Two years ago I left a parish where I had spent 12 years as the youth minister. Yesterday I got a graduation announcement from a teen at my old parish. She was a sophomore my last year there. The reality hit. Next year, few teens at my old parish will even remember that I was the youth minister there.
And that’s totally okay. I don’t need them to remember me. The only important question is: Do they know Jesus?
Question: if someone walked into a Life Night or other youth ministry event at your parish, would they be able to find Jesus?
I try to ask myself this question often. And to be honest, I probably answer NO more often than YES.
Yesterday, it dawned on me how important it is to make sure that when the teens walk into our programs, they aren’t just meeting me or one of our Core Members, but that at EVERY event, they also have an encounter with our Lord. You see, one day they will graduate and move on. One day that Core Member will step out of ministry. One day I might not be their youth minister anymore.
The reality is, one day our ministry isn’t going to be a part of that teen’s everyday life. And when that day comes, have we done a good job leading them to Jesus? Because that’s the only way their faith will last.
How can you be sure your ministry is leading teens to Jesus and not just to you and your Core Members?
1. How’s your prayer life going?
You’re the youth minister. If you’re not praying… if you’re not in relationship with the Lord… I can bet your ministry isn’t centered and rooted in Jesus. We can’t lead people to a place we haven’t been. If you want your ministry to be about Jesus, then you need to be about Jesus.
2. Casting Vision.
Make sure your team knows that your #1 goal is to ensure that Jesus is at the center of everything your ministry does. And then come up with a way to intentionally plan for encounter experiences. Hold each other accountable to planning Jesus into your programs. It may seem strange, but if we don’t invite Him into the plan and make sure there’s a place for Him, we can’t be sure our teens will encounter Him.
3. Evaluate your programs.
Don’t just print out some generic questions that ask how your ministry programs are going. No. Hold every single thing your ministry does up to a microscope and look for Jesus. Ask, where is Jesus in this Life Night? Where is Jesus when we’re hanging out at a football game with our teens? And if you can find Him there, then ask yourself if the teens knew He was there? The answer to both those questions should be a YES.
“At the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth (CCC 426).”
How do you make sure that Jesus is part of all that you do in your ministry?