In the Northern Hemisphere, Teens will be heading back to school and heading back to a parish this fall. As a companion of teens on their faith journey, there are some basic things that teens are counting on you doing and being. Here are 5 things that teens are counting on from you.
1.) Your Time -
Teens live in a world where there are many people who don’t spend time with them. When they show up for Mass, Life Nights, Bible Studies, XLT or retreats they are counting on your time and frankly that you are going to be there. This is usually not a problem for paid youth leaders as it is your role to be there. However, it is especially true for Core members to spend time with teens and to be there for them. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that it is alright to not show up – teens are counting on you showing up. It matters to them!
2.) A Communal Connection -
Teens are counting on you making the connection between their lives and the Catholic faith. To break open the ways Christ is relevant for a teen today. Teens count on youth leaders to help them discover how living a life for Christ matters now and why it is important for them to be a part of a vibrant parish community. The best way to do this is to show radical hospitality, introducing them to everyone including your family, sharing with them how Christ is impacting your life and helping them to discover how God is currently present and moving in their life.
3.) Radical Hope and Encouragement –
We proclaim a compassionate and loving God. Teens need to see that you believe that. Teens are counting on you to accept them where they are and to love them enough to not let them not stay there. Teens need you to tell them that you are not perfect and God continues to form you and change you. Teens are counting on you giving them hope that they can change and that change can be good!
4.) You Counting on God –
Teens show up seeking Christ, how tragic if all they find is you! Teens are expecting you to be counting more on God than on your own talents and ideas. Teens need to see how you trust in God and His plan. They need to see you counting on His Grace. This is why Life Teen focuses so much on the Sacraments in youth ministry. You can minister to the shell of a teen all day long with little transformation. If you lead teens to the Sacraments, you are allowing Christ to reach the souls of the teens. Teens are counting on you making ministry at your parish about Christ, His Sacraments and being transformed by challenging teens to grow in their relationship with Christ and our Blessed Mother.
5.) You Striving for Holiness –
Teens aren’t counting on you to be perfect – just real. What they are counting on is your continual striving for Holiness in your life. If you are not being filled each day with the Love of God through prayer, Sacraments and Holy Scripture, there is a danger that you could remain involved in ministry for wrong reasons like needing affirmation from young people or making ministry more about looking successful to peers than making a real difference in the lives of teens and their families. Let teens see that you are not perfect, just striving each day to grow in your holiness. Teens are counting on you to be an authentic person striving to live as a true disciple lives. (This includes for those of you who are married or dating to be a holy example of marriage, family or courtship)
What do you think? What are teens counting on from you at your parish?