Amy Welborn hits on the deficiencies of almost all current youth ministry, Catholic and Protestant, in her reflections on the National Catholic Youth Conference she attended in Atlanta last weekend. I found myself slapping the table and saying, “Yes, yes!” as she articulated all thqat has troubled me in even the most orthodox youth programs I’ve been involved with. Here is a good summary of her point.
In short, my questions about the current state of youth ministry can be reduced to one: I am not convinced that most current (read, for the past two decades) trends in Catholic youth ministry have the net effect of rooting young people in a faith that will take them through to mature Catholic faith. It is all very much about pandering to the Teen Moment, and frankly, the Teen Moment passes pretty quickly – usually by the end of the first semester of college. And, ironically, some of the most solid teens, faith-wise, are extremely skeptical of the Teen Moment from the get-go, and are turned off by it. This is not about music, activities, etc…it’s about something deeper. In fact, it’s not about what’s there, but about what’s missing. Which is, in short, an explicit connection to the bigger, wider deeper Church that is 2000 years old, wise, rich and is the Body of Christ, for them, right now.