The core of something is the center of it. You can’t have an apple without a core, where would the seeds come from? And a baseball with out a core is just an odd leather bag. Have you ever noticed that the core of something is usually the hardest part?
The truth is the Core Team in Life Teen is the same as the Core of a baseball or an apple. It is vital; it is a place where seed of faith come from, and it is also one of the hardest parts. Finding and keeping good consistent Core can sometimes feel impossible and frustrating. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Finding and forming Core Members can be one of the best, most sustaining parts of your work in parish youth ministry, I know it has been for me. For the last six years I have been blessed with and incredible and incredibly consistent Core Team. Not only have I been blessed, but the teens at our parish have been blessed as well. If you are struggling with keeping a consistent Core Team, then this blog is for you. And not just this blog – this is part one of a three part series. Each part will cover one some points that have really helped me. Some of this falls under the category of “Duh” and other parts you might find a little hard to swallow. So, take what you want and you get the rest for free.
1. Core Team = Core Ministry
As the director/Coordinator/youth minister (whatever you call yourself) your job is the Core Team. I know this is teen ministry, but you really should not be spending all your time with teens. I mean it. If you are going to do this right you actually need to spend most of your energy reaching an entirely different group: the Core. (Before you call me a heretic, just keep reading) Yes, Life Teen is youth ministry, but there is no way that one person can reach the number of teens that are out there. It is impossible. Maybe, if you are good, you can really connect with twenty (I mean really connect, not just recognize). Twenty is great, but what about the rest of the teens out there? Who will reach them? Who will walk with them?
The Core Members will. And you will walk with the Core. I am not talking about a head nod in the direction of your Core. I am talking about some serious investment of time, energy and prayer. You may be the coordinator of youth ministry at your parish, but your heart needs to be in Core ministry. Think of it this way, you are the Core minister, and the Core Members are the youth ministers (and hopefully then the teens are peer ministers, or Edge ministers, and on and on)
Take a look at your calendar. How much time do you have on it devoted to the Core? Not much? Maybe it is time to change that. It might even mean you will have to cut back on some of the other things you are doing with teens. In the short term it will be very hard, but long term it is going to pay off. Trust me on this. Your change in focus will enable a much larger group, your Core, to direct their focus towards the teens.
Start looking for ways to minister to your Core. All the same things you would do to reach out to your teens applies here. All the awesome relational ministry strategies apply. Each summer the Core at our parish goes camping in Yosemite National park. There is no goal other than enjoying each other and the beauty of God’s creation. We bring our kids, and those Core Members who have kids bring theirs. It is a family trip. Starting to get the picture? Core is more than volunteering. At it’s best it is a community (family) that shares the common goal of leading teens into deeper relationship with Christ. The added benefit of this approach is that your team will learn relational ministry from your modeling it in their lives. And they will then have a much better understanding of it. It really is Jesus model of ministry. He spent most of his time with the twelve. Poured His life into them. Why? Because He knew He would be sending them out into the world. So, follow the model. Pour into your Core and then trust them to pour into the teens.
So, there you have it. Core ministry. This one point will do more to help you maintain the Core at your parish than any other. But, this point by itself could also wreck youth ministry in your parish completely. I guess you will have to read the next blog to find out what I am talking about.