A few trends I am observing in Catholic Youth Ministry – let me know in the comments section if there are any more you think should be included.
Simply put – there is an age compression going on. The 10th grade student of 7 years ago in regard to issues they face is today’s 6th grader. This means that things like the classroom model of catechesis for middle school may need to be transformed into a more relational ministry setting. Maybe a format of a large group gathering that then breaks middle school students into small groups to discuss issues and Church teaching with older teens and adults leading them. This also means that high school youth ministry needs to have much more depth with prayer and more service opportunities than ever before.
2. A Return to Radical Discipleship
Teens are not looking for their parish to just entertain them, they are looking for the reasons to give all and follow Christ while they are young. Parishes that choose to form Discipleship relationships with young people are seeing fruit being born in the form of teens wanting to serve the Church by getting married and forming strong Catholic families, some being youth ministers and some becoming priests and nuns.
3. The Multi-Role Leader
Let’s face it, a good number of youth leaders have been asked to not only coordinate youth ministry but sometimes serve as DRE, young adult coordinator, middle school leader etc. The growing trend is for youth leaders to be multi dimensional for parishes. The need for delegation and team models is growing. No longer can a youth leader be an island and do everything themselves. The great news is that leaders are adapting and there is great ministry at many parishes even though leaders have been asked to coordinate multiple areas.
4. Movements of Missionaries
The growing number of Catholic youth ministries with full and part time missionaries is exploding. Organizations like Net Ministries, Focus, Adore, Fraternus, Life Teen and others are all seeing growth in the desire of young adults to serve as missionaries to teens and college students. All theses organizations provide not only ministry opportunities for missionaries, but formation as well. The great news is that many of these missionaries are leaving after 1 or 2 years of service and taking full time youth ministry positions in parishes and diocese. They are adding an element of Evangelization and a mission heart that is enlivening the Church.