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, November 15, 2005

Advocacy

New-Job Girl here. A little overwhelmed at the end of each day.

However, I wanted to start with Advocacy because I believe it's one of the least understood parts of youth ministry-and one a lot of youth ministers feel like they do quite often, especially at staff meetings.

Advocacy can take many forms. I forgot my "Renewing The Vision" book-it's somewhere in my yet unpacked boxes-but I know it well and will speak from experience.

Advocacy. What does it mean to be an advocate? Well, you are speaking on behalf of someone else, esp someone else in need. Sometimes you will be an advocate for the youth to the parish staff. Sometimes you will be an advocate for youth to their parents. Sometimes you will be the advocate of the parents to the kids. Sometimes you will be an advocate of the youth to themselves. Sometimes you will be an advocate of God, calling his children to grow deeper with him.

When I worked in the inner city we often advocated financially to bigger corporations for money for our programs. It took a great deal of commiment to evaluate ourselves and give the money givers a solid idea of how our work was improving the community. But we wanted something more than social work done and we wanted money to go towards evangelization as well we better their lives.

When I was at my last parish I often advocated for the youth to their parents. I find the youth in suburban, esp affluent suburbia to be by and large exceptionally busy. Much of their involvement is to get it on their college-bound resume's so that they get into a good college. It's also a good way for parents to encourage their kids to stay out of trouble. There is a lot to be said for the discipline and teamwork that comes from their involvement in sports, theatre and other school-related activities. However it always seemed to be at the expense of the Church.

When reshaping the Confirmation program I included a service commitment: 2 hours 4 times a year. I'd set everything up and we did everything together (more about that in the "Service and Justice" piece) all they'd have to do is show up and be willing to serve. You would not believe the kvetching I heard from mom and dad. "Shelly has cheerleading every single Saturday and I'm not willing to make her take time out for this" "Bobby is already petting puppies down at the shelter, isn't that good enough? Can that count?"

I advocated for the kids to do the service in the way I'd set it up because it was the best way to get them involved, together as a community and do it in the context of prayer and serving. And ultimately, all the things I asked of them were avenues that would lead them to heaven and help them be open to the Lord. After all, isn't that what Youth Minsitry is about?

There were many times, MANY times when I did advocate in the ways that most people think about: A kid in trouble, a kid needing a reference for a job, a kid in the court system, trouble at home, youth doing fundraising to go to Workcamp, youth getting something in return instead of being slave labor for the other parish groups, advocating to the priest that the kids NOT do drama during Mass because this was not a good thing to teach them about the Liturgy.

What it takes is making sure that Christ is your center and remembering who you serve. Sometimes you will face challenges from those you advocate to. But the goal is to get people to heaven and surely that is worth by passing our fears and insecurities and speaking up for the Truth (with love and prudence of course).

Any thoughts?

1 Comments:

Anonymous Margo said...

But why can't petting puppies down at the shelter count?!

Seriously -- you're so right: centered on Christ is where we have to be in order to truly (correctly) serve others.

4:25 PM  

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