Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge

Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Is "Youth Group" Dead?

For a long while now, I've rejected the idea of "youth group" because it just didn't seem to meet all of the needs that young people had. Instead, I used the Renewing The Vision's 8 Components as the back bone of youth ministry. So, I have socials. I have service opportunities. I have grand summer events. I have Religious Education (yes, through 12th grade!) I incorporate Community Life, I advocate, I invite them to prayer events, do pastoral care...

But what seems to be missing is space for them to just come and FLOP. To sit around with their peers and adults who love them (besides mom and dad...) and reinforce all the good things that we're trying to give them in an arena that they think they are creating, and in some ways they are: Youth Group.

Does the concept of "Youth Group" work anymore? Is it needed? Is it what they are looking for? Do we ask them what they are looking for, knowing that in 2 weeks they will change their minds? Do we simply supply them with what we have and expect them to show up?


Blogger Mike Roesch said...

I think it's a difficult question. My diocese was preparing for the switch from a CYO, youth group-oriented program to a "comprehensive" program based on Renewing the Vision when I was a senior in high school (4 years ago), and I was on the parish committee for this change. The youth involvement in my parish has dwindled since that time.

I think the problem with youth ministry today is that there seems to be a drive to find a one size fits all "program," whether Life Teen, or a certain interpretation of Renewing the Vision, or whatever. My diocese is a mostly rural diocese. Shifting to (this particular interpretation of) Renewing the Vision was doomed to failure, and I said it in the committee, because there just aren't enough youth to go around for having 5 or 6 different events per week. Having "youth group" not only gave kids a time just to "flop," but there was a central meeting time for the youth of the parish, who all knew each other anyway.

The CYO model worked for us. Taking away a set "youth group" was designed to get rid of ideas of their being a certain clique of youth that ran everything, but in the end it just took away the time for everyone to get together and, from a practical perspective, find out what other events are coming up.

But at the same time I can easily see how a youth group centered ministry might not work as well at a larger parish. Youth ministry, and ministry in general, is not a one size fits all field.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The youth group is dead at our large, urban parish. But it might have something to do with our youth minister. She told my husband and myself that she does teen ACTS and confirmation. If we want a youth group for the high school kids, she will "allow" us to do it. But it's not her job. Nice, huh?

12:31 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...


this is my problem!

I think RTV is excellent in that it gets us as youth ministers to think more broadly in terms of the needs of the kids. Not every kid is comfortable with "youth group"-largely, I'll guess, because of the cliquey nature that can sometimes happen.

But at the same time, the need that "Youth Group" provided still seems to emerge and I'm not sure what the next step is.

Anonymous: is she paid full time staff? Heck, if she said you could do it, you might have some realy freedom to minister!!

2:41 PM  
Blogger said...

I hate "Youth Group." And for several reasons. First, I don't think the church needs to give kids a place to hang out. That's what their houses are for.

I also hate "church kids." You know the ones, the kids who hang around the church all the time and do every retreat and every activity and every everything because they don't know how to make a single friend in the world. I want my kids to live a real life, not a church life. The Church is not a refuge or hang out spot, she is a prophetic presence.

Church does not just happen at the Temple. The Church is present whenever "we" are together. Our worship is at the temple, but our life as a Church is everywhere we are. "Where two or three are gathered . . ." and not just when two or three are gathered for prayer or some spiritual purpose. Every time two or three are gathered even for pizza or video games there is Christ. Even if its a sin. There is Christ. When kids begin to understand this, watch out . . . everything changes.

The real problem with Youth Ministry is that it is thought of only as programming when the real model, Christ's model of ministry, was relationship and education.

Relationship is born when we live our lives in front of each other. It can happen hanging out at the Church or the local coffee shop or over a hamburger or whatever. The Trinity is a relationship that happens, this is the same for us.

Education is the risk that an adult takes in helping a teenager judge the reality that they live and help them to see the Presence of Another in their life.

Miracles happen when you are real with teens. When you build a frienship instead of a youth group.

3:24 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

Beingornothingness (PS like your blog, btw) I say amen to everything you have just said.

BUT: Youth Group CAN be that place where friendships can begin, grow and develop. It's a place that kids can question and affirm their lives in light of the material I or other excellent adult leaders might present. That is-challenge them to live the Gospel message in the context of friends and relationships gathered. I'm not sure why that is objectionable.

Then again, you are right-it can happen anywhere. I have an all-nighter social tonight and then the a service event with Confirmation kids AND then Workcamp meeting: all programmed events, but the two underlying premises are: for trusted adults to spend time with them in mentor-type relationships and most importantly for the kids to be surrounded by believers so as to be formed as a Christian. To encounter Christ in others and witness others living a life of holiness.

4:47 PM  
Blogger said...

I shoulnd't post on a bad day. I came across like a Postal employee . . . no offense to postal employees, my God-father being one of them.

4:14 AM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

Well, it seemed like an honest post. I'm still wondering about it...which way to go?

6:54 PM  

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