What You Is and What You Ain’t

Recently, I had an interesting conversation about how we define ourselves.  A friend pointed out that this entire organization seemed to define themselves by what they were not.   We are not  like this, we are not  like that, and therefore, we are different than the rest.  Throughout the fall, my daughter’s high school alma mater unleashed a new ad campaign on highly trafficked billboards throughout the city during the eighth grade  recruitment season that struck a similar tone (see images INDon right.)  I do not know how others interpreted the billboards (and accompanying facebook ads;) but I understood the message as “Hey, we are an all-girls inner-city school building character, as in contrast to those suburban private girls’ school where folks send their little princesses.”

All of which got me wondering… do we program for what we are or what we don’t want to be?  Is our programming forming towards the affirmative or away from the undesirable?

And, who is engaged in making these decisions?  My bet in many cases is that we just do this instinctually rather than as a strategy consciously and transparently selected by shared leadership within the community.

Know  this… I love the ad campaign.  Ir is provocative and challenging, a real discussion starter.  Yet, for a Catholic institution,  one wonders if it still fell just  slightly short of the mark.  While speaking of values and even Christian-adjacent values, it would have been interesting to me to see what the public relations firm could have done with being more explicit about being a faith-based.  And the same is true of us all.

What makes our ministry uniquely Catholic?  Check your instinctual answer against your next few weeks of planned programming. (Not having your next weeks planned is likely  indicative or an unsatisfactory answer.)

How are you forming disciples?

How are you compelling others (your team; the community’s adults, most especially including parents; and, of course, the kids) to their responsibilities to evangelize?

It’s the  new year, early in mid-academic year, and a great time to (re)assess what we is and what we ain’t.

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.



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