Because of our love for you we were ready to share with you not only the good news from God but even our very lives. 1 Thessalonians 2:8.

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1 How to Build a Successful Youth Ministry Youth ministry begins when a caring adult builds a relationship with a young person and in sharing their life shares his or her faith as well. In many ways, we live in a culture today that has abandoned its young people. Teenagers are in the process of discovering who they are and what they stand for. Unfortunately, many are primarily looking to the media and their peers for answers because they lack significant relationships with caring adults. Adults who desire to have an impact on the lives of youth have to get close and stay close to them. Youth don t care how much you know until they know how much you care and it is by our love for them that we earn the right to be heard. Therefore, the key to any successful youth ministry is to have a team of caring, faith filled adults who are involved in the lives of the youth on a consistent basis. Because of our love for you we were ready to share with you not only the good news from God but even our very lives. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 here are essential steps to building your program: 1 coordinator Select an adult be the Youth Ministry Coordinator. Strong leadership is essential to the success of any program. The coordinator will work closely with the pastor and the adult team in reaching teens. It is important that this person has a dynamic faith, the ability to communicate effectively with both teens and adults, and is organized. It is a good idea to have both a man and a woman in a prominent leadership role. The reality today is that the teen males are the most difficult group to reach. Thus, strong male leadership is important. 2 adults Establish an leadership team. Our faith is caught as much as taught so the adult team members should have a contagious faith. In other words, they are excited about growing in their relationship with God and sharing that with others. The adult team also needs to understand they are embracing ministry and accepting the call to be a missionary to teenagers. This moves them beyond the customary chaperone role to intentional outreach. There should be at least one female adult for each group of 8 females and one male for each group of 8 males. 3 Idea: have each youth fill out a form with their name, birthday, patron saint, interests, and prayer concerns. Attach their picture to this information sheet and then give to an adult who will pray for them daily. This adult can also be a source of encouragement to the teen by sending birthday cards,, s, etc. Establish an intercessory prayer team ( Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it. Ps 127:1). The power of prayer should never be underestimated. If we desire youth to attend the programs we offer and be open to the message we share then the Holy Spirit must pave the way. The ideal is to have an adult adopt a teen and commit to pray for them daily. The adult leaders should also have someone consistently praying for them and their ministry to teens. The prayer team also prays for youth nights, retreats, trips, etc. and offers prayer when crises occur.

2 4 A youth ministry that excludes parents is about as effective as a Band-Aid on a hemorrhage. The domestic church is the place of greatest influence. A family friendly youth ministry teams up with parents in deepening the spiritual lives of their teens. This includes developing relationshops with parents, being sensitive to family priorities, supporting their role as the primary educators of the faith, communicating regularly with them, sharing family resources with them, updating them on youth culture, inviting them to be part of the volunteer team, and offering family programs. 5 Define your mission. The mission statement should aim at incorporating the purposes of youth ministry into your program. The purposes are based on two Great scripture passages: the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matt 22:37-40 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. Matt 28:19-20 God Worship: Love the Lord your God with all your heart This purpose aims at celebrating God s presence and giving honor and praise to through prayer, especially in the mass. Ministry: Love your neighbor as yourself This purpose helps students discover their gifts and put them into practice through ministry. In addition, it aims to nurture young people in social consciousness and a commitment to a life of justice and service. Evangelization: Go and make disciples This purpose aims to draw students into an enthusiastic, personal relationship with Christ. All teaching and activities should in some way emphasize that God is inviting us always to a deeper relationship with Him through Jesus Christ and His Church. Fellowship: Baptizing them This purpose aims to create an environment in which students are known, cared for, held accountable, and encouraged in their spiritual journey. Discipleship: Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you This purpose aims at handing on the truth of our Catholic faith to teens and helping them develop spiritual disciplines in their lives like prayer, study and sacramental living.

3 plan 6 Plan a balanced program. large group meeting The objectives of the large group programs are: a) to provide opportunities to have fun and make friends; b) to break down barriers to Christ and the church; c) to demonstrate how Christ can relate to a teenager s life; d) to invite them to a closer relationship with Christ. The dynamics of the large group meeting are: a) opportunities to meet new people; b) full of action; c) enthusiastic tone; d) creative presentation (activities, multi - media). The format for the meeting is: a) hospitality - create a warm and friendly environment (food is always good to have, music playing, adults and youth leaders greet); b) welcome - help participants feel welcome (have youth introduce the friends they invited); c) warm-up - to reduce discomfort and create openness (icebreakers, games); d) message - to communicate the gospel message (use media and relate message to what is going on in the lives of teens); e) closure - to wrap up the evening (prayer, music)

4 Service: Deep down we long to know that we make a difference and that our lives matter. In many ways, we draw our identity from the impact we have on others. This is especially true for teenagers struggling with their identity in the stormy waters of adolescence. Therefore, it is important to give students many opportunities to be involved in service. In addition, we need to communicate with students that all Christians are called to ministry. In the words of St. Paul: The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ Ephesians 4:11-12) Do s and Don ts for Service Do connect service and spirituality in a meaningful way. Do not mandate service hours. Do provide interesting and challenging opportunities to serve on a regular basis. Do not neglect appropriate preparation and follow-up. Do offer up the service in prayer. Do have students serve in groups where they will enjoy the fellowship of one another. Student Leadership: Teens are very effective in reaching their own. The gospel message becomes credible to a young person when it is lived and proclaimed by a peer. Teens need to see that living out your faith is not just an adult thing. Students should be invited, selected, and trained to share their gifts in the leadership of the youth ministry program. Participation in student leadership requires a deeper level of commitment and accountability than is expected from other students in the program. With this in mind, a good theme verse for students in leadership is: I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1).

5 small group meeting Small group ministry is a necessary component of a youth ministry program. Small groups: Give students the sense of belonging that they are looking for. Allow students to be known and to have the opportunity to share. Allow students to personalize their faith and discuss the implementation of Christ s teaching in their lives. Encourage accountable relationships which allow students to serve one another (Gal 5:13), accept one another (Rom 15:7), forgive one another (Col. 3:13), greet one another (Rom 16:16), bear one another s burdens (Gal 6:2), be devoted to one another (Rom 12:10), honor one another (Rom 12:10), teach one another (Rom 15:14), submit to one another (Eph 5:21), encourage one another (1 Thes 5:11). Help adults to become ministers themselves. Once adults see the impact they have on teens they sense God s calling and embrace ministry to the students in their group. Generally, same sex small groups lead to deeper discussion and community building. The goal of small groups is facilitating teens to deeper levels of honest sharing. When this happens, they begin to support one another and become committed to their group. Thus, the three rules of the group are 1) be honest or be quiet (teens always have the freedom to pass and not share) 2) be totally confidential with what is shared 3) be committed to the group. The adult leader promises to be confidential unless something is shared where a group member s health is at risk. Example program: Separate girls from guys and place them into same sex small groups with 8-10 per group. Small groups meet for 2 weeks for 2 hours a night. The 3rd week is a large group meeting with all the youth together and the 4th week each small group is involved in a service project. Keep in mind that consistency and quality of the overall program will increase attendance.

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