A few months back, I felt an incredibly strong call to work in youth ministry again – not just on the outside planning large diocesan events, but in the trenches working with teens and volunteers. I started by visiting with the pastor and making sure there was support and approval. After that, I began to make some strategic steps to get things rolling as quickly and effectively as possible. I’ll walk you through the major steps I’ve taken to get things going.
To start – you probably need a context – this is a 200 family parish located outside of Tyler, Texas. There is only a part time secretary, and a religious sister who runs the faith formation classes on staff.
For 2 weeks – Father announced an “after mass gathering”.
Week 3 – I showed up to all the masses, introduced myself and invited the teens and adults to our first Wednesday gathering (3 days later)
We had around 8 students show up, which included 4 middle school students at our “bonfire night” We talked about youth ministry and had some fun
Week 4 – I tried to set up a meetup at Sonic to play volleyball – we only had 3 students
I let the summer go by, and planned our end of summer Lock-in. I had father announce it several weeks in advance, and a student make an announcement the Sunday before.
Wednesday Lock-in- 7pm-12am
We had 12 students. We played a name game, then went into throwing balls and shooting Nurf darts at each other. We played soccer with beachballs inside the main hall, and enjoyed some Pizza. I sat them down for about 15 minutes and taught them about adoration, and took them into the church for about 30 minutes. Deacon exposed the blessed sacrament and I played a few songs in the back. After that, we played some glow in the dark capture the flag, and sent them home at midnight. They all were really excited, had a great time, and were eager to come back.
Week 2 – Again, we had the announcements made, and invited the teens to “Muck Wars”. Taking horse feed and water, some slip and slides, and some water balloons, we made the evening of relays, and games throwing muck at each other. At the end of the night, we talked about how Jesus and the Church stands with us, even in the muck of life. I handed out the year’s schedule with dates, and our new group names: Ignite (middle school) and Ablaze (High school). I made some logo’s and stuck them on the sheet with the date and event below.
To make the logos – I looked online for other examples of what had been done. I took some bits and pieces and stuck them together in photoshop. To develop my curriculum, I took life events, the church calendar, and put them to a fun theme. I plan to have 45 minutes of ridiculous games, 20 minute talk 20 minute small group discussion and closing prayer. Really simple stuff.
This week, I’ve made JPG announcements for the entire year, so I can send them to the person who does the bulletin – and I don’t have to worry about throwing it together last minute.
I went through each theme, and expaned it into the game concepts, and the main points for the talk. NOW, before each youth night, all I have to do is figure out what games i’m going to do, write my talk, and put small group questions together. I hope over the next few weeks, I’ll expand the talk, write the small group materials and figure out a few games we could do.
VOLUNTEERS – For volunteers, I looked up a few young adults I know grew up here. I asked them if they knew anyone Catholic that is still around. I found 4 local college students that I contacted through facebook asking if they would be interested. I offered to meet up for coffee just to tell them about it. We met for coffee, and so far, I think everyone is excited. At our meeting, I talked about my personal style, expectations, and the events I wanted to do. I have all the background check information ready to hand them next week when they come and check it out and will ask for it to be back up the following week.
CONTACTS – One key element, is contacting parents and students. I made up a form asking for name, phone, email, and got permission from parents to contact them and their teens. I set up a “REMIND” Texting account and as I get forms in, I’ve contacted the parents. I sent out a big group email to everyone as well. I haven’t heard back from a single person, but all this is pretty new and I’m not sure if I even have the right emails or phone numbers. Guess I’ll find out.
MOVING FORWARD – this week is our first middle school night. We are replicating “muck wars” so everything I already had out and ready to go, I just left there and won’t have to do as much setup. I hope to meet parents at their cars so I can hand them the forms as they come – that way, I get them by the end of the night and can put them in the group text and email them next week.
Attached are all the files I am using so you can follow along. Registration