How fun would it be that on youth nights we could break out St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and have a deep theological discussion with anyone and everyone in our youth group, because they’d already have an awesome foundation in what we believe?
Okay. So my friends tell me I’m a dreamer, but what a dream that is! Here’s the truth though: Our goal as ministers should be to help the youth’s parents do such an outstanding job sharing the faith with their children, that we have nothing left to teach them.
Yes, it is highly unlikely that we can grasp the depths of Summa Theologica within the junior high discussion group we lead, sitting on the gym floor on a Wednesday night. However, the fact is, that each of us in ministry have a few kids that don’t learn anything new at our nights, and I gotta tell you that this fact excites me. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but what this means is that my dream is possible… at least theoretically.
Just because well catechized youth are in a different place in their formation, doesn’t mean they don’t need ministering to.
Over the last two years, I’ve crossed the interesting milestone where my friends’ kids are old enough to be in my ministries. I’m friends with some pretty outstanding Catholics who know the faith and communicate it well with their children. When their kids come to our nights, I honestly don’t expect them to learn any new teaching, and neither should their parents. What I do expect them to learn, is how to help evangelize their peers, and how to be leaders in the faith.
As youth ministers, it is easy to lose sight of what these well formed youth need. We see them answer the questions and we think they have it all figured out. Just because they are in a different place in their formation, doesn’t mean they don’t need ministering to. They need a totally different type of attention from us. These are the co-small group leaders, the youth leadership team members, possibly even members on our youth evangelization team!
If parents do nothing at home, there is little chance our ministry alone will make the spiritual lives of our young people healthy.
Our ministries should be seen by us, and by the parents of our youth, as supplements to the primary catechist’s (the parent’s) role. The parents provide the “main course” and our ministries are supplemental. It doesn’t matter what they teach (or don’t), they are still the main source of formation. If the parents do nothing at home, there is little chance (outside of the Holy Spirit who can do all things) that our supplements alone will make the spiritual lives of our young people healthy.
When a parent walks up to you and says, “My kid isn’t learning anything new,” and you know they are doing a great job of forming their kid, I want you to respond with a smile and say, “Thank you!” Take a minute to affirm them and tell them what an outstanding job they are doing in raising their kids in the faith.