Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Theological Rant 5.0: Youth evangelization isn't rocket science

Other cranky theologically-based rants here.

I had a "state of youth ministry" conversation with sic. It's not his fault, but my hair is now in clumps from pulling it out. Mortification is great, and God does work in mysterious ways, but I'm not sure this is the typical way to die to the flesh.

So let me start here, folks. See, GOD IS GOOD. God wants good for your life. God gives meaning to all things. We're not trying to sell moldy fruit here, although you'd think so given the attitude of some involved in youth ministry. This is great stuff! We want to share that with young people. This isn't "thank goodness they're out of the house for an hour" infotainment.

Think the young'uns are hopeless causes? Who do you think they're learning from? That's This is my idea of a youth program (stage one). And I'm talking to all of you (and me too):
  • Receive Eucharist like it is the highlight of your day, because frankly, it is.
  • Raise your kids like the parish doesn't exist: that is, as if their Christian formation depends entirely on you. Because frankly, it may.
  • Pray every day. In front of your kids, and more than table grace. Because frankly, actions speak louder than words.
  • Stop using teens as volunteer fodder for every dang aspect of parish programming for they can check off the Confirmation checksheet. Because frankly, the Israelites didn't like being slave labor either.
  • Work for the poor and vulnerable in your area. Yeah, you. Do more than write the check. Because frankly, kids smell hypocrites faster than rotting fish.
  • Just as the best thing a husband can do for his children is to love their mother, the best thing Christian parents can do for their children is to love God. Because frankly, nothing else matters as much when you're dying (or living, but it's clearer on your deathbed).

Finally, as much as I like the events, don't depend on World Youth Day or NCYC either. Live it local, people.

Grumpy IC out.


Meredith Gould said...

(wild, enthusiastic applause) This is grumpy? This is informed, enthusiastic brilliance. Want to hear grumpy? Give me a call and I'll tell you stories about the pastoral associate for youth who spent most of his time muttered, "this sucks" in staff meetings and had to be told that balloon volleyball in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel was...uh...inappropriate. I could go on and just might over at my blog.

Bless you and listen up, sic.

Ray from MN said...


That applies go all of us, even us unmarried and childless types.

Good one, I.C.! Please print off 60,000,000 copies in English. I'll give you quantities for the rest of the Church later.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Meredith, I wasn't arguing against sic on this. He's totally with me. This was more a "state of the ministry" discussion.

I don't mind the frills if people do this basic stuff first.

Both M and R, thanks for the props. And yes, I need to attend to this stuff myself, so I convict myself as I write.

Gregory said...

Hear, hear! As you well know (if you even remember), I'm not Catholic, but this is all well put and good advice for anyone dealing with teenagers, Catholic or otherwise.

Allen's Brain said...

I disagree with your initial premise, mentioned in your title. It IS rocket science. Strap 'em to a rocket and shoot em off into the stratosphere, and they'll come back converted--if they survive.

-A Rocket Scientist

verification: yyipy (Just try and pronounce it out loud. Your mouth will thank you!)

Jan or Paul said...


I run the youth ministry at an Anglican Church, and the biggest lesson I would pass on to others if I could would be: Actions speak louder than words.

I would add the following to your list:
- Pressure's off. The spiritual well-being of youth is not in your hands, it is in God's hands, and you have an opportunity to participate in the work God is doing already. And I guarantee that God is working in their lives.

- Honesty is more important than piety. If you can be honestly pious, even better, but pretending to be without sin is not doing the youth any favours.


JimmyV said...


-recovering catechist

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Amen!, although backwards minded Youth Minsters such as myself are having hard enough times because of these very principles that they want to apply ;)