Nine months ago my husband and I packed up our lives and headed south to Atlanta following God’s call to serve teens through Life Teen in a full time capacity. While it certainly hasn’t been without its struggles, it’s been a wonderful and a truly blessed experience to get to know the amazing youth ministers and Core that selflessly serve teens.
Across the board as I talk with many of you and listen to your joys and struggles, I hear consistently of a deep desire to have a vibrant, effective youth ministry in your parishes. Often in that same conversation I hear the difficulties of working with “volunteers” and the challenges that that brings. More often than not at the heart of the problem is not having spent the time properly “recruiting” Core Members and adequately preparing them for the ministry they are about to undertake.
There certainly is no laziness or lack of care in this oversight – just the opposite in fact. Often, in our excitement and anxiousness to get started, we beg for ‘helpers’ to get started and then dive right in without adequately preparing our Core Members and setting them up for success.
Taking the time to prayerfully recruit, select, train and nurture your Core Team will pay big dividends in the long run. Here are some things that you already know to do but may not be making the time for. Don’t skip these steps!!
Before you ask a single person to join the Core Team, spend time before the Blessed Sacrament asking God to put people in your path that are called to this ministry. Put this intention on every prayer network available in your parish. Not only will this cover your ministry in prayer, it will also help you develop the relationships you need to with potential Core Members and people of the parish.
Create a culture of youth ministry at your parish
Everyone from the pastor to the teens should be in the know when it comes to youth ministry happenings. Reinforce the truth that you are a coordinator of youth ministry and it’s your job to coordinate the gifts and talents of the parish to serve the teens. Alert the parish council, the Knights of Columbus, and other important ministries of your mission to lead teens closer to Christ.
Use the Core Interview and Core Covenant tools to help you discern whether or not God is calling potential Core Members to this ministry. This step is often skipped as it is generally a radical departure from the typical “desperate for anyone to help me” mentality often times found in ministry. However, it is so important to find out why someone wants to serve and is he/she striving to live out his/her Catholic faith.
Clearly explain expectations
Core members can become overwhelmed if they don’t clearly understand the responsibilities and expectations of the ministry. This is especially important when transitioning from a traditional classroom model of catechesis to the relational ministry based format of Life Teen. Letting your Core Members know ahead of time what’s expected and helping them achieve those expectations is essential in setting them up for success.
Train them well
Life Teen provides many resources and opportunities to train your Core and keep them sharp. Don’t just throw them into a room with teens and expect that everyone is going to know what to do. Help the Core to understand their role from hospitality at the door, to leadings small groups, to giving a talk. Use the blogs and articles from www.catholicyouthministry.com and training events to support what you are doing in the parish. And know that we are just a phone call away.
Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to setting your Core up for success and for the vibrant, effective youth ministry that will follow!