What my Teacher-Self Wishes My Youth-Minister Self Knew: Casting a Wider Net

There are other teens out there!

I distinctly remember standing in my classroom, looking at my students after having just graded a set of papers. I was struck by the level of pain and suffering they carry on their shoulders—mostly hidden from everyone. As their teacher, they had given me a glimpse into the suffering side of their lives in their papers. I asked myself, what youth ministry is reaching these teens? Which parish youth minister, Core Team, and teens have a focus that is missionary-minded – not to a far off place—but to those in their community?

Having worked in youth ministry, I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in the parish. There is a lot of work to do: Core Team recruitment and training, Life Night planning, trying to connect with the teens who only show for sacramental preparation, retreat planning, ordering t-shirts. Along with that comes summer trips, staff meetings, and parish initiatives. No doubt about it, there is much to do to keep a thriving youth ministry going.

So, I understand the idea of youth ministry focusing outward (“Go into the whole world…” Mark 16:15) seems nearly impossible. Besides, it’s a lot easier to focus on teens that are excited about Life Teen, and it’s a lot scarier to think about doing actual evangelization to those who may have never heard the good news of Christ.

I submit that many of us are guilty of parish-navel-gazing when it comes to youth ministry. I think it’s time for us to think about making parish youth ministry a bit more missionary minded. I know that a youth minister is just one person, and I certainly don’t have some amazing master ten-step-evangelization-plan for you to implement. I also imagine depending on your tenure at the parish, the Lord may ask you to form youth ministry first. However, I know that there are a lot of other teens outside our parish rosters who need to know that our Savior loves them. They need to know that they have dignity, that they have a purpose, and that Someone is walking with them in their suffering.

So, can parish youth ministry be more missionary focused so more teens can experience the feeling of being in—in the family of God? Let’s ask for the intercession of some mission minded and teen-friendly saints.

St. John Bosco and Blessed Chiara Luca Badano, pray for us!


Image via FlickrCC 2.0, Logo added 

About the Author

Angela Hamrick

I only first went to youth group in high school because my mother made me. Little did I know that the Lord's plan for my life would be directly related to that one Wednesday evening. I don't eat bananas, seafood, or the white sauce that comes with chips and salsa.

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