Why some people don’t like Youth Ministry

Why some people don’t like Youth Ministry

This is the type of thing that gives youth ministry a bad name. This happens to be Life Teen, and I know many people swear by Life Teen as a way that brought them deeper into their faith. The particular program is irrelevant to my current point. It’s a general attitude in some youth ministry philosophies.

A friend sends along the following announcement in a parish bulletin. (I don’t know the original source):

01/21 - 08:30 AM
Seuss is Loose LIFE TEEN Retreat
Can’t Drive? Still Want to Get Out of Town? The Seuss is Loose LIFE TEEN Retreat is your ticket out! All Freshmen and Sophomores are invited to join us at Phantom Lake YMCA Camp in Mukwonago as we explore the moral and spiritual lessons of Dr. Seuss and apply them to our lives. We leave Cabrini at 8:30 AM on Saturday and will return to complete our Retreat with the 6:00 PM LIFE TEEN Mass on Sunday. Cost of $60.00 includes transportation, overnight lodging, meals and FUN! Hurry! Space is limited! Call the Christian Formation Office at 334-9511 for more information or to obtain a permission slip.

The problem I have with this is that it treats youths as children rather than as young adults. It sells them short, imagining that they couldn’t possibly be interested in a mature adult faith, perhaps a eucharistic or Marian retreat based on the writings of Pope John Paul or St. Therese or something of that sort. Instead we have to entertain them with children’s stories or gimmicks.

Let’s face it. We can’t compete with the prevailing culture for entertainment. The Church does not have beautiful, young, enticing pop stars, engrossing video games, escapist TV or film entertainment to match what the world offers, so why are we trying to be those things for teens? Pope John Paul didn’t try to act like one of the kids or pretend to be a hip-hop star or debase himself for their laughter or treat them like babies. Yet they flocked to him by the millions and they loved him and even cried in his presence. Why?

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli