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What's the Big Idea? [Free Journal Article]

It’s Advent, and as we are preparing for Christmas, we’re probably also thinking about our ministry in the coming year. What new things do we want to try? Where do we want to go deeper? What will really work in reaching youth today?

Recently, I was invited to facilitate a workshop with youth ministers in the Archdiocese of Seattle. After a morning retreat, we took time for idea sharing. Our focus was on things that are really working with youth today. After some sharing in pairs, I collected these ideas in response to the question: What really works in reaching and engaging today’s youth?

  • Eucharistic Adoration
  • Learning about the Saints – Examples of Holiness lived out
  • Empowering youth to be an integral part of the parish
  • Retreats
  • Devotions
  • Scripture
  • Personal experiences of faith that are relatable
  • Time for silence and reflection
  • Encouragement / affirmation
  • Gentleness
  • Apologetics – solid explanations and teachings about the faith
  • Personal invitation to youth to participate
  • Working with families
  • Engagement in service learning

In addition to these ideas, we spent some time talking about youth’s hunger for encounters with Christ. Youth today aren’t just looking for information, they are longing for an experience of Jesus. The cross is a great symbol reminding us of the dimensions of encounter: vertical encounters where we engage directly with God and horizontal encounters where we meet God through others. We know that youth encounter Christ in a vertical way through experiences of prayer, sacrament, silence, and scripture. Youth also encounter Christ in a horizontal way through relationships, communities, belonging, acts of service, and engagement in ministry.

As we begin this year of mercy, what can we do through our ministries to help youth experience the unconditional love of Christ through all that we do? What would you add to the list?

To help you get started thinking about that, read and be inspired by Dr. Ansel Augustine's journal article, "Living as Missionary Disciples: Walk the Talk."

The Gift of Belonging
Works of Mercy in the Jubilee Year