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Ministering to Ministers: The Value of a Strong Core

Any youth minister will tell you, a good Core Team is invaluable to your ministry, and having a team of faithful volunteers is what makes or breaks a youth program. Without the support of holy men and women who understand the vision of the ministry and have a desire to serve the youth, we as youth ministers would be left tired, overwhelmed, and unable to attend to our teens with the same depth and breadth that a solid Core Team provides.

I’m sure none of that is news to anyone. In fact, I hope that in thinking about your Core, you had a little feeling of pride in the work that they do for the parish. However, the nature of youth ministry is that it is constantly shifting, and, as a result, we need to think of ourselves as ministering on two fronts. The first is to our teens and their families, preaching the truth of the Gospel in the context of a loving community. The second is to minister to our Core Team, making sure that they are being fed, and that they come closer to Jesus as they serve His Church.

Therefore, the only questions that remain are these…
1. How do I recruit and build a team of solid Core Members?
2. How do I train my Core Team in a way that ensures and enlivens their relationship with Christ, and helps them serve the teens more fully?

PRAYER

No matter what we do, we need to begin on our knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament asking Jesus to help His ministry grow. Don’t be afraid to lay your needs at His feet and ask Him to provide. At the end of the day, these are His children and we are simply the tool He is using. So, when recruiting Core Members, pray Jesus brings you that male or female, young adult, or a married couple that you know your ministry needs. And, when He does provide, be sure to be praying daily for each Core Member by name that they can encounter the Lord in new and profound ways.

WIDEN YOUR SCOPE

Often times, I hear from youth ministers who want only young adults or single Core Members. When recruiting, don’t limit yourself to one group or another. The worst mistake we can make in recruiting a Core Team is to allow our personal preference to cut the teens off from the gifts and experiences found in a diversity of men and women. Invite parents, married couples, older single people, young adults, priests, etc. to volunteer and help. A range of vocations, life, work, age, ethnicity, and spiritual experience can only enrich your ministry. We obviously want to be prudent and prayerful in our recruitment, but allow the Lord to surprise you in who He brings to your team.

MEET/PRAY AS A TEAM

Every month, our entire Core Team meets as a group either at the parish or someone’s home to discuss what’s coming up on the calendar and share some time of fellowship and prayer. These meetings can take many forms. Sometimes it takes the form of a dinner, sometimes we just sit and talk. If you have the chance, you could host a day retreat or holy hour for your Core Team. Regardless, these times serve the double purpose of helping share information as well as pray with and for one another and bond as a team. A great Core Team is one made up of Christ-centered friendships, and time together as a team helps to foster that community.

MEET/PRAY ONE-ON-ONE

In the same way it helps to meet as a team, making time to meet with individual Core Members over a meal or coffee is equally important. Providing one-on-one time with Core is a great way to hear how the Lord is working in their life and where they see themselves in the Church and youth ministry. I suggest meeting outside the parish. It provides a casual environment that allows you to make the time about them and build up your relationship.

LEAN ON YOUR RESOURCES

Finally, be sure to take advantage of the Core and catechist training resources that your diocese and Life Teen provide. There are men and women with years of experience in recruiting and training volunteers who have provided their expertise to you in person, digitally, and in hard copy. Also be sure to provide your volunteers with the resources they need to prepare for what you’ll be teaching the teens. For instance, if you’re talking about Theology of the Body, give your volunteers a copy of the book, audio recordings, or a video series so that they can study on their own. This way, volunteers can learn and wrestle with the subject matter before they are asked to talk to teens about it.

Youth ministry and youth ministers would not survive without adults responding to their Baptismal call who help serve and bring a unique perspective to the ministry. Core Members are themselves youth ministers who give freely of their time, talent, and treasure to help feed, teach, guide, and mentor the young Church. We must do everything in our power to support and train our Core Teams while at the same time praying for them to respond continually to God’s call in their life.

About the Author

Perry Rihl

I love Thai food, old books, and stupid puns. I'm married to a beautiful, patient, and holy woman and I live and work as a youth minister in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. God allows me to lead worship and retreats all over the place and you can follow me on Twitter @dprihl.