…then do youth ministry.
I know of no more important ministry at a parish than youth ministry. Current statistics reveal that teens that are not involved in their parish have over a 90% chance on not being a practicing Catholic later in life. Youth ministry plays a critical role for our Church as a main way to have teens involved at a parish. So if you feel a pull or calling toward youth ministry here are some things to consider.
You can learn many skills from reading books, attending classes and following the latest blogs – youth ministry is learned primarily by jumping in and doing youth ministry. You don’t need to quit your job – simply go to your local parish and volunteer to help with youth ministry. Sure you’ll need to clear the safe background checks, go through safe environment trainings and possibly get signed up for diocesan certification etc., but the best way to learn youth ministry is by jumping in and doing it. Here are a few kickstart ideas:
- Live an authentic Catholic life and share your faith with teens.
- Attend a youth event, meet teens and learn their names.
- Head to the chapel and pray for the teens you meet.
- Attend Mass and talk to any teens you see.
- Go to school sports events and be present to teens and their families.
- Organize a teen work or service day for your parish.
- Start a weekly Bible Study for teens at your parish.
- Organize a trip to a Catholic Camp, Youth Conference or NCYC.
- Set up a volleyball net in your Church parking lot and invite teens to come and hang out.
- Head to the local mall, coffee shop or wherever teens in your area hang out and invite them to come to Mass.
- Invite teens to join you at morning Mass every Friday prior to going to school.
- Be present at Confirmation at your parish.
- Be on Core Team or teach a CCD or Confirmation class to middle school or high school teens.
- Read the USCCB guidelines called “Renewing the Vision” and brainstorm ideas to implement it at your parish.
- Go to lunch at the local high school and meet teens and invite them to get involved at your parish.
If you wait until you are fully trained with a degree or until you have the latest and greatest youth ministry credentials you will delay the inevitable – that youth ministry is learned primarily by doing it. Nothing inspires you more in youth ministry than spending time with teens. So get over the part of intimidation of not being totally ready, and jump in. The teens and your parish need you. There will be time and of course a need to grow in your youth ministry skills and knowledge. As I reflect on my 23 years in Catholic youth ministry the best thing I did was to jump in. I was scared, naive and overwhelmed – but it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done. So if you want to learn youth ministry….then do youth ministry and always keep the perspective that it is God who is doing the great things, we are simply His servants.
So go talk to your pastor, DRE or youth minister and tell them you’ll help – what are you waiting for?