Ever wonder if what you are doing is reaching teens? Here is a list of things that I consider to be out of date for Catholic Youth Ministry:
1. Marathon Talks / Teachings –
Teens expect us know that they don’t want to sit and listen to a long talk or teaching (either do adults for that matter). They zone out much quicker these days. Teens are so used to switching gears and topics that they appreciate it when we utilize media and other visual props to bring home a point. Try to keep teachings at Retreats and Life Nights under 10 minutes long and limit the number points in your talk to a maximum of 3 main ideas. Try to engage the teens and give them time to talk as well.
2. Cheesy Skits -
Want to set the wrong tone for a retreat or Life Night – start it off with an awkward and cheesy skit. Teens appreciate the effort but most tell me they would rather get to the main topic and have a talk about Christ and how they can grow in Holiness. We spend so much time setting things up sometimes with crazy skits that we often squeeze out critical time of prayer and small group discussions.
3. Good Ole’ Catholic Guilt
Teens don’t want you to tell them or remind them how messed up they are – they want hope. Teens aren’t so much motivated by guilt these days. We are called to be companions on a journey with teens and encouragers of a strong life for Christ. For example telling them about the freedom of going to confession rather than guilting them into going.
4. Spiritual Muzak -
You know when you are in an elevator or store and there is music always playing. It used to be that we felt we always had to have something going on for the teens to focus. Teens no longer need to always have someone talking or music playing especially during times of Eucharistic Adoration. Today’s teens are being drawn into more contemplation and find it countercultural to be silent. Teens often comment that they wish there would have been more silent times on the retreat or during prayer time. Fight the urge to always provide the equivalent of spiritual muzak for teens.
5. Hand Motions
I know I will take some grief for this one, but I have watched the excited teens be into the motions and the teens who are new and needing to be reached be turned off by many of the hand motions that parishes are encouraging teens to do. I am all about participation, but hand motions are no longer “in” with a portion of teens. Often times hand motions happen spontaneously by a group of teens starting them, by all means allow the Spirit to move. A word of advice – be careful that those moments are coming from the teens and not something we are trying to manufacture. Each community has different charisms – if hand motions are part of that and it is the norm, disregard this out of date item. If you are new and looking to start having teens do hand motions, pray about that and make sure it is what you need to be doing.
That’s my list – Agree or Disagree? Anything else that you would like to add to the list?