Part of the problem with my previous post, and I knew this going in, was the possibility of opening the door. Well, the door is open.
(I promise that I will only address one more excuse.)
In a Facebook thread, one of my comrades in Youth Ministry raised another excuse commonly heard by those who do Youth Ministry: “I already have a relationship with God and don’t need youth ministry.”
This certainly can be true enough, but I will still offer a few musings:
- There is more to Youth Ministry (or should be) than introducing you into a relationship with God. Evangelization (i.e. entry into the relationship – the introduction) is a key and ever-present part of ministry. However, and this is the case with any relationship, there is always more to know about your beloved – and when you’re in love, you want to know more.
- What does your relationship with God look like? How do you know you have a relationship with God? I ask because the phenomenon of being “spiritual but not religious” is quite posh and equally as imaginary. The Church has objectively presented Christ, the same Christ, to us in the Word and in the Sacraments, for 2000 years. Youth Ministry in the Church proposes Christ to us as the objective Christian Fact that he is – not a subjective phenomenon in your cognition, or an emotion that floats around and happens to land on you for a bit. As the great Patrick Reis (my comrade mentioned above) says, “No disciple follows Christ alone but is part of a Christian community.” This community testifies, proposes, and re-proposes Christ to the individual, and the individual does the same for the community. This highlights beauty and necessity of fraternity in the Church.
- Here’s the ultimate response to this excuse – then share Him! Jesus called his apostles into relationship with Him to be with him (yay!), and to be sent. Do you realize that there are hundreds of teens in your high schools, and in your parish youth groups that don’t know God? Do you know that your light cannot remain hidden (Mt. 5:15)? So get involved in Youth Ministry, participate on leadership teams (especially for retreats), learn how to give talks, get outside of your comfort zone.
I was once chatting with a teen who was coming back to Youth Ministry after a two year hiatus. He was commenting upon the sorrow he felt – because he had invited kids to come a few years ago, then did not show up himself. Those kids never came back and, he conjectures, are not in a good place now.
We don’t realize often enough how Christ is calling us to be his hands and feet. We don’t see nearly enough the opportunities He is placing before us, even in our own parishes, to bring another one back into the fold. We don’t realize, and we don’t see, because we struggle with pride and selfishness.
But He is calling all of us to more.