I believe a new youth minister should know:
1. God Called You: God called you to youth ministry because God knows the gifts that you bring to the parish. A colleague of mine once said, “God brings who God wants to bring.” Congratulations! God called you.
2. Pace Yourself: Many parishes will expect you to “hit the ground running” and “pick up where our last youth minister left off.” Establish yourself in your new role first. Plan social gatherings and get to know teens and their families. Building relationships is the most important thing.
3. Set Clear Goals: Take time to define what you envision youth ministry should look like in your parish. What are the immediate needs and what do you envision the needs to be in six months? One year?
4. Don’t be a “Lone Ranger”: Youth ministry is the responsibility of the entire parish. Get help from parents and other adults who have a passion for working with young people. The Director of Youth Ministry in your diocese can also be your greatest resource in getting started.
5. Be Yourself: Young people are hungry for relationships with adults who are genuine. They want you to be just as you are. Be the caring, talented, compassionate, and professional youth minister you are.
6. Maintain Your Balance: Along with youth ministry comes crazy hours and a wacky schedule. It is crucial that you establish “Sabbath days” with your family. Keep these days holy by devoting time to yourself and your family.
7. Advocate for a budget: A youth ministry budget is crucial for purchasing the resources you need to get started and to continue to thrive. Depending on the size of your parish, $500-$1000 could be a number to begin negotiating.
8. Develop a Resource Library: A solid resource library is essential. To get started I recommend Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry, (http://www.usccb.org/laity/youth/rtvintro.shtml); Thriving in Youth Ministry by Bob McCarty (http://www.nacyml.org/members/profession/index.asp); and The Catholic Youth Bible published through Saint Mary’s Press (www.stmaryspress.org). You can also find more resources specific to junior or senior high at www.grouppublishing.com.
9. Be Flexible: You will spend countless hours planning topics for each youth group session only to realize halfway through a gathering that things are not going well. Chances are your group needs something else. Maybe something major happened at school or there is another issue. Be sensitive to the needs of the group and always anticipate the need to shift gears.
10. Be Patient: In general, it takes about three years to establish a strong youth ministry program. Do not let your success be defined by the number of teens in your group. “Large youth groups are successful youth groups” is a myth. There will be times when you feel you are not having any impact on the teens in your group. Rest assured, the impact you are making on young peoples’ lives goes far beyond anything you can imagine.
Rome was not built in a day, so sit back and take each day as it comes. This list is inexhaustible, but at the end of the day you will find you have done well, good and faithful servant.