New Youth Leader


#1

My husband and I are the new volunteer (unpaid) youth leaders for the high school group at our parish. We have over 100 registered teenagers, with about 20-30 who go to everything. We have almost no money. Until my husband and I made a significant donation, the group had about $50 for the year.

The group we are inheriting is very much a social group. Meetings include a short prayer service, and there are occasional service activities, but that’s about it. We’re looking to bring the focus a little more toward our shared faith without losing the interest of to many members, and without the feeling of lecturing. The teenagers are almost all attending Catholic school and many are in confirmation class, etc. The group so far has been a nice way for them to spend social time with their peers in a safe environment. Any ideas for bringing in more elements of the faith without overwhelming the group and without just talking at them?

We’re also looking to find a way to increase our budget so that we don’t have to ask the teenagers and their parents for money every time we want to buy snacks or books or basically do anything that isn’t a major trip. At the same time, I don’t want to spend all of our time and energy on fundraisers. We want to try to save the fundraisers for specific large events (like a mission trip).

Any suggestions or ideas? Words of wisdom? Or prayers? :slight_smile: :thumbsup:


#2

God bless you for this ministry. first, get clear on what the focus of the group is and its purpose for existence. poll the kids who are active first, then the kids who are occassionals, then the parents, the pastor and the parish. Then clarify your own vision, but realize you can’t impose your idea on the group if the kids don’t buy into it.

if they are in Catholic school, CCD or Confirmation class, they should be getting the backround in doctrine and spirituality, so don’t try to do their job for them. maybe find out from the kids what difficulties they see in living as Christians in their world, ask them how they would go about solving that problem.

kids often surprise you by what they are looking for. here there are few avenues to socialize other than parties, as schools have all but dropped sponsored social activities, dances etc. Maybe they just want an alternative to parties with booze and behaving badly.

sometimes they want to do service of some kind, but not projects imposed by others. your job here would be to keep them grounded in reality and give guidance.

fundraising should support specific activities, not just for its own sake. Most parents would rather just put a specified amount in a fund rather than participate in time-consuming fundraisers. Or undertake fundraisers that help the parish or other group.

subscribe to Group magazine, not Catholic, but very good ideas and tips for running meetings, attracting and keeping members, fundraising, parental communication etc.

keep in contact with your diocesan office of youth ministry and take advantage of youth rallies, retreats, trips etc. they sponsor, and monetary support they provide.


#3

Five and a half years ago my wife and I opened our doors to high school youth. We are Catholic, we discuss Catholic beliefs and doctrines, we are visited by our parish priests and local full time youth ministers (several of their children attend). On average we have between 25-30 teenagers over the house every Sunday evening. It is a privately funded meeting at a private home, not associated with the local parish youth ministry although I am the local volunteer youth minister and on the youth commission.

We start the meeting at 6:00 during the school year and 7:00 in the summer. The camaraderie and friendships that have started is extraordinary. They go on vacations, parties, skiing, out to eat, etc with each other, the friendships have blossomed beyond our wildest expectations. Two of them are getting married on our 17th anniversary Aug 19th. Their names just happen to be the same as ours, David and Ann, and we are David and Anne.

               When we started the group, we had just had our 5th child, our oldest was 9, the group age is 14-19, my son finally this past year is reaping the rewards of the meetings. We since have had 2 more children, 4 boys and 3 girls, each of our children have received benefits from hanging out with the Kids. Our children are extremely well adjusted and used to crowds and are very extroverted, it is beautiful.

Here are the basics of our meeting:

  1. The desire has to be genuine, and in line with the Holy Spirit or it will fail.

  2. No matter how you try, you are not in charge, let the Holy Spirit lead. If I have a preconceived notion of how I want the meeting to proceed it seems forced and directed.

  3. Let the youth run the meeting, they want to discuss things but typically don’t have a forum for the discussion.

  4. Be prepared, Bible, Catechism, current misselette or print out of the weeks readings and gospels, Catholic Source book, Bible Atlas, Etc. always refer to text, never try to explain it if you are unsure if it is correct. It must be inline with the Church.

  5. 20 Bucks, Buy a case of Mountain Dew or two and 2 bags of chips. Kids need food and drink; I pay for the meeting so I don’t have to be accountable for the funds of a parish stipend, less in the plate on Sunday and less headaches with paperwork.

    6:00 Social Time: The kids slowly arrive, in the summer we play football, softball or volleyball. In the winter we play Pea Pool, or poker, yes poker, it’s their meeting.

    7:30 Meeting Starts: Several years ago I printed prayer cards up, we are still using them, they are torn, stained folded and crappy, It shows the tradition (if you would like a PDF of the prayers let me know and I’ll send it to you). We then do our “Thank Yous” this is where we go around the room and individually thank God for what he has given us, family friends, food, mountain dew, etc. this at times can take over an hour.

    After the “Thank Yous” we usually start in a discussion of the day, this past week it was an impromptu discussion on “your life”. Where do you want to be in 25 years, go backwards and start living your life today. If discussions don’t seem to spark up read the Gospel of the day and discuss what they got out of the priests homily. If it still doesn’t spark, read next weeks readings and gospel. And then discuss their message. Let the Kids discuss anything, just so it has to do with life situations and religion.

    After the discussion typically 9:30, kids start leaving for home, some stay and play pool.
    

In the past 5 ½ years we have had a death of a sibling, suicide of a friend from school, many deaths of youth due to car accidents. We have also discussed much of the bible and catechism and the teachings of many saints. We have discussed college roommates situations from promiscuity to Protestantism. We have openly discussed underage drinking, drunkenness, sexuality, modest dress, pornography etc. The kids have many questions and love to discuss all of the topics, don’t shy away from one or they will redirect you back towards it or discuss it without the guidance of a person with their best interest in mind.

 Pray over it, listen to what God is saying to you.

If you would like to see pics or discuss this at length please don’t hesitate to email me at david@puthoff.us.

 Peace,

David


#4

[quote=David Puthoff]Five and a half years ago my wife and I opened our doors to high school youth. We are Catholic, we discuss Catholic beliefs and doctrines, we are visited by our parish priests and local full time youth ministers (several of their children attend). On average we have between 25-30 teenagers over the house every Sunday evening. It is a privately funded meeting at a private home, not associated with the local parish youth ministry although I am the local volunteer youth minister and on the youth commission.

[/quote]

please be very careful about inviting the kids into your home. Because of your involvement with youth ministry in the parish, in this lawsuit-saturated society you could conceivably be targeted as could the parish and diocese should any wrongoing or accident arise involving any of these kids on your property. Please get advice from your own lawyer, your insurance carrier, and your diocese. Even a child getting involved in a car accident on the way to or from your house could conceivably result in a lawsuit involving you and the diocese and parish. It is a sad sign of our sad times that this is true, but one reason youth ministry is becoming so difficult is because of this climate.


#5

[quote=Corinne]My husband and I are the new volunteer (unpaid) youth leaders for the high school group at our parish. We have over 100 registered teenagers, with about 20-30 who go to everything. We have almost no money. Until my husband and I made a significant donation, the group had about $50 for the year.

[/quote]

your situation directly highlights one of the major failures in your church today, to implement real youth ministry as the bishops intend. Unfortunately most parishes and diocese do not earmark resources for carrying out the clear mandate of the bishops in this area.


#6

Whatever you decide on the other aspects, involve food and lots of it. Teenagers eat A LOT.


#7

[quote=OutinChgoburbs]Whatever you decide on the other aspects, involve food and lots of it. Teenagers eat A LOT.
[/quote]

quite right, lay in a supply of chewable pepcid AC or the pizza will kill you


#8

I was in a teen group when I was in high school, and one way we managed the issue of snacks was to switch off: one week, Teen A would bring a snack, Teen B would bring sodas. Next week, Teen C would bring snacks and Teen D would bring sodas, etc. It worked nicely.


#9

SO COOL!

I was involved with ahigh school youth ministry for 5 years called Young Life (Scott Hahn was also involved with this and Marcus Grodi). It is a very effective ministry that reaches thousands and thousands of kids a year by bringing them face to face with the gospel (I know, this is where I began a real relationship with our Lord). In my experience with being what we called a “leader,” I can give a few tips of what I learned;

-go to them. kids want to know that they are loved in a world that hates them. they will act like you are a total dork, but they are really screaming for people to pursue them.

-earn the right to be heard. befriend them. don’t have an agenda past loving them. learning about Christ and His Church are best done out of love. we want kids to love Jesus, and to be convinced we’re right.

-break down walls. do fun things that are out of their element. do skits, play games, go out of town. when kids are away from the world the Spirit is alowed in.

-develope those relationships!

just my 2 cents

JC


#10

We have a group in our area called Youth for the Third Millenium. Check out the website:

regnumchristi.org/english/articulos/articulo.phtml?id=1011&se=16&ca=41&tc=10&id=1011


#11

I belong to a Lifeteen parish. The ministry requires a full-time youth minister and a youth music minister, but you might be able to get some ideas and support from their nat’l website www.lifeteen.com

This particular program is designed for HS teens with a youth oriented mass (where they are the ushers, lectors, altar servers, etc.) It then follows with a Life Night where for 3 weeks there is a lesson that is presented in an interesting way with the 4th week being a pure social activity. You can get the upperclassmen to help plan and execute the nights after they have participated for a while. Each summer we have a teen takeover for each class to put on a night including teaching the lesson (with guidance). They love it. Our teens are now some of the best witnesses to the faith in the parish.

Do be careful about being alone with teens. Our parish has a “2 adult rule” for all vulnerable populations including all ages of kids. You must have 2 adults present when “alone” in a room with them like Religious Ed for the little ones or the programs for the older ones. We do the same thing for retreats by assigning 2 or more adults per cabin or dorm room. When there is not another adult available or a teen needs to talk privately we move to a corner of the larger room out of hearing distance of the others but still in plain sight and talk.

I hope that you find your experience rewarding!


#12

[quote=puzzleannie] Please be very careful about inviting the kids into your home. Because of your involvement with youth ministry in the parish, in this lawsuit-saturated society you could conceivably be targeted as could the parish and diocese should any wrongdoing or accident arise involving any of these kids on your property. Please get advice from your own lawyer, your insurance carrier, and your diocese. Even a child getting involved in a car accident on the way to or from your house could conceivably result in a lawsuit involving you and the diocese and parish. It is a sad sign of our sad times that this is true, but one reason youth ministry is becoming so difficult is because of this climate.
[/quote]

"He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Matt 16:23

 Peace,

David


#13

Bible studys are great!
Praise and worship things are great!

Bible study really pulled in a lot of teenagers where I grew up. It wasn’t watered down your a teen so you cant read the bible stuff, but it was quite often based on texts intended for adults. Some of the Scott Hahn books would be a great place to start!

See if you can’t get more people from other parishes involved, like youths just out of college, on fire with their faith. Ask them to lead something or create a program.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you to do what he wants you to do. You won’t be disappointed.


#14

Thank you all so much for the advice! I really appreciate it. And, please, by all means, keep it coming. :slight_smile: :thumbsup:

Any advice on how to handle having group members at all different levels spiritually? I want to make sure that the members with a really deep faith are able to find nourishment in the group. At the same time, we have a lot of people who come just for the “fun stuff”, and I want them to keep coming because it is a good environment for them. We currently have some all-fun activities, some service activities, and meetings that combine a fun activity with a prayer/scripture time. I’d like to focus a little more on faith issues during our meetings without alienating anyone. I’m trying to decide whether to make the regular meetings more faith-focussed, or to keep things as they are and add another Bible Study meeting for those who really want to dig deep. The high schoolers are just so busy, and I don’t know if many of them can make another meeting.


#15

Turn them on to these youth resources:

Catholic Youth Pages


#16

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