Perusing the menu at lunch recently, one of our staff commented on one of the menu item’s as “nothing to write home about”. I immediately asked when was the last time he wrote home about something? All day long we use expressions to describe things, how often do we really take literally what we say? What if the restaurant took the mantra to only serve meals that people would want to write home about? What if your parish offered youth ministry that people wanted to write home about?
My wife recently drove two of my teens to a neighboring parish that had a contest where the teen who brought the most friends would win an iPad. My kids were invited by a classmate who goes to that parish and of course wanted to see her win. When our teens returned home, they said it was fun, but lacked depth and basically told me “it was nothing to write home about”. I thought to myself how sad this was, the parish was creative enough to come up with the iPad idea, but when the large group of teens showed up they were left underwhelmed. If this hits too close to home, then take a minute to consider changing what you are doing. Recently a CNN story talked about the growing trend of teens becoming “Fake” Christians just basically going through the motions and looking Christian but in reality not living a Christian life. Check out for the article.
How often do your most committed teens bring friends even without a contest? When is the last time you got a note or email from a parishioner or parent telling you the impact the ministry is having on their teen or family? Have you recently been in a local store and ran into someone who when meeting you told you they had heard great things about youth ministry at your parish? When is the last time you couldn’t fall asleep because you were so excited about something you have planned the next day in youth ministry? These are all signs that things are probably worth writing home about for your ministry.
Reality Check – Most of the time our ministry will go unnoticed, that is part of the journey of youth ministry. If our goal is to get noticed then we have the wrong goal. If our goal is to bring glory to God – then we will inevitably be giving others something worthwhile to write home about. Over the past month I have met 11 priests who all told me they owe their vocation to being part of Life Teen as a teen at a parish. It’s not Life Teen that deserves the credit, but what God is doing through Life Teen at parishes that is getting noticed.
So where is your youth ministry at – are you up to something big, life changing and deep enough to transform or are you serving up “nothing to write home about”? Your answer is important.