Every four months something glorious happened at my parish. I would unsuspectingly enter the youth ministry office in the morning to find something that would radically redefine the next several months. Amidst the piles of permission forms, half-written talks, and empty boxes of pizza it appeared like a colorful beacon of hope in an otherwise dreary and cluttered office:
The Life Support Box (cue angelic choir).
Ok. So perhaps ascribing the title of “beacon of hope” to the annual shipment of Life Teen’s high school resources is a bit lofty. But receiving those boxes full of Life Nights, Liturgy Planning Guides, retreats, and other youth ministry tools did bring new life into my ministry for the next several months. Having quality youth ministry resources at my fingertips saved time, energy, and frustration (for both me and my Core Team). In short, it made ministry a whole lot easier and a lot more fun.
For nearly 8 years I was privileged to be on the “receiving” end of the Life Support shipment. Recently, I was called to the “creating” side of those resources and am excited to serve the movement of Life Teen as Coordinator of Life Support.
My experience as a youth minister made me passionate about quality resources. In preparation for my new ministry I spent a great deal of time praying about what makes a quality resource and why it’s important. Through that prayer I realized what made Life Support so integral to my experience as a youth minister, and why it is so critical for a parish to invest in quality catechetical resources.
Quality resources keep your ministry fresh. I have walked the path of “I am going to write an entire semester of youth nights myself,” and let me tell you, it’s a painfully long and lonely road. My ideas got stale, teens lost interest, and the Core Team got frustrated. Having the Life Support resources always provided a needed boost of inspiration, creativity, and life.
Your ministry needs to be rooted in the Truth. Our Church has beautifully spoken on many things. The depth and breadth of her teaching is immense – way more immense than you may have time to tackle in between parent phone calls, staff meetings, and high school football games. Every Life Night is full of references to the Catechism, Sacred Scripture, and writings from popes, Church Doctors, and Saints. They allow you to implement Life Nights rooted in the Truth without having to sacrifice time doing hours of research.
The world of a teenager changes fast. A catechetical resource written five years ago is already out of date, not because of the teaching it contains but because of how it is presented. Five years ago the iPhone was just a rumor, Twitter was in its infancy, and Lady Gaga hadn’t released her first album. The world of a teen changes rapidly – far more rapidly than we may have time to keep up with. If we want to preach the Gospel to a teen we have to understand where they are coming from. A good resource not only is rooted in the Truth, but also understands the context in which that Truth needs to be spoken. Every new Life Support shipment brings news about the latest teen trends and issues and incorporates them into the Life Nights. So even if you have never sent a tweet, still own an old Nokia 5100, and at one point thought Lady Gaga was a new line of baby clothing, you can still keep up with teen culture.
Not Just Average
The Kingdom of God deserves our best. This is the final and best reason your parish needs quality catechetical resources. Jesus didn’t ask his disciples to go “half-way” in their preaching. He asked that they give it their all. When we invite teenagers to a Life Night we must make sure we are never satisfied with presenting them with an “average” night. The Gospel deserves our best effort and so do the teens that need to hear it. It is a tall order, but with a quality resource (and steadfast prayer) we can rise to the challenge.
I am tremendously excited to serve you in your ministry. At Life Teen we are committed to providing the support and resources you need to make every Life Night, retreat, and youth gathering the very best it can be. Dare I even say that with the right resource your youth gatherings may becoming glimmering beacons of hope in the otherwise cluttered world of a teenager . . . or at least provide many opportunities for conversion and renewal in the life of your parish.