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.
YOUTH MINISTERS: Developing Leadership
THEN: Youth Ministers’ style of leadership no longer works. They have become the “center” of the youth ministry and are open to the critique of being a “guru.” The youth minister needs to make a transition in his/her leadership style from a primarily relational and programmatic emphases to an enabling, facilitating style of leadership. This means that the youth minister will “do” less with youth, but increase his/her enablement of leaders for youth ministry
NOW: Good news. Really, good news! I do believe that now we do “get” what we were theorizing / believing back then.
Challenge. We often grumble, mumble, (perhaps even whine) that we would be so much better about this stuff if it were not for our diocesan child protection standards. Stop. Let’s be clear. Child protection is not a problem. It is a needed solution. Our first and foremost important step in developing leadership, to an enabling facilitating style of leadership, is assuring that adults are not only cleared and appropriate to serve alongside of us, but also trained enough to recognize hen other adults are not. We need all the eyes and ears we can get to assure the safety of the kids.
No longer a “guru,” we need to become a facilitator of ministries. My most present metaphor for this position is flight controller. We remain in place assisting both the arrivals in faith as well as the launching points (departures seems inappropriate) for our partners the pilots as well as for all the passengers. We don’t need to fly as much anymore as to provide clearance. Of course, we are also responsible for our own spiritual flights, otherwise our ministry becomes a darken room, elevated above the crowds and masses, with a very limited screen on an overwhelming and life-changing task. Gurus get the spotlight, flight controllers get and take responsibility.
Between the now and then, John Roberto had suggested that we need to figure out non-gathered approaches to ministry, times when we minister without gathering the crowds around ourselves. (Hello, guru.) Since that suggestion, technology has exponentially grown. As church, the Pope has a twitter account and utilizes it well to teach ad share Good News. How can technology assist in forming community, in informing community, in transforming community?
Meanwhile, for those professionals of us on the East Coast of the States, we are seeing restructuring and reconfiguring of what the parish looks like… and, therefore, redefining of what professional ministry looks like. As a profession, we are going to need to take hard looks as what ministry looks like now in this new reality, rather than to cling onto the ministry we knew then.
Join the webposium! What are your thoughts on where we are at as a youth ministry field in addressing the role of Youth Ministers and improving as we develop leadership?