Can you imagine re-starting your ministry every three years or maybe even every year because your teens and families change?
It you’re a military youth minister know this reality all too well; families coming and going, volunteers rotating in and out throughout the year and priests relocating just as often. So what does a youth minister do when all elements of your “youth ministry” are changing?
Listen and follow God’s will.
I wish I could give the perfect “5 step” plan to solve the challenge of inconsistency, but everyone’s plan and call are unique.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
The key is being obedient to God’s will. From a daily communion with God through the Sacraments and prayer, comes the foundation of leading teens closer to Christ. A foundation rooted in relationship with teens and their families pointing them constantly to the Sacraments.
This week I had the opportunity to talk and pray with a military youth minister who is dealing with this reality of inconsistency. Can you imagine your agreed upon pay check and benefits changing monthly without you knowing it? Your Edge leaders are moving in a few weeks and oh – by the way – we now need you to lead and run the confirmation retreat! Don’t forget that your priest will be out a few months for medical procedures and the priest who will take his place will only be able to be there for Sunday Mass.
Wow! And that’s a typical season for a military Youth Minister. Six months ago you had the dream team of Core Members, volunteer Edge leaders, a dynamic priest and a committed group of teens ready to change the world. Now none of these can be found in a 100 mile radius!
So where do you go from here? Here are some suggestions from my own experience:
Look for new opportunities. Maybe this is a season of pruning for future growth. Look for those who may not fit the mold of what others envision as ideal volunteers but if they have a heart for the youth go ahead and plug them in.
You need to spend some time restructuring your volunteers, fixing the kinks in your military contract and gaining the support of your parish council. Invite teens and families into these tasks. Gather a group of teens and adults around you in prayer to seek God’s will. It may be okay to not have a formal Life Night or Edge night with all the “bells and whistles.” Change it up by having a night of prayer and Adoration. The key here is seeking His voice.
Continually take the pulse of your teens and families. Who are you doing your events and gatherings for? Are you doing things because you did them in the past? What do your teens need? And who’s available to join your team to meet these changing needs?
Relationship is Key.
Go where your teens are. Ask tough questions. Pray for them and with them. Get to know your teens and bring other adults with you to teach them. Train your Core so that they can step into your role at any time. You never know when you may be the next to move; equip those around you to take your place.
Most of all remember why you are doing what you are doing and stay rooted and covered in prayer.