So you're at a youth gathering of some sort. You planned the retreat, scheduled the youth group, coordinated the fundraising; whatever it may be, you made it happen. But now you're here, and when the rubber meets the road, what are you going to do? You're the one in your parish who has been designated to "do youth ministry," after all. Just admit it: sometimes, it's terrifying to have to talk to youth. They're so young and...well...you're so old (I speak for myself, of course)! You have nothing in common! What are they're likes and dislikes? How can you relate? You still say awkward phrases from the early 2000s! What if you say one and they find out that you're not as hip and relevant as you thought you were!? The fact of the matter is, though: it is your responsibility (really, it's everyone's, but that's a topic for another time) to talk to them.
"...and learn from me;..."
What did Jesus do to relate to us? He dwelt among us. I mean, yes, he did a lot while he dwelt among us, but one of the simplest and most profound things he did while among us (and still does, really) was talk to people. Now, we're not God, and I doubt many of us have the gift of reading souls, so I wouldn't recommend guessing the sins of the youth and calling them out on it. But there's something very holy in small talk, in getting to know someone. If it's good, who are we to say that Jesus didn't do it? Yes, he already knows us, but he wants us to share our thoughts with him.
"...for I am gentle and lowly in heart,..."
So what's the best way to talk to youth? Humbly. You just do it. Just like you would with anyone else. Sure, it might be awkward, but every conversation with anyone has that potential. It's easy, as one who "works behind the scenes" to make youth events happen, to simply think our work is done after that point. But everyone, and especially our young people, desire real relationships with people who care. You are that person.
"...and you will find rest for your souls."
So this season of Advent, as we anticipate and contemplate the Incarnation, take courage and step out of your comfort level. Be confident, but be humble. There comes a great peace and consolation in talking with youth and listening to them. Enjoy that moment this Advent.
May God bless your Advent and have a merry Christmas! Know of my prayers for you all.
PS. It's okay to sit back and enjoy the show sometimes. Let the Holy Spirit guide your conversations and when to have them. Just remember the above reflection for when you get the prompting.
Discipleship training opportunity
Eric Gallagher (my counterpart from Sioux Falls) is offering an online "course" in discipleship. In the constant trial, error, ebb and flow of programs, Eric offers a new approach and I think he has a lot to share. It may be worth checking out. Click HERE for more information. Please let me know if you decide to take these courses, as I would be interested in walking with you as you do.
Rome Youth Pilgrimage 2017
In June of 2017, the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry will be co-sponsoring a pilgrimage to Rome with the Office of Vocations. This is a pilot program and after initial invitations, a few spots are still available for young women and a handful of spots are available for young men. If you know of any young men or women in 11th or 12th Grade who would be interested in such a trip, please contact me for more information. A page will be created soon at the diocesan youth ministry page, so stay tuned!
In case you have not been made aware of the plans for NCYC in 2017, please click HERE to view the letter that was sent out in the last UPDATE and also sent out to those who work in youth ministry in their parishes. Some of you have expressed interest in certain helpful resources for coordinating your trip and Cindy and I will do our best to provide these things in a timely manner. Thank you!