As hot chocolate, pine trees and sale ads start to clutter the minds of many this Advent season, we as Catholics are reminded the reason for the season. If we’re to keep Christ in Christmas, we have got to remember to slow down, simplify, and sanctify (a message my pastor reiterates year round). Slow Down […]
The Edge Night itself ran flawlessly with a very empowering proclaim about the different between needs and wants in our lives. It even featured a PowerPoint of different pictures to help keep the youth engaged; it was spot on. When we got to the time for small groups I was really excited because it had been such a great talk I was sure they would have lots to say.
So after asking the question, “What do you remember most from the talk?” I was bombarded with a deafening silence only broken by a few less than inspiring answers.
Youth Ministry isn’t a one-man show, but don’t we act like it sometimes? As youth ministers I think we all have a tendency to buy into the lie that unless we have our hands in everything in someway then we’re not doing our job. You are human and you can only do so much. Do not be afraid to ask for help. What can you give to your Core team to take off your plate? Can you ask a few parent volunteers to come in and help you do some cleaning and organizing?
It is that time again. It seem like every year that you sit down with your Core team or adults in the parish and discuss how to afford taking your teens on an upcoming trip. Bake sale? Car wash? Please don’t say we are selling frozen pizzas again.
Fundraising can seem like a burden that you didn’t sign up for when you took the job. You are a youth minister, you want to spend your time with the teens and help build faith and community at your parish, right?
This time of year, I start meeting with my Core Team to find out their intentions for the upcoming year. It’s a time of stress and worry – wondering who will choose to stay, who wants to leave, and who is interested in coming aboard. Core Member recruitment and retention can be one of the most important aspects for a youth minister to consider. When Core Members choose to stay – it’s a testament to your program and provides continuity and stability as your teens go from year to year.
This week at Edge we did the Edge Night from the Social Justice semester entitled Life is Wonderful. It is a night all about the dignity of the human person addressing some specific topics such as abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty. At first I was a little leery as to how this topic would […]
Here’s 5 things that every youth leader needs to say often to teens.
Warning! This is as shocking as a God who is willing to die for the same people who nailed Him to the cross, a.k.a. you and me. If you are not willing to die for your youth, either: A) Quit Youth Ministry B) Get on your knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament If your […]
It’s that time of year for me where I’m fiercely recruiting CORE members, planning life nights, retreats, events, oh my! There are so many to dos at this time of year. And, this blog is about none of those things. It’s about an equally important list of things we forget to do in the hustle […]
There are a few reasons why I really like being an Edge Core Member. One of them being, I have finally found a direct answer to my prayers for an increase in humility. Seriously, if you ever want a little dose of being grounded from your self proclaimed coolness, just try to talk to a […]
Community service is the giving of ourselves to help others rather than a “project completed” or “hours counted.” As Jesus said, “For the Son of Man also came not to be served, but to serve”‚Ä® (Mark 10:45). Below is a list of simple ways youth can reach out, make a connection and help others in […]
Part of the reason I got into youth ministry is to play games. Games are a great chance to help you bond with teenagers and kill extra time at the end of a Life Night or while waiting somewhere with your teens on a summer trip. So, I present to you my top five favorite […]
In ministry, it can be hard to separate our worship from our work. We want to ensure that our teens have prayerful experiences, but sometimes that means we lose sight of the beauty of the worship right in front of us. We allow ourselves to be Marthas so our teens and core can have Mary […]
We need to remember the real effectiveness of our ministry to young people is based on prayer. As youth ministers we must be people of prayer first, not just for our ministries, but also for our spiritual well being and the well being of the young people we are serving. Summer allows amazing opportunities to connect and go deeper.
We’ve all had moments when we’ve had to blindly trust our Lord. When our lives seemed to be in a cloud and we couldn’t even see our hand in front of our face. Those moments when we’ve wondered “why?” and we’ve wanted to give up. When we’ve doubted our pilot and His ability to know what is on the other side of that cloud.The next time your life seems to be turbulent and your pilot has just flown into a cloud with lightning in the distance, remember that He’s got this. That He knows where He’s taking you. Trust Him. Invite Him into your doubts. Into your Questions. Into your Emotions. Into your uncertainty.
It’s summer time and that means it’s time for the summer camp, conference and work camp experience! In all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for your parish’s annual trip, make sure you do not leave home without the following: Duck tape: If youth ministers had a utility belt, this would be in the […]
Ever ridden on the back of a large ship and gazed at the wake it left in the sea? In many ways our ministry with young people is leaving a wake with large and small ripple effects. If we judge our ministry by the fruit it bears, the highest mark or waves we make for […]
Ôøº We’re coming up on that exciting time of year – new beginnings in youth ministry. Over the next few months, countless parishes around the country will be bringing on new youth ministers – some of them will have had experience, and others may not. Regardless, when youth ministers walk into parishes, we often make […]
If you’re anything like me, you feel a little stressed in youth ministry right now. The number of teens faithfully attending is declining, summer events still need planning, Confirmation is happening (or just happened), graduating teens are politely demanding letters of recommendation, and there’s still this little thing called life. Add all of that up […]
Reflecting on the parable of the workers in the vineyard, I am drawn to which worker I more often resemble as a youth minister. Do I serve without reservation and gladly accept what God gives me? Or do I grumble most of the time and keep asking for more? When we are the grumbling workers […]
About a week ago, I was privileged to join the Life Teen staff for Chick-Fil-A Leadercast. We heard amazing talks about leadership and of course, ate some tasty chicken. Many things resonated with me throughout the day, but one speaker said something that completely blew me away. It was a quote that I have not […]
1. ) Life Teen Summer Missionaries began 2 intense weeks of training at Life Teen Camp Covecrest in Tiger, GA in preparation for round one of Summer Life Teen Camps! 2.) 6 Atlanta parishes have signed on to implement our new Life Teen Intentional Discipleship in the fall utilizing Life Teen full time missionaries. This […]
There have been two times this past month that the word “always” has brought me to tears (which isn’t all that difficult, ask my teens). But seriously, one word doesn’t usually evoke that kind of emotion. Maybe it wasn’t the word itself, but what it stood for. Talking to one of my juniors after a […]
Summer in youth ministry – it’s flipping sweet. While much of the parish seems to be slowing down and relaxing, summer is when youth ministry hits high gear. Why? Teens are off of school and looking for things to do! During the school year, we’re competing with everything from homework overload to play and choir […]
“Hi Kenn, I need to talk to you about last night’s teen life event. Can you call me?” Ever get that phone message in your voicemail? I love working with parents, but that voicemail always sends a chill down my spine and immediately gets me asking “what could they possibly want? And what if it’s bad feed back?”
iPhone games are the best. Angry Birds, Plants Versus Zombies, Infinity Blade, Fruit Ninja, Temple Run – the list of our favorite games to play on our phones could go on and on. It’s really convenient to pull out my phone and be entertained while waiting in line somewhere, or for a few minutes at home before we’ve got to saddle up to head out somewhere.
What about those hard to reach teens who you have asked multiple times to attend events. Have you ever reached that point where it just didn’t seem worth it and you felt like you needed to do something more direct to try and draw them in? Last night while talking to one of our amazing […]
My pastor recently got me hooked on a book called “Rebuilt” by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran. The book chronicles their attempts to “re-build” their parish located in Timonium, Maryland. And, they’ve had a lot of quantifiable success. In their years since launching their efforts, they’ve rebuild their parish from a weekend attendance of 1,400 people to over 4,000 people. White and Corcoran are very upfront in saying their problems and solutions are not applicable in every parish. But, it certainly got my wheels turning about how I can be doing better ministry. These are the things that stood out to me as I read “Rebuilt.”
Let’s face it, there can be no less thankful role in parish ministry than the youth leader or coordinator. With comments from parents asking you to do more and preach less to parish staff members wondering what you do all day, it can be a thankless role. I really don’t know of many youth leaders […]
On a recent visit to a local coffee shop to meet with a youth ministry friend, I was amazed to count that there were 52 people in the shop at 2 pm. Of the 52 people only my friend and I were having a face to face conversation. All 50 other people were sipping coffee […]
Making environments for retreats and life nights are some of my favorite parts of youth ministry. They really take a good life night to the next level and add some “wow!” factor when teens walk in the room. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend a lot of money to make a killer environment. However, times are changing and my Church is looking at greatly shrinking our budgets. How can youth ministry keep providing great environments for teens at a fraction of a cost? My solution is to build a few life night set-ups that I can reuse with elements I can swap in and out.
If there is one leadership skill that makes leaders stand out, it’s their ability to “work a room” or simply to step outside themselves and acknowledge most if not all people wherever they are. Recently while visiting a parish I asked a teen how he got involved in Life Teen? He simply looked at me […]
Who are the men and woman who stay at home and eat dinner without his or her spouse every Sunday during Life Night? Who bathes the children and puts them to bed before the Life Night ends? Who prays as much, if not more, for the teens who are in the youth group? Who stands […]
Teens – and adults – are being swallowed up and spit out by a secular humanist, morally relativist culture. People have forgotten a fundamental truth about sin: namely, that God did not give Adam and Eve the right to decide what was good and evil (subjective); in His mercy, He gave them the right to choose between good and evil (objective).
In fact, that’s why I became a youth minister. I knew it would be tough, but I was up for the challenge. (And, well, I wanted a gangsta job where I could use a handheld microphone regularly.)In reality, nine years of youth ministry taught me a lot about myself, but perhaps the biggest thing it showed me is that I’m not as brave as I thought. If I’m honest, there were a lot of times when…
This is great motivation for outreach. We can never be satisfied with how many teens we have at our Life Nights or at our retreats, we always need to be reaching out to and sharing the Gospel with more. We always need to go after that one. But what happens if that one decides they aren’t interested? Or what happens if that one is a teen that was really involved, but suddenly disappears and you start hearing about all of their unholy exploits? What happens when that really involved senior goes to college and becomes an atheist?
This is the holiest time of the year. Yet, the headline of Christ’s death and resurrection has been usurped by the two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court related to the definition of marriage. The conversation about homosexuality and same-sex marriage has reached a sort of frenzy as people have waited in line to get a seat at the Supreme Court, as reporters have tried to guess what the justices are thinking, and as everyone’s comments and opinions have taken over social media. Despite how common this issue is right now, it can be a difficult one to address with our teens because it is such a polarized topic. We do our youth an injustice if we never talk about it, though. They need to know what the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality and marriage, and why the two don’t go together.
Any good series must eventually come to an end. Lord of the Rings, Rocky, and Seinfeld all eventually had to conclude, which means, yes, one day we will all face the depressing reality that the same fate will plague Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. (I’ll give you second to let the sink in.) Okay. Hopefully […]
As corny as the jokes may be, I learned several years ago that they can be an effective way of breaking the ice in an otherwise awkward group of middle school and high school teenagers. After all, nothing says, “I’m way more goofy than you are,” than a really bad joke with a cheesy punch line. So this one is for all of you comedians turned youth ministers, keep up with the bad jokes. Trust me, one day you are going to overhear that teen who stared at you blankly telling one of his friends, “Okay, so two fish were in a tank . . . ” And if they can remember a cheesy joke like that, just think about what they'll remember about Jesus.
So when it came to looking fashionable as a youth minister, I had no hope. I had no desire to grow a goatee, wouldn’t let skinny jeans within a mile of my closet, and wouldn’t wear plaid if I were paid to play on the PGA Tour. As a youth minister, this evidently put me in the minority. I even used to get stared at during training conference by groups of youth ministers who appeared to be thinking, “What’s wrong with you? You’re not one of us.”
Praise God for my car! And even though it was held together with a couple clothespins and some paperclips, it served as a great mobile storage unit. Where else was I supposed to keep those buckets of Red Vines before the big Fall Kickoff? And while towing around ten boxes of Bibles for Confirmation Candidates in my trunk for two months didn’t do much for my miles per gallon, it was just more convenient.
So as adults we find another way to celebrate the season: Christmas parties. Unfortunately, most Christmas parties are best described as a bunch of adults standing around and talking to each other while eating cheese and crackers and trying to avoid that one crazy friend who drove up in a mini van decorated with “antlers” and a “Rudolph” nose. And then of course, you also have to deal with the fact that you know twelve different people throwing a party, but there’s only four weekends in December before Christmas.It’s at this moment, when I praise God for Youth Ministry.The very best Christmas parties I’ve ever been to were at youth groups.
The biggest problem with an app like this is that it allows teens, especially those that are tempted to engage in sexting, to perpetuate a false identity online while also giving them a false sense of security. Once a picture is taken and texted to another person it can’t just “disappear forever.” The receiver of the message could take a screenshot of their phone or take a picture of their phone with another device. Plus, there’s the reality of it going through Snapchat’s servers as well.
So, how do these stories relate?Maybe it’s because we’re all God’s children. Perhaps it has to do with being obedient to our Father. Or maybe the love parents have for their kids is similar to the unconditional love God has for all of us.As a parent of a 7-month old now, I can definitely say that last one is true. I’ll do anything to bring my son closer to Christ, and I hope that one day, there is a youth minister with enough guts to do the same.
But for some reason it does, and all of us youth ministers are better off for it. After all, when teens know the rules and follow the rules, it allows them to enter into the most important rule of all: to keep an open heart for the weekend.And if it takes SpongeBob to get that across, well, so be it.
Honestly, if I could do it all over again, I would have been more intentional about engaging in Parish Staff Meetings. Not only were they a great opportunity to be an advocate for the youth, but they were a chance to genuinely take an interest in the work of my fellow staff members. Maybe if I had done that, they would have taken a greater interest in my ministry.
For any youth minister, there is nothing like watching a teen come to understand God’s unconditional love for them. There is nothing like seeing a group of teens in line for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And there is nothing like knowing that a teen who just went off to college knows that the God of the universe is truly present in the Eucharist in any Catholic Church they attend.
I miss those bus rides. As terrifying as it was to be in charge of 64 people, it was so humbling that God had put me there to keep them safe so He could do His work. And on some of those bus rides people did get sick, and the A/C once went out, and we did get a flat tire that forced us to play a solid three hours of cheesy youth ministry games. But through it all there was great relational ministry, lots of laughs, and conversion.
There’s just something about a handheld microphone that gives you instant credibility as a youth minister. Maybe it’s because you can have the loudest voice in the room. Maybe it’s because it allows you to have better command of your youth group. Maybe it’s because it makes you look like some sort of youth ministry gangsta even when that battery cover is held together with 2 rolls of duck tape.
There is nothing that evokes a wider ranger of emotions than walking into a high school lunchroom. You both feel simultaneously bold, apostolic, timid, and self-conscious: “Wow, I’m just like the Apostle Paul walking into the Areopagus about to preach Christ . . . wait, are those football players judging me? Oh boy, where am I supposed to sit? What if no one wants to sit with me? I gotta get out of here!”