In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Archbishop Cupich wrote an article / editorial describing “the parish of my dreams.” in doing so, he described seven priorities that might assist in measuring parish vitality. Not being above building upon someone else’s hard work, here is my own modifications designed to help define vitality of youth ministry in a parish. We’ll keep Cupich’s headers but define them deeper towards youth ministry.
1) We bring people to Christ: Youth Ministry seeks to evangelize everyone to live more fully as intentional disciples. These intentional disciples are continuously evangelizing others by making known the presence of the Church and Christ’s mercy in the midst of the community. When the Lord commissioned us to “make disciples of all the nations” he did not offer an exemption for youth ministers to limit themselves to kids alone. Our efforts MUST expand to parents, Confirmation sponsors, and all the adults we encounter along the way in our ministry related to young people.
2) We support each other in knowing Christ more deeply: Youth Ministry enables a lifelong process of formation for deepening one’s faith and relationship with Christ by passing on the church’s teaching and Tradition to parishioners of all ages. Any effort that implies a sense of completeness (or graduation) is counter-intuitive towards a “lifelong process.”
3) We encounter Christ and receive nourishment through prayer and worship: Youth Ministry is intentional in engaging in the parish’s culture and tradition of prayer, devotion, and well-prepared liturgy, with the Eucharist as the “Source and the Summit.” When youth ministry goes it completely alone, it implies experiences adolescents will naturally understand that they will mature out of. It is meant to be the “Source and the Summit,” and not just a mere Suggestion.
4) We build bonds among each other to sustain our life in Christ: Youth ministry engages young people into a genuine Catholic community that is conscious of its solidarity in Christ with the entire church of their local diocese and the Universal Church. Young people need a wider set of relationships and a wider vision. We must be responsible for assisting them in establishing mentor / apprentice relationships in faith. Further, they get to see stuff from the Church that is bigger than their own local experience… and it ain’t really bigger if the bigger stuff only matches (is limited to) the spiritualities of their parish or their parish youth leaders.
5) We transform the lives of others through service as Christ’s missionary disciples: Youth Ministry prepares and sends parishioners as missionary disciples into the world to transform society with the joy and truth of the Gospel. We offer service not as a hurdle qualifier for a sacrament or graduation, but as an invitation towards the lifestyle of a disciple.
6) We respond to the call to holiness by journeying together with Christ: Youth Ministry accompanies the baptized on life’s journey to become more Christcentered, resistant to sin, merciful, continually attentive to building a mature, well-integrated adult spirituality, and committed to charity, peace, prayer, and virtue. (Got nothing to add to Cupich here – he’s spot on!)
7) We take responsibility for administration and leadership of the parish as good stewards of the gifts Christ has entrusted to us: Youth Ministry thrives under the visionary leadership of the pastor, who works in collaboration with his associates, staff, and the laity to ensure that the parish’s mission can fully flourish as a result of proper administration. Youth Ministry fosters a culture of stewardship and a spirituality of gratitude that inspires all to generously share the gifts Christ has entrusted to them in support of the mission of the church through the parish, the archdiocese and in the world. (Again, got nothing to add to Cupich here – well said!)
Archbishop Cupich concluded by using some words from Pope Francis in “The Joy of the Gospel.” (See, I am not the only one who builds off of other people’s words!)
I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort
to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion
which cannot leave things as they presently are…
Mere administration’ can no longer be enough.
Throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission.’