When I started at a parish a while back, I was told that last year a typical youth night had about 100-150 teens. That’s great. No, that’s awesome!
But they had 100-150 teens at a typical youth night 2 years ago as well. And 3 years ago. That takes away some of the awesome-ness. No, that takes away a lot of the awesome-ness.
There are some people that are happy about being consistent like that. Ecstatic that they are bringing in as many people as the week before. That somehow if they continue to get the same result, they’re doing something right.
But it’s not that they’re doing something right, it’s that they’re doing something the same. They’re catering to a group of people who already there…catering to the community that already exists. But is that what we’re supposed to do? Is that what Jesus did? Did He just cater to the Twelve?
When we started at that parish, the other newly hired youth minister, Ryan Krivanek, said something that reeked of truth: “A community that isn’t directed outward and building up people outside of their community, is no longer a community but a clique.”
So often, especially in ministry and even more so in the Catholic Church, we keep doing what we’ve always done to make sure we don’t scare off the people that have always been coming. We’re worried that if we do something different, if we do something that takes them out of their comfort zone, something that goes against what they want/prefer Church to be like, that they’ll flee. But so what…
Jesus wasn’t afraid to shake things up. Jesus wasn’t afraid to go against the norm. He wasn’t afraid to expect things of His followers that they weren’t used to–things that they probably would have preferred not to do.
People in Catholic ministry in particular, are so afraid of doing something new. So afraid of change. Even if that change reaches a whole new group of people. But for some reason we don’t seem to put much value in evangelization. We don’t put much value in reaching the lost–those people who NEED the Church.
When it comes to ministry, I’m all about shaking things up. We should be reaching out to the lost. We should be bringing people back to the Church. We should be doing it, and I’m sorry if that offends you. I’m sorry if a change like that scares you. But we need to be doing what Jesus would do.
“I’m more concerned about connecting with lost people for the sake of the Gospel, than coddling Christians for the sake of their preferences.” (Steven Furtick)
Strong words. But an even stronger God. I hope my life and my ministry live up to both.