For many of us who work in youth ministry, Pope John Paul II was a shepherd and father like none other. His love and affection for young people led thousands to the faith. His devotion to the Eucharist and Mary showed us how to live in God’s love. His courage to stand for justice brought […]
Think about all the obstacles we go through in our day-to-day ministry. We live in a world of late sign-ups, last minute changes, double bookings, paper jams, and did I forget to say #TechnologyProblems? Moreover, we venture into the teenage jungle of low self-esteem, depression, and even suicide. There’s an endless amount of things that can go wrong in our ministry to teens and the easiest thing we can do is give up. However, if we take the call of Jesus seriously, we must be immersed in the messiness of life.
The days of Lent are quickly coming to an end, what has this Liturgical Season been like for you? Have you taken time to truly enter into your Lenten fasting and spiritual growth? Or has it just been another blur of a month in the midst of all your busy parish programming?
That’s the story of my life. God proves His love for me, and by the next scene, I’m wondering who He is. Yet somehow my forgetfulness doesn’t deter Him, and He sets out again each day to win my heart.
Often in youth ministry, it feels like we’re trying to come up with catchy semester themes and culturally relevant tie-ins to repackage the same simple message. Our retreats and events keep revolving around the counter-cultural reality that God is a loving Father who wants to provide for us, His children.
To say the least, I was ecstatic. The Core Team was shocked and the kids beyond excited! Stuff like this just doesn’t happen every day.
The visit itself was grand. The youth decorated hand-made posters welcoming him and escorted him to our gymnasium where he was greeted with applause. Our Bishop spent an entire hour answering every last question these young people had. He joked with them, shared his favorite sport (which is college football), how he discerned the vocation of Holy Orders, and his first meeting with Pope Francis.
I know that there are many spouses out there who may be less than interested in being your Core Member or your go to date to all the youth’s extracurricular events, but for Joe and I it is a little bit different. Since we both love and understand the importance of youth ministry we have experienced many blessings and many struggles. While I would not change our situations for the world, there are a few things that we do, and would suggest, so that ministry does not take over our marriage.
Teens who had never been to Eucharistic Adoration before and had run from the very notion of encountering Jesus now lined up to stand face to face, nose to nose, with Jesus in the monstrance and to be introduced to him and prayed with. Sins were renounced. Hearts were healed. Teens that had turned their back on the faith now clutched the humeral veil and kissed the monstrance with tears in their eyes. A brother and sister who had lost their dad now felt the love of the Father. Young men in the clutches of sexual sin resolved to step up and out of their lust. Young women who had been hiding from love finally opened their hearts perfect Love.
Do you remember Fonzie? From Happy Days? He was my hero as a child. He had awesome hair and a strong personality that showed he was calm, yet always in charge.
I’ll always remember the way he carried himself, from his shiny leather jacket, to the way he turned on the juke box by pounding it just right with his fist. Fonzie was the poster child for what seemed to be a perfect life. Any fears or insecurities he had were safely masked beneath the hard surface of his gelled hair and his Harley.
I was forced to ask myself, does my pastor know I’m Catholic? What about the rest the staff? If someone walked in off the street, knowing nothing about the Catholic faith or what all those crosses and stained glass stand for, would they think that this was anything but just another office?
Not everyone is going to understand youth ministry, or why we do what we do even if we don’t have thousands of teens flooding the doors, but that’s okay. It shouldn’t deter us from the great mission we’ve been called to, and if you are feeling defeated, or undervalued, just remember that even Jesus experienced persecution.
Without doubt, the fruits of what God has allowed to happen at our parish have come from those seeds of prayer, planted by those original 13 “prayer warriors.” Now, that ministry has doubled in size (not counting all the nursing home residents, visited by some of those warriors, who are also praying for us). Anytime we face a need, an adversity… those “prayer warriors” are there to lift up the ministry and the teens.
In hopes to provide a way to facilitate a discussion about this film, we’ve created a resource for you to use with your youth. The goal of this resource is to break down the themes of suffering, brokenness, and hope, as well as, help the youth see that God is always present even in the worst of circumstances.
To keep it Catholic, let’s acknowledge we’re a bit ahead of the game on the New Year. Why? Because our new year started back in December (living liturgically folks!)! But, let’s jump on the bandwagon of January 1st in popular culture because who doesn’t need a reason to get goal oriented again?
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.
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.”
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 […]
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.