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As we prayerfully consider how we should progress in the day-to-day and the year-to-year aspects of our programs, we have the freedom to call out in exhaustion and even frustration that we want to quit. We have the freedom to question and say to Our Lord that we’ve tried something over and over before to no avail. But, when He speaks back to us, we need to be open to the fact that He may send us back out there to rejoin the ranks.

When you think of Confirmation, does a checklist immediately come to mind? Instruct confirmation candidates about their Catholic identity and review Creed: check. Explore and define the gifts of the Holy Spirit: check. Teach the importance of choosing a proper saint and sponsor: check. The list of to-do’s can seem endless and overwhelming. Phaedrus said, […]

I found, through Life Teen, where I fit in perfectly: as a piece of God’s great puzzle. I was meant to be different than how society was teaching me to live; I have been called to be more and to truly “set the world on fire” through showing love to others just as Christ showed me.

But, as rewarding as youth ministry is, it’s also challenging for all of us. Navigating that priest-youth minister relationship can be awkward. It is, after all, multi-faceted: shepherd-sheep, employer-employee, co-workers in the vineyard, etc. Keep in mind that it is a delicate dance for the priest as well, as he serves as spiritual father as well as administrator of all the people entrusted to his care, including you, your core, and your teens!

As soon as I walked in the church, I was shocked at what I saw – TEENS!! I had thought they’d gone extinct in the Church! Looking around, I started seeing some familiar faces from school. I was incredibly happy. Then Mass started. I was expecting to hear the usual adult cantor and some sound resembling “song” emanating from the congregation.

To my surprise, Mass started with an upbeat, piano driven version of “Your Grace Is Enough” by Matt Maher. Piano, drums, three guitars, a saxophone, even a violin. These guys had it all.

The excitement, the anticipation, the preparation, the prayers, the laughter, the tears, the wonder, the awe of bringing middle school youth into a life-changing encounters with Jesus Christ. There’s nothing like it!

I am entering my 9th year of Edge and have just launched Edge at a second parish in my diocese. So, no matter where you are in your journey of all things Edge, I can probably relate to what you’re going through. Here are a couple of things I’ve learned — and often need to be reminded of — when starting Edge:

The bottom line is we have to put our own growth and striving in holiness foremost and let our work in youth ministry follow and flow from it. Prayer, together with receiving the sacraments, is central to successful ministry. Or, better yet, as St. Augustine said: “Pray as if everything depended on God. Work as if everything depended on you.”

What would happen if you turned on your kitchen tap and nothing came out? When you go to the bathroom, the same thing. You even try your garden hose before realizing that your neighbors don’t have water either. After waiting 12 hours, the water still hasn’t come on. Something is wrong.

Do we need to know every detail of the teens’ lives? No. Nor do we need to broadcast every little thing to the entire youth group. Everything has its time and place. We just need to be open, available, and aware of what is going on just below the surface so that we can better serve our teens and help build community. We need to be with them on in their successes and their failings. As youth ministers and as volunteers, we can ask questions about their lives and passions. We can get our hands dirty in the muck and mire of life in order to show they are not alone.

We train our Core Team so they are equipped with the knowledge of how to be youth ministers. We need to give these incredible volunteers the tools and skills and resources they need to lead teens to Christ.

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