Youth Ministry is NOT a Sunday Night Event from 7-9pm or LifeTeen Mass at 6, pizza at 7, Lifenight at 7:30, done by 10. It's not even going to their games. It's not just hangin' out after their school hours. It's not planning a fun Friday night social.
I was chatting with some friends, one of whom is going into Youth Ministry. And God love her, she really knows how to relate to the young people and is taking courses in Catechetics. But because youth ministry is so narrow, still, in the United States, people keep talking about Sunday Night Youth Group.
When I was a teen, I did not fit into the group that went to Sunday Night Youth Group (SNYG). I didn't know the kids, I never felt comfortable or reached out too. I was visible in the Church, in that I cantored and was an EM, and I went through Confirmation. People knew I was there, but I never was invited to join and when I did show up on my own it was awful!
Ok, so my experience is several years old. But in some churches not much has changed.
This friend and I were talking about LifeTeen. Now, I love LifeTeen for what it is. I'm annoyed by it for what it isn't.
That is why I always bring up the 8 Components of Youth Ministry. This is THE BEST way that I have found to bring about a comprehensive formative process in which to engage teens in nearly any way just as unique as each kid. But it also goes hand in hand with the "Bosconian" (really, I should say Salesian, I guess) approach to youth ministry. It's about reaching out, it's about laying down your fears, it's about talking to kids that don't know you, it's about being intentional when looking at their lives and finding a place for them in your ministry plans.
I don't even care if a parish does LifeTeen. I will say that their Confirmation and classsroom material is THE BEST
I have seen out there. It is user friendly for teachers and is a solid balanced mix of teen culture and Church teaching (most are either too teen friendly and have pablum for Church teaching or are mega-heavy on Church teaching and leave the kids in the dust). But I care little for what program they are "using". I want to know that youth ministers are thinking comprehensively and sacrificially. That they are going outside of their comfort zone to bring kids in. That they are making plans that will invite kids of all shapes, sizes and interests into the life of the Church.
Am I making ANY sense here???
Labels: Church teaching, Confirmation, LifeTeen, programs, youth groups