What follows is a series about what has probably been the hardest life lesson I’ve ever had to learn.
The first piece of writing I ever had published was about break ups. I wrote it in my last year of high school and it was titled If your heart was truly broken, you’d be dead. That cynical title sets the tone of the piece pretty well. You can read it here, but before you do, let me give a bit of a disclaimer.
I wrote the article a couple of weeks after breaking up with my best friend. I don’t mean that in the obligatory-refer-to-your-significant-other-as-your-best-friend-in-a-Facebook-anniversay-post kind of way; I mean this girl had been my best friend and partner in crime for several years before we starting going out. Our relationship was a John Green novel waiting to happen. Once we started dating, everyone just assumed it was going to last.
Meeting Them on Their Way is a 3-part blog series that takes a critical look at Catholic youth ministry. This series aims to offer insight into several areas that I feel have often been overlooked or under-emphasised. Read Part 2 here.
Whole Church Ministry
It should come as no surprise that youth ministry is a demanding job. Youth ministers spend hours in overloaded schedules dreaming up speakers, organising events, practising music, setting up sports teams, encouraging outreach to those in need and, of course, preparing food. And then, after all that, sometimes only a few people show up. Burnout is fairly common and the average tenure of youth ministers is dismally short, with many leaving a congregation after less than 2 years in a role.
Meeting Them on Their Way is a 3-part blog series that takes a critical look at Catholic youth ministry. This series aims to offer insight into several areas that I feel have often been overlooked or under-emphasised. Read Part 1 here.
Not Just the Church of the Future
Like most social institutions, the Catholic Church typically views the role of youth as preparatory. The focus is on developing our young people, so that they are solid Catholics by the time they settle into adult life.
There’s nothing wrong with this. Development of our youth – be it social, spiritual, intellectual, etc. – is important. But we need to be careful that a focus on development doesn’t prevent us from challenging young people to use their gifts in the here-and-now.
“We need a church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren.
– Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013
When Catholics in New Zealand (or pretty much anywhere in the Western world) contemplate our Church’s ministry to young people, we know that something has gone wrong.
I’m not a genius or a prodigy.
That’s not a shock-value statement or an attempt to win you over with my humility; it’s just a fact. But it’s something that actually took me a really long time to get my head around.
Christians are good at a lot of things. The guy who came up with the Big Bang theory, several of the greatest composers of all time, the woman who led New Zealand to becoming the first country in the world to give woman suffrage, and the creator of Dominoes Pizza all had one thing in common – they were all Christians.
But when it comes to talking about sex, Christians suck at analogies.