The National Catholic Youth Organization Federation (predecessor of the NFCYM) published the results of a symposium held in 1980 that was entitled Hope for the Decade: A Look at the Issues Facing Catholic Youth Ministry. As this was the year that I entered parish youth ministry and I have now recently returned to the same AND I found an old copy as I took full ownership over my new office and cleaned the bookshelves… I thought we might engage in a webposium series of articles looking at the issues then (with a pull-quote from the book) as well as now. Please add your own perspective on what we are facing in the present and future and how much or little we have actually grown as a field.
FAMILY: Intergenerational Ministry with Youth
THEN: The suggestion of youth minister as celebrant is intended, not in the liturgical sense, but as one who affirms both parents and young people. A celebrating youth minister rejoices with the family at all events of growth: confirmation, graduation, retreats, obtaining one’s drivers’ license, etc. Ministry to families at these special times means enabling all family members to see these events as blessings and to praise and thank God for them.
NOW: Our understanding of family continues to be culturally redefined and re-understood. I think we can adjust it or our purposes to be those who are parents and guardians for the well being and nurturing of others, especially the young people with whom we serve. We can understand that that has always been a challenging task and it continues to get even harder.
We can acknowledge that kids are phenomenally busy… Who do we imagine is chauffeuring them from school to sport to lesson to (occasionally) youth group? We have already offered self-reflection on the complaint of drive-by parenting and spoke of attitude adjustment, but let’s speak more to the problematic implications of our work that is not for a generation but for the generations.
We must find ways to provide resources for parents to not only assist them in rejoicing with the family the events of growth but also in their roles as the spiritual head(s) of the domestic church. We’ve got to develop these resources; a publisher will not be soon releasing them as there is no present market for them. If this is to occur, we will need to be expanding the box of our ministry and reach the fringes beyond our typical configurations of ministry.
What are the ways in which we equip parents to be the first evangelists and first catechists in there homes? How do relieve being a source of additional stress from families by providing necessary information and communication via tech instead of adding one more thing to their schedules with a mandatory meeting? Where can we making the next change in our ministry to support these goals? Most especially, who will lead the way on all this?
Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and their College Transition Project have helped identify that intergenerational relationships are one key to building lasting faith in students, what they refer to as “stickiness.” Their research indicated that:
- Involvement in all-church worship during high school is more consistently linked with mature faith in both high school and college than any other form of church participation.
- The more students serve and build relationships with younger children, the more likely it is that their faith will stick.
- High school seniors don’t feel supported by adults in their congregations.
- By far, the number-one way that churches made the teens in our survey feel welcomed and valued was when adults in the congregation showed interest in them.
Research now confirms the convictions of then. In a time where it might be get easy to get bogged down in pessimistic views of America’s Changing Religious Landscape, Hope is on the horizon… and that hope is found in you and the ways that you / we figure out how to ensure that all the generations are involved in our ministry to a generation.
Join the webposium! What are your thoughts on where we are at as a youth ministry field in addressing parish renewal and moving towards a community of believers.