2017-02_CYM-RelationalMinistry

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An Important Aspect of Relational Ministry You May be Missing

After recently giving my Core Team a short pep talk on relational ministry, it became clear my words were worth sharing with more than just my Core Team. I think they echo true for every Core Member — it’s about rooting relational ministry in prayer.

I’m going to start with the practical with two challenges for approaching relational ministry:
Be brave – Don’t hesitate to say hello and touch base, maybe even with a teen you don’t know before or after Mass. It’s easy to make an excuse to say and do nothing, but be courageous and be willing to be uncomfortable.

Invite – Teens need invitation. Don’t make every conversation pure invitation, but always keep invitation in mind and look for the opportunity (sometimes it’s not there, and trying to force it too much can be counterproductive). Teens can be invited to join weekly Life Nights, bible studies or Unleashed groups.

Be familiar with the Youth Ministry calendar in your parish, so you have an idea of things you can invite teens to go to (and take some initiative — your Youth Minister doesn’t need to spoon feed you everything). Ask teens if they plan to go on the upcoming retreat or to Steubenville Youth Conference or Camp Covecrest. If you’ll be there, tell them you will be and maybe offer to go to something with them.

But here’s the second part about effectively building relationships with the teens in your parish — you can’t always wait for the teens to come to you.

Make opportunities for relational ministry. Invite a group of teens for coffee (and tell them they can invite friends). Offer to go bowling or to a movie. Be creative. Remember to always see if the Youth Minister or another Core Member can join to follow Safe Environment Guidelines.

These are great practical reminders when it comes to relational ministry, but we often lose sight of how we need to root our ministry practices in prayer. There is a clear connection between relational ministry and prayer we often forget. When the teens are there, it’s time to build relationships. When they aren’t there, we can and should be praying for them.

So, consider this:

How often are you praying for the teens in your parish? Do you let them know?
Do you pray for them by name? Are you praying for fellow Core Members? For your Pastor, parish staff and Youth Minister? Do you pray for your youth ministry program — the vision and working of the Holy Spirit in your parish and the youth ministry program?

I invite you to take some time to ponder those questions both now and sometime in the next week while sitting before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. That’s something you can do now.

But my long-term challenge for your Core Team is to invest in a weekly Holy Hour together. Perhaps the entire team can’t make it to one hour together, but try to pair up, make triplets, whatever it takes, and then hold each other accountable. We can get every practice in ministry right, but the best thing we can be doing when no teens are around is bringing our teens by prayer before our Eucharistic Lord.

About the Author

Chris Epplett

Chris lives in Plymouth, MI. He used to own a dog, but the dog found a better home. Chris is a life-long Catholic who attended an active Life Teen program in high school. He enjoys writing, running and the Detroit Lions. He does not like mayonnaise, gout or bad drivers. He is the high school youth minister at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, MI. Chris has lived in Michigan his entire life, lovingly pointing to various spots on his hand, aka the Mitten. To connect with Chris, email him at cepplett@gmail.com.