I was asked this question many time. A lot of people think youth ministry is about playing games with the youth and somehow filling the pews at church. Oh and it definitely has to be a volunteer job because no one could do that for a living…
It makes me laugh inside when I hear that. I guess I have a different perspective on youth ministry than most people.
Whoever we are or wherever we are in life we are all CALLED TO BE MISSIONARIES and our mission is to SHARE THE LOVE OF GOD with the people we encounter. That being said we are all called to do youth ministry but what exactly is that? It’s not about filling the pews but rather inviting the youth to deepen their relationship with God. Inviting is the key word here.
(In my conversion I talked about a single invitation that changed my life.)
I was probably invited 100 times to deepen my relationship with God but it was 101st that made the difference in my life.
It’s also about getting to know the people in the community. What’s the best way to get to know someone? It’s through the community, through the schools, the parish, the family, friends and most importantly by building a relationship with this person. The same is true with God. How do we encounter God? It’s through our community, our school, our parish, our family, our friends and most importantly by talking to Him. This is true for everyone whether you’re an elder playing bingo, a mom with 3 kids, a senior in search of the love of his life or a 2 year old playing with dolls.
But this means that it’s important to build good healthy relationships with the youth. We have to be vulnerable and hopefully they will be vulnerable with us. We have to show them love. A lot of youth these days are in search of love because they don’t get enough of it at home. (Love is a tough thing to find and I still struggle with it) But if we show love to these youth they will most likely feel more comfortable with us and will be open to hear what we have to say. ”They don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” I try to live by this but it’s not easy.
Sometime when we share something it feels like others aren’t listening or paying attention. I can honestly say that I once gave a ‘what is confirmation’ talk. And the whole way through I felt like what I was saying was useless and leading no where. These youth had so much energy, they couldn’t stop talking and moving. (I don’t blame them because it’s not easy to sit and listen at that age… oh the good ol’ days) But we have to trust that God has already planted the seed of faith. We can only water it and offer it sun. After this really frustrating retreat all the youth were heading out and the loudest of youth came up to me. I was actually really nervous because I though he would make this comment about wasting their time but to my surprised it was the complete opposite. I will always remember this youth because it was the first time a youth had actually thanked me to take time out of my day to come and talk to them. I was greatly touched and shed a few tears. I waited ’til all the youth were gone to tell the team and when telling them I shed a few tears.
This was a good reminder that we are doing God’s will and not our own will. We don’t always see the fruit of our ministry but we have to trust that God is working in them even when others or themselves don’t see it.
What I concentrate on my ministry is the love of God and the love of others. Which again can be put in two categories: physical and spiritual. Under physical we have sacraments and service and under relational we have fellowship and prayer.
We need all 4 of these in our life. How do we get closer to God? It’s with prayer and sacraments. How do we get closer to our neighbors? It’s with service and fellowship. I might talk more about this in another post.
Youth groups need volunteers, someone to do the planning, the leading, making the snack (snack are important), the media stuff and so much more. Many people want to volunteer but never know what they could do. If that’s the case just ask them what their gifts and talents are. If they are good at playing music, ask them to lead a song or two. If they are good with computers, ask them to set up for the well anticipated movie night.
We all have gifts and talents and God wants us to share them. How are you sharing your gifts and talents with others?