HOPE: Parish Renewal

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 selected pull-quote from the book) as well as our own observations 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. Parish Renewal: Towards a Community of Believers THEN: The development of the adult community is especially critical for evangelization and catechesis. If we want to socialize young people into the Christina faith with the new Christian story, if we want them to grow into a personal, adult; mature faith, if we want them to accept their call to ministry then we need to develop an adult believing community, conscious of its responsibility to be role models for youth. ParishWONOW: It might still be a generational thing, but it is entirely possible that the adult community still intimidates and/or just does not interest us. Instead of embracing them as “especially critical;” we deny responsibility of them by deferring it to another segment of staff or committee. We are ourselves critical of drive-by parenting whose hopefully timely presence in the parking lot before and after or programming is as close as they get to us and us to them. We whimper about inadequate membership of our core teams and adult volunteers. And, therefore, it seems that none of us is growing into a personal, adult, mature faith. And none of us is the problem, but the growing tide of “nones” is. Take your favorite fall-back research reference of the National Study of Youth and Religion, the Pew Research Center, or the Center of Applied Research in the Apostolate out of Georgetown, and all indicators are that “nones,” Americans who are religiously unaffiliated, are increasing significantly in numbers while the Catholic affiliation percentage in the U.S. continues to fall. This is not a situation that youth ministry alone will be able to fix, it is a responsibility of the entire church. I had an old boss who would claim the standard line of “Youth are not the future of the Church, they are part of the Church now” but then add “But without youth in the Church now, we will not have a future.” And the language of Church renewal now is discipleship. Youth Ministry must engage in the work of discipleship, not just for adolescents but of the whole community. The Great Commission calls for us to make disciples of all the nations. We, of the Youth Ministry tribe, would reject that age would be a qualifier in that call when it comes to “our kids.” But we need to recognize we might unconsciously make age a qualifier in our ministry when it comes to adults. “Our kids” need to have an adult believing community, conscious of its responsibility to be role models for youth. We need expand our vision, planning, communication reach, and programming to reflect that or without those somethings added we risk a youth ministry that is satisfied being a none-thing. 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?

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D. Scott Miller

D. Scott Miller is the dean of Catholic Youth Ministry bloggers which is a polite way of either saying that he is just plain old or has been blogging for a long time (since 2004.)

Scott recently married the lovely Anne and together they have five adult young people and also grandparent three delightful kids (so, maybe he is just plain old!) Scott presently serves at Saint John the Evangelist in Columbia, MD as the director of youth and young adult ministry.

He has previously served on the parish, regional, diocesan, and national levels as well as having taught within a catholic high school. He is one of the founders of RebuildMyChurch and has returned to posting regularly (keeping regular is important to old guys) at ProjectYM.


D. Scott Miller


D. Scott Miller is the dean of Catholic Youth Ministry bloggers which is a polite way of either saying that he is just plain old or has been blogging for a long time (since 2004.)

Scott recently married the lovely Anne and together they have five adult young people and also grandparent three delightful kids (so, maybe he is just plain old!) Scott presently serves at Saint John the Evangelist in Columbia, MD as the director of youth and young adult ministry.

He has previously served on the parish, regional, diocesan, and national levels as well as having taught within a catholic high school. He is one of the founders of RebuildMyChurch and has returned to posting regularly (keeping regular is important to old guys) at ProjectYM.



Questions or Comments?

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