“4-year plan? I don’t even know what I’m doing this Sunday!”
Sound familiar? As much as I hate to admit it, when I was a youth minister the idea of putting together a 4-year, systematic plan for Life Nights seemed unlikely if not impossible. I thought I was doing great if I was planning the Life Night schedule three months in advance. The idea of a “curriculum” seemed more appropriate for a classroom than a youth ministry program, and while Life Teen encouraged it, I didn’t do it. I was wrong.
We as youth ministers are called to bring young people into full communion with Christ and His Church. The fullness of God’s revelation necessitates just that: fullness. True catechesis must include the fullness of the Church’s teachings. This is no small task – to help our teens become faithful Catholic young adults, we must be attentive to the formation of both their head and their heart.
In a Life Teen program curriculum does not equal classroom. The Life Night model provides a dynamic and engaging format to teach the faith. Each Life Night combines elements of evangelization with catechesis (formation of head and heart). Having a well planned, systematic curriculum of Life Nights simply ensures that teens attending 4 years of Life Nights will experience the big picture of faith and not the “same couple of topics” over and over again.
And Now a Word From Our Bishops
Several years ago, the USCCB Catechetical Committee began work on a framework for high school catechesis. The goal of this framework is to give textbook publishers, high school teachers, catechists and youth ministers a standard of what high school students should be learning. After many years of work, and many revisions, it is ready to be voted on by the Bishops in November 2007. This document reminds us that catechesis and formation of our young people is a high priority for our Bishops and our entire Church. This Curriculum Framework is a powerful tool for everyone who is involved in ministry to young people.
Life Teen Resources & Curriculum Planning
How do you take a Curriculum Framework from the Bishops, implement it in your Life Teen program, and still have time to do ministry? How do you balance evangelization and catechesis? It is not easy. Life Teen is here and we want to help. The most recent Life Support box had a book called “Curriculum Guide: Scripture Semester.” This is the first of 8 books that will take the USCCB Curriculum Framework and present the material in Life Night format. These Life Nights, along with the Life Nights on Scripture that Life Teen has published previously, will provide you the foundation for an engaging and powerful semester. Every 4 months you will receive another Curriculum Guide with a different semester topic. By September 2009 you will have a complete 4-year, 8-semester curriculum at your fingertips.
Making it Work at Your Parish
Receiving the Curriculum Guide book(s) is just the start. It has to be adapted to meet the needs and resources of each parish. It is the job of the youth minister (along with the pastor and leadership team) to create the 4-year plan, as well as plan the individual semesters.
- Creating the 4-year plan. The youth minister meets with the pastor and decides the topics and the order of the semester themes. The order that we will present the Curriculum Guides is the suggested order from the Bishops, but your curriculum does not necessarily have to follow this order. The most important thing is to include the entirety of catechetical information, the full deposit of the faith. Below is the tentative plan for the Curriculum Guide topics:
- Person of Christ
- Paschal Mystery
- Social Justice
- Planning an individual semester. Once the overall theme for the semester is set, the youth minister needs to plan out the individual Life Nights in the semester. In order to keep the Life Nights relevant and fun, issue and social nights are added into the semester. Typically within a month of Life Nights, there are 2 Educational nights, 1 Issue and 1 Social. It is important that the planning of Life Nights remains relevant to what is going on in the life of the teens, the community and the life of the Church. In Spotlight, another resource in Life Support, we provide Issue and Social nights that can be added into the semester plan. Another great tool to use in your semester planning is ym.lifeteen.com. Here you can look through all the Life Nights by type, by topic, and by theme.
It can seem like a daunting task – planning a curriculum for your program. But we at Life Teen want to make it a little easier for you. We pray that these resources can enable you and your team to spend a little less time planning and a little more time with teenagers.
Thank you for your ministry. Know that you and your teens are in our prayers.