Progress on the Youth Ministry Program!!!

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
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Trip End Jun 06, 2013


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Flag of South Africa  , Eastern Cape,
Monday, January 28, 2013

I am so blessed to be able to report that the hard work on establishing the Youth Ministry Program at Mater Dei has finally really paid off. While I was lucky to arrive with a few adults who were already devoted to the project and had, a few months prior to my arrival, started to round-up the youth on a Sunday morning, there was still a lot of work to be done. 

For the first two weeks while I was there, I was doing basic admin in the office, learning names, and just trying to learn where everything was... not to mention how to get into the different rooms with all those keys for tons of gates. I gathered a list of all the teens at Mater Dei and found a list of Young Adults who had been confirmed and thus, could potentially be great Youth Leaders.

Father Jerry, Mater Dei's Parish Priest from Ireland, decided to purchase Life Teen for his parish youth to follow. It's a great interactive program from the United States that is full of resources. It lays out lessons, Core Team (Youth Leader) recruitment videos and resources, and other material on how to plan liturgy. However, even though full of helpful guides, it was still a lot of new material. I spent a good few days just trying to understand how the program worked and how to use the material.
 
After speaking the first Sunday, I decided that the best thing I could do for the next two weeks was to just observe how things were being ran. 

  • The 5 Core Team Members met on a Thursday night at 7 p.m. to plan for the following Sunday. There was no meeting agenda and no structure. The team just talked all at once and there was really no listening. Ultimately, they'd leave just knowing "so-and-so" was doing the lesson. 
  • Saturday night: Core Members came in to organize the "environment" of the room. Was it a party theme? A war theme? That kind of thing.
  • Sunday morning: Teens and Core Members came in after Mass (with the rest of the small children) to this small catechetical classroom in the Catholic Center next to the church. From there they were seated in a circle and the lesson was given. They did break up into small groups, but because some Core Members just wouldn't show... there was no consistency. It was also very crowded in that small room so it was hard to hear the people in your small group from all the noise.

Basically, I was proud to see that there were devoted adults who were ready to learn about how to run a Youth Ministry program; however, we really needed to bond as a Core Team first and then start from the ground up. There were the few teens who were constantly there, but the rest came and went. You could tell there was a divide among the teens and that they really needed more consistency among their Youth Leaders, more excitement to the lessons, and more bonding like the rest of us.

The following Sunday, I didn't do a lesson. I added some music to the room as they came in just to change the vibe and wake them up on a Sunday morning. Many were smiling and looking around to see what was happening. It was quite funny. Then that whole hour and a half we asked the teens what THEY wanted to see: What kind of socials? What kind of volunteer events? What kind of lessons? What issues did they want to discuss? And so on. I wanted them to have a voice and feel heard by not only me, but the other Core Members. It was their program after all.

From that as a team we discussed the reaction. Many teens were saying they were so happy we asked them and the Core Members said they were impressed to hear so many of them sharing their opinions. Turns out, they do have ideas... they just weren't given a chance to speak. Once we put the program in their hands, they gave us some great guidance!   
 
That next month, I got busy recruiting new Core Members and doing more bonding things as a team; for example, instead of a meeting we had a Bring-and-Share dinner at my host mom's house. The teens wanted to see more young adults in the group. They said they loved the adults but just wanted a few who were closer in age and could relate. Which made sense, but as a Director of Youth Ministries, I knew that you had to have all ages as Leaders. Each one brings different talents, insight, and experience to the table. Adults also are much more comfortable and experienced in teaching lessons, more organized, and act as a guide for the younger youth leaders. I really give credit to the adults that had helped start this whole program before I got there. They were so supportive and made me feel at home when I arrived too.

I also started planning socials: A Stay Awake in the Church Hall, Christmas Cookie Baking, and a Hike in the Zuurberg Mountains (in two blogs). Not to mention we also needed ways to advertise so I found someone at the parish who willingly would print advertisements for me. I also presented a budget proposal to the Parish Council and got them to purchase us a few bulletin boards I could use to post photos, advertisements, etcetera.

Father Jerry also wanted me to visit the homes of teens who weren't coming every week. It was an excellent idea... even though a "quick pop-in" turned into a four-hour dinner eating liver for my first time; however, I realized that I really didn't want to convince them to come back to a program that hadn't changed yet. They'd come, see it was the same old thing and for sure never try it again. The quote "If you build it, they will come" kept coming back to me. So that's where I put my energy. Trying to organize the program and make exciting changes so that if we did have to convince them to come back, they'd see it was different. 

It was a busy few months trying to organized, plan socials, plan productive core meetings, and make a new plan of action for the new year. But it's paid off. I really learned to put my Faith in God and know that in Him, all things are possible. He already had a plan in mind.
 
 
As it turns out we didn't need to convince the teens to come back after all.
 
We built it and they are coming on their own. New teens each week.
  


 
So what's this re-vamped Youth Ministry like?

I am writing that in my next blog :)



 


 
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Comments

grampa s. on

just read this again what a wonderful job you have done .gm and i are so proud of you. waiting for the follow up . did you ever think you would see me useing the comp.? love you gm&gp

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