CYM Blog Epiphany Sunday: A Core Recruitment Opportunity by Tricia Tembreull The other night I decorated my house for Christmas, and I put out my nativity set. As I unwrapped each figure, I started thinking about the exhausting journey each person went through to arrive at the manger. I’m not sure how you are feeling at this point in the ministry year, but I do know the journey can leave us pretty exhausted. Maybe you can relate to the smelly shepherds who feel like they lost a few sheep along the way. Perhaps you feel like Mary and Joseph, frustrated there is no room for you in the parish hall because another ministry “supposedly” reserved it. Or maybe you feel like the Magi just cruising on some camels following a star and ministry is going according to God’s plan. Regardless of who you relate to best, we could all use a gift this Christmas season, and the Feast of the Epiphany provides an excellent opportunity to both give and receive one. When I was in a parish, Epiphany Sunday was the perfect weekend to recruit for new Core Members. Think about it; the busyness of Christmas is in the past, families have figured out their commitments and have a general routine in place, and adults are setting resolutions for the year that often include a desire to strengthen their relationship with God. What better way is there than to join a community that will pray with and for you, hold you accountable to live as a disciple of Christ, and help you learn about your faith while being a witness to teenagers? Here is how you can turn the Feast of the Epiphany into an opportunity to gift your ministry and teens with some new Core Members. Use the Christmas Church Environment On Epiphany Sunday, the Church is typically still decorated for Christmas, and there are Christmas trees everywhere. Place Christmas trees at the doors of your church and hook paper ornaments in three different colors on the trees. Speak at All the Masses During announcements, invite a Core Member to share what a gift being on Core Team has been to them, have a teen share how the Core Team has been a gift to them, or personally speak about the blessing the Core Team has been to you personally and for the teens. Explain the colored ornaments and Invite families to take one. Paper Ornaments At a local scrapbooking store (or with manual labor called teenagers), you can make round, paper ornament to hook on the Christmas trees. I like using yellow, red, and white, so the colors stand out. Yellow Ornament – Prayer Ornament At a minimum, every family can pray for a teen by name. Write a prayer or find a prayer for teens and print it on the ornament. Then place a label with the name of a teen (full name or first name and last initial) in your parish so a family can pray for them throughout the year. I have found that families who honestly pray daily for a teen will at some point ask you how they are doing. Amazingly, they are typically a teen who has had a radical conversion. Invite the adult to meet the teen they have been praying for in person at a Life or Edge Night and if the Spirit is nudging you, invite them to discern being on Core Team. I have gained numerous Core Members over the years this way. It takes some time, but you know they will lead the teens with prayer. Red Ornament – Financial or Ministry Donations Every youth group has needs. Do you want to buy Bibles for teens in your Summit group or do you need water bottles for weekly Life Nights? Maybe you are starting to fundraise for a Summer Camp or Conference, or you would like to have a new or used gaming device in the youth room. Whatever the needs are for your ministry, write them down, and parishioners can take them and return the ornament with the item you requested. You can even put $5, $10, $20, or even $100 amounts on the ornament and parishioners can return it with cash or a check (or if you cool and have a credit card system, swipe away). White Ornament – Adult Leadership Opportunities Who couldn’t use a few new Core Members? It is always great to add new hearts to the Core Team mid-year. Plus, it is easier to have a new Core Member shadow an experienced Core Member for a few weeks than train an entirely new Core Team at the beginning of the year. With this ornament, write “Adult Leadership Opportunities” or “Core Team” and ask them to visit the information table to fill out their contact information. If you plan on having a Core Information Night, make the ornament an invitation of sorts and include the date, time, and location. No matter what, follow up with everyone who expresses interest in being an adult leader. You don’t have to take everyone on your Core Team, but there is no excuse for not following up. Have Teens Present Ensure teens are present as lectors, gift presenters, ushers, and greeters at the doors for all the Masses. They can even pass out the yellow prayer ornaments to families as they leave the church and thank them personally when they see an ornament in hand. It’s important to have the teens visible to parishioners and recognize how their presence is a real gift to the parish. However you chose to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, we are thankful for all the ways you and your Core Team have been a Christmas star illuminating the path that leads your teens to encounter Christ. Like the Magi, we pray you all continue sharing your gifts, so the light of Christ is revealed throughout the world.