Editors Note: This is John Rinaldo’s sixth blog in his series on Multi-Parish Youth Ministry:
1. Multi-Parish Youth Ministry: A Gift and a Challenge
2. Multi-Parish Identity: Healing the Change
3. 8 Principles for Multi-Parish YM, Principle 1
4. 8 Principles for Multi-Parish YM: Principles 2 and 3
5. 8 Principles for Multi-Parish YM: Principles 4 and 5
As we move forward in multi-parish youth ministry, it is important to build momentum to help your ministry be successful, gather resources, and thrive. Principles 6 and 7 allow you to get some successes under your belt so that people can see that multi-parish youth ministry is working.
Jesus Centered Ministry
Principle 6: Dynamic Events
Effective and dynamic events must be central to the shared vision of the multi-parish youth ministry and its mission. Good comprehensive youth ministry calls us to move away from ‘youth group’ and more towards ‘youth groupings,’ providing multiple opportunities for young people to get involved. No youth ministry should be all events, but they are integral to its success.
Dynamic events afford an opportunity to gather a critical mass of young people and volunteers, to
build community, to continue on older parish traditions, and to start some new traditions. Nothing builds momentum faster in multi-parish youth ministry than events that do the following:
- Build authentic community and relationships
- Provide dynamic opportunities for prayer and worship
- Foster the multi-parish identity
- Feed young people’s souls and stomachs
- No one gets hurt
Okay, the last one is said a little tongue-in-cheek, but I guarantee that if a young person gets hurt, that will not help your multi-parish youth ministry efforts. The list above allows people to really get excited about what it is the parishes are trying to with young people. Dynamic events are very visible and public, and, with that, provide a glimpse to the parish communities of what the youth ministry is up to. If young people walk away from these experiences excited, they will certainly talk about it with their friends, family, fellow classmates, and strangers on the street! Nothing builds excitement more than young people talking about youth ministry with everyone they meet.
This is why events like the National Catholic Youth Conference are so powerful. That event is able to build wonderful community with young people from across the country, models effective prayer and worship experiences, fosters a universal Catholic identity in the United States, and it feeds people’s souls. I have not met one youth that walked away from NCYC without their hearts burning for our God.
Travelling to a national conference may not always be the best option, but here is a list of events that may work in your ministry setting:
- Retreats, overnight or day-long
- Youth Day or Rally
- Outdoor excursions like snowboarding weekends
- Service outreach programs like mission trips
- National or international events like NCYC and World Youth Day
This list could go on. But take advantage of the momentum you build with these events. Publicize its success. Allow young people to share about their experiences at mass or other church meetings/events. And let that momentum roll you in to more effective and dynamic multi-parish youth ministry.
Principle 7: Change Management
The second blog article in this series, Multi-Parish Identity: Healing the Change, touches on this principle. But change management is an ongoing process, whether your parishes were ‘forced’ in to this multi-parish identity or it was by choice.
Change starts with you as the leader. Tolstoy once said that, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Change is not something that is embraced by many people right away. It has been said that people and parishes are most willing to embrace change when they:
- Hurt enough that they are willing to change.
- Learn enough that they are willing to change.
- Receive enough that they are able to change.
I don’t recommend hurting people to help them change, but we do have control over the other two points. Advocacy is a huge role of a youth ministry leader. Being an advocate is about educating others about your cause or ministry. They must learn and we must help them learn that multi-parish youth ministry is something that can add tremendous value to the parish communities. They must learn who our young people are and how youth ministry serves them.
Receiving enough that they are able to change is about affirmation, encouragement, and education. They must be given the tools and the encouragement to change. In what ways can we help our parish communities receive the tools and encouragement to change? The tools can be about education and training. The encouragement can very well be the dynamic events that are sponsored which help build the momentum of the multi-parish youth ministry efforts. Sometimes, it only takes the story of one or two young people who have been profoundly affected by youth ministry to help even the most hesitant parishioner jump on board.
What kind of dynamic events can you do to help build momentum in multi-parish youth ministry? What steps can you take to be an advocate for youth ministry that will help people embrace this new change in the way we do church?
CMU Sacramento, CA
Do you live near Sacramento? Join John Rinaldo and members of the Life Teen staff on September 12, 2009 for our 1-day Core Member University. Learn More