[quote=JMJ Theresa] I think there is something wrong with the formation of youth ministers.
You assume first of all that youth ministers have formation. This is not always the case. Youth ministers vary from a paid staff position with a job description and educational requirements to a volunteer position that is likely a parent or someone who is involved in teaching CCE.
[quote=JMJ Theresa] The parishes I have been involved with have all had youth ministers that are focused not on bringing kids to greater holiness but in arranging social events. There doesn’t seem to be any desire to do catechesis, Bible studies, traditional Catholic prayer experiences (the retreats seem quite new agish). I am wondering if there is a benefit to even having a youth minister.
There is a difference between “youth ministry” and Religious Education. They are not mutually exclusive yet they are not the same thing either. They are different aspects of formation of children and we shouldn’t necessarily expect youth ministry to be what it is not intended to be-- catechism class.
There is a social dimension to the communal life of the Church, and yes, youth ministry often involves social activities. I would say there is nothing wrong with that-- it is a major aspect of helping the youth look towards the Church for this outlet rather than-- say-- hanging out at the mall.
That said, youth ministry should go beyond social only-- it should really strive to balance 4 S’s-- social, spiritual, sports, and service. This engages the body, mind, & soul in all aspects of Christian life. Hopefully a good ministry works in conjuction with Religious Education to complement those programs.
[quote=JMJ Theresa] I’m sure the answer lies in their educational formation. We have an orthodox parish, but the youth ministers have been liberal. In fact, our current youth minister compared going to Confession to going to the bathroom. There’s a good analogy to present to young people! :eek:
Again, not all youth ministers are paid positions, and some have minimal to no formation-- many are volunteer parents. However, a specific and concrete example of a person who is in charge of youth teaching something against Church teaching-- or expressing positions like you describe-- needs to be reported to the pastor.
[quote=JMJ Theresa] Do you have a youth minister at your parish? Is she/he teaching authentic Catholicism?
At my old parish, the last 3 youth ministers have left their positions to enter the seminary, so yes, I’d say they were very good and taugh Catholic teaching well. They also blended the 4 S’s I mentioned above to reach kids at all levels. Our parish also participated in Life Teen so youth ministry and religious education were very well integrated and focused.
I am now at a rural, small country parish-- the “youth minister” is a parent who wants to try to promote fellowship among the (few) teens we have and also give them some church sponsored alternatives to the secular activities going on. Youth activities are not necessarily oriented towards catechism-- they are oriented towards fun.
I see nothing wrong with either of these-- of course my large, city parish which had money to pay two full time youth ministers who integrated YM with catechesis and formation is the ideal in my mind. But, that’s not the reality of all parishes, or probably very very few.