In my last post I talked a bit about the excitement that we get when we finally are able to get that youth we have been seeking out to attend a retreat or conference that we know will offer them a great experience where they will likely be opened up to the love of God and they will have their initial conversion towards him. I have also mentioned in a previous post about a priest that has opted NOT to send youth to these types of experiences because the parish was not ready for the youth that would return.
In John chapter six after Jesus had fed the five thousand from just a small amount of food, those who were there came looking after him. He is quick to point out though that what they are looking for is NOT what they should be looking for. Yes, they were looking for Jesus, but ultimately the reason they were looking for Jesus was because he fed them.
Here’s what it says:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life…” – John 6: 26-27″
What do you offer in your parish for the youth that are longing for the food which endures to eternal life? Their experiences are great, but these experiences should act as a spring board into a deeply rooted relationship with Christ.
Your games are great, but they should act as an invitation into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
Your volunteers are great, but they will not be there when the youth graduates high school.
Do not be afraid to give the youth in your parish Jesus. Here are two ways that I recommend you do this:
Create An Atmosphere For Discipleship
This can be done in so many ways. You could set up a small group ministry, a mentoring program, or any other way that you can find great adults to connect with youth and partner with them in their faith.
Utilize the Sacraments & Prayers of the Church
I know Eucharistic Adoration is not a sacrament but I have found that the one single best programming idea I have had has been to offer monthly Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions. Do it during youth group time. If your priest is not able to do this, than go as a group during the regular confession times in the parish. Invite youth to daily Mass or invite them to pray the rosary weekly or even daily.
Through these two things, youth will learn the disciplines necessary and will also begin to see and experience the food that will never perish.
What are some things that you have done in your parish youth ministry programs that have helped youth accomplish these same things? Please comment below!