Commitment! This word takes on different meanings in every generation. Some people fear it; some embrace it with their entire being. In ministry it is something that we struggle with a lot: teen’s commitment, Core Team’s commitment, staff commitment, even our commitment. When you start talking about everyones different levels of commitment it’s tempting to end up doing what Generation iY does and take some anxiety medication to feel better about our responsibility or lack there of.
There are reasons why each generation either lacks or embraces commitment. It is an issue that affects our religion, work, education and relationships. Unfortunately, because of this, we are raising a generation that emotionally commits based on what is fashionable verses what is true and righteous. If we can build up Core Teams to commit to Christ first and share that commitment to our teens through the Life Teen and Edge movement, we will be re-shaping the next generation and how they commit to their faith, careers and future vocations.
This generation trusts authority, respects rules and is loyal to institutions such as the Catholic Church. Their work ethic is impeccable and will work hard and respect leadership, no matter the age of the leader. Younger youth ministers managing this age group should acknowledge the expertise and knowledge they bring to the Core Team. Their knowledge of Church teachings, vocational commitment, and the love they have for the Church is something the teens need to witness. They have very strong social skills but need to be coached on relational ministry and how to mentor teens, not parent them. Time spent focusing on this aptitude will go a long way in their commitment to the ministry and relationship with teens.
This generation needs goals and a mission that they can believe in and when given that mission will move mountains and remain committed. If there is no mission, they will be disengaged or not participate in ministry at all. This is a very ambitious, flexible, productive, self-sufficient and people-oriented generation but are often over committed. As youth minister, create an opportunities for dialogue, providing a time and place for them to talk confidentially and be mentored. Evaluate where they desire to grow and encourage trainings, retreats, books or conferences where they can gain skills and put them into practice. This will not only affirm them, it will increase their level of commitment and feel a part of a team, not a solo act.
This generation is all about relationships, however, they often lack social skills to maintain those relationships (thanks Facebook and video games). This is a group of young men and women who want to have input immediately verses earn their voice. They want to impress and be recognized since throughout their childhood they have been awarded for just participating. Give them tasks and use the gifts and talents that they have immediately. If they feel overlooked or underappreciated they will leave. However, be careful to not create an ego centered Core member doing things for their glory and not God’s. Sometimes humbling Core with small, simple tasks while still recognizing their completion will aid Gen Y Core to look at their motivation to serve prayerfully. Provide opportunities that bring the Core Team together and build unity; this in turn will strengthen their commitment.
Mentoring Generation iY
You could almost call this the “maybe” generation. Why? Because of their frequent use of the “maybe” button on Facebook. Maybe defines their commitment level. They say yes only when there is nothing better happening. This generation commits to a cause that is fashionable because they get a t-shirt or bracelet to proudly declare what they believe in at the moment.
How we mentor this generation will come from boldly proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ, a truth they can make a commitment to for life. Doing mainly social and issue nights where they debate Church teachings but never commit to living the teachings will only prolong their lack of commitment. Speaking to the “why” we as adults have committed our lives to Christ and His Church will allow the teens to examine why they believe and then help them explore what they believe. The days of teaching in a Baby Boomer fashion of memorization are over and this generation will not commit to a memorized set of prayers and teachings. They will commit to a person (Jesus). Once they encounter Him and know His love is real, merciful, and worthy of their lives they will not only commit but also evangelize others out of love.
Note: Keep in mind that I am not trying to create stereotypes. Everything I mention here are clues into each generation. Although I may not mention every good or challenging attribute, I’m attempting to bring up the things that will help you mentor your Core Team into making a greater commitment to the ministry.