Hello everyone! A new year of youth ministry is upon us and I'm very excited for it to begin. Youth ministry is one of the things I personally enjoy very much, and I'm excited for another year to see our students wrestle with questions of faith and grow as disciples.
Youth ministry is also one of the most challenging ministries, and It's gotten tougher for many reasons. One reason it is difficult is because of the diversity of our students. For example, all of our students have very different impressions of what "fun" is. In other words, what one student believes is a fun activity is a nightmare for a different student. What is enjoyable for one student is boring for somebody else. Thus, conducting a "fun" activity is incredibly difficult to pull off. There just aren't many activities that all the students will enjoy.
Secondly, the knowledge students have about our faith is radically different. Some students are very well catechized, and other students literally have no concept of who God is and have never heard of people like Moses, or Noah, and know nothing about Jesus beyond his name. Thus, teaching our students is difficult. Our presentations will either be too boring and remedial for the more advanced students some students, or completely inaccesible for students with less knowledge about our faith.
We are doing our best to address these on our end, but we can't do it alone. Parents, you can help us by the way you encourage your students to attend. Do not promise your students will have fun, and do not promise that they will learn a lot. For the reasons explained above, they might not get those results (although we would love it if they did!). Rather, encourage your students to attend because they have something to offer the other students.
Our vision for youth ministry in Cowlitz County is for every single middle and high school student in the parish to participate in youth ministry, primarily as a ministry to their peers. This means that we want all of our students to understand that their presence at youth group is primarily (though not exclusively) to benefit somebody else.
We hope our students will offer the time at youth ministry as a sacrifice that benefits their parish, rather than as an opportunity to reap some type of benefit. We hope our students will show up with a mindset that their purpose is to strengthen the faith of their peers and make our parishes better. If every student came with this mindset then many of our challenges would be less burdensome. A talk might be a little remedial for your student, but by listening attentively they teach the other students that the subject is important and worth considering.
I will be the first to admit that not every student has a lot to gain from attending youth ministry. But I want to be the first to tell the students that they all have something to give to their peers. Students have something to offer their peers that I can't offer. Students have somethign to offer their peers that their parents and teachers can't offer.
That being said, I'm excited for what we are going to teach our students this year. We have a great curriculum. This semester, our High School Students will spend a few weeks learning about living life in the fullest sense, elaborating on St. Irrenaeus' quote, "The Glory of God is a human person, fully alive." We will then spend a few weeks teaching about the Mercy of God. We will teach how to receive God's mercy and also how to be merciful. Joe Buttle and I very excited to start teaching and it all starts Wednesday, September 30th at 6:30pm. High Schoolers will meet in the Parish Center, and Middle Schoolers will meet in the Gym and begin after the Religious Ed students go to their classrooms.
Thanks for encouraging your students to be a part of our Youth Ministry this year!