Questions to help you discern actionable goals
As more and more parishes move to a family-centered religious education model, it makes sense to consider how youth ministries might embrace some aspects of this movement as well. Adding some family-centered elements to your existing youth ministry program will provide continuity between religious education and middle- and high school ministry. It will smooth the transition from one to the other as well as encourage healthy parent/child communication during a time when that can become more complicated.
Some parishes have family ministries, but these tend to be focused on young families. What about the families with tweens and teens? Let’s begin by asking some questions.
1. How do you view the parents of your teens? As partners? Bystanders? Combatants? Employers?
2. How do your parents view youth ministry? Why do you think they send their kids?
3. What do they think your role is in their child’s faith development?
4. How often do you come in contact with parents? To what degree? Person-to-person? Large groups? Small groups? Emails or social media outreaches?
5. What is the value in improving the quality (as opposed to quantity) of your contact with the parents?
6. How involved are your parents in their own faith development?
7. How receptive do you think your parents would be to some new ideas for family involvement in youth ministry?
These questions are worth pondering, praying about, and answering. You may not have answers for some questions. Ask yourself why. Is it because you’ve never thought to ask, or is it because the information just isn’t available? If the information isn’t available, but you see value in knowing the answer, then how might you go about getting it?
Once you’ve gathered your informal “data,” it’s time to make it useful by identifying areas that have potential. Here are some suggestions.
1. Address the areas that depend primarily on your choices (such as questions 1 and 4). Any improvement needed can be carried out by you.
2. Talk with your DRE (and your director of family ministry, if you have one). Discuss your discoveries and thoughts with them. Explore how this new information can be fused with what the family ministry team is doing, with the goal of expanding ministry success
3. Talk with your parents. Share your findings with them and ask for their feedback.
4. Talk with your teens. What kind of parent and family involvement would they appreciate?
Finally, use this information to develop an action plan. Start small. As with anything, change at the parish level — even good change — can be difficult. Better to do a few little things and let them take root first before moving on to larger program changes or additions.
Becky Groth is a writer for ODB Films. See more at ODBFilms.com.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, March 2019
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