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You Have a Voice: A Message to Core Members

We have all faced it. That awkward moment when a Core member has an amazing idea or suggestion, and they’re hesitant to share it with the group because they are certain the youth minister will reject it. On numerous occasions, I’ve seen Core afraid to speak up with new ideas or speak out when something isn’t happening the way it should. I know some youth minister’s personalities can create this problem. After 15 years as a youth minister, I tend to like doing things my way; it’s typically easier to do it myself. I also have a problem properly responding to people’s suggestions. As an introvert, I like to ruminate on things. A Core member will share a great idea and I’ll politely thank him or her and say, “I’ll think about it.” It wasn’t until one brave Core Member told me that everyone felt rejected when they offered suggestions that I woke up and attempted to change things for the better.

Just like all people, youth ministers have unique strengths and weaknesses. Some are micromanagers; some are laissez-faire. Others like me are strong introverts who struggle to say the right thing in conversations. Some jump in and take over when they see a Core Member struggling at a Life Night (guilty again).

The thing is, without the help of the Core Team most ministries would deteriorate into “The Mike Gagnon Show.” Trust me nobody wants that…it would be all awkward moments and cheesy jokes. I need a Core Team to help keep Life Night focused on the true reason for us being together, Jesus Christ. Their ideas, voice, and faith are what keep me grounded and keep the teens coming back.

Humility

First off, whatever is done should be done in humility. Humility is the key to all the other virtues. Without humility, all our work dissolves into nothing. As St. Theresa of Avila describes in “Interior Castle,” humility is the virtue by which we enter the castle and is the one room we must revisit over and over again. In ministry, we have a tendency to get attached to a program or retreat and claim it as our own. But the truth is nothing’s our own except our sin. All is the grace of God. Our ministry is not ours but the Holy Spirit’s; he is sharing it with us. Youth minister and Core alike do well to remember this. It’s not about us; it’s about Him.

Prayer

Coupled with humility, the other necessary component is prayer. Our whole purpose is to unite our lives to God’s. All that we do in ministry should center on building a relationship with Christ. And no real relationship exists if it’s not rooted in communication. Pray before you share; pray before you listen. Don’t be afraid to respond to someone’s suggestion with, “Can I pray on that?” or “Let’s pray about that.” Then, at that moment, pray together.

Regular Conversations and Evaluations

I would also suggest that the Core and youth minister, along with any peer leaders meet regularly to share thoughts on the ministry. In our youth group, we meet after each Life Night for five-ten minutes and evaluate how things went and what could be improved. It’s helped improve the Life Nights, as well as the interaction and sharing of the team. There are hundreds of other practical ideas:

  • Have a suggestion box
  • Meet every semester or twice a year one-on-one, youth minister to Core member
  • Spend time in adoration as a team each week
  • Pray for guidance

If none of that works and your youth minister won’t listen, then perhaps find someone he or she does respect and ask them to mediate for you.

Where does this leave us? Our ministry, His ministry is a shared one. We cooperate with each other through His grace. Most youth ministers deeply value their Core Members and their opinions, even if they don’t always express it properly. You are an integral part of your parish youth ministry. You have an important voice that God has called you to use humbly. It’s not about you or the youth minister. It’s about leading teens to Christ.

 

Image via Flickr, CC 2.0, Logo added 

About the Author

Michael Gagnon

Michael is a husband and father of three children and has been a youth minister for 15 years with a Master's in Theology from the University of Dallas. Through many years of struggle he's embraced his innate awkwardness and uses it to share his faith with others. God has called him to serve by serving young people and their families and to help them encounter Christ. As Leon Bloy once said, "At the end of life there is only on great tragedy, not to have been a saint." You can read more of his writings at www.awkwardcatholic.com.

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